While the Canadian Hockey League season is winding down there’s still no shortage of notable events from coast-to-coast in the latest weekend review that features celebrations of champions, captains, and children among the highlights.
Here’s a closer look at what else took place:
Blazers host Memorial Cup Anniversary in Kamloops
25 years after winning their third Memorial Cup in a record four-year span the Kamloops Blazers honoured their history with a weekend long celebration. Canadian country music star Gord Bamford’s #REDNEK Music Fest headlined the entertainment aspect of the festivities that also featured alumni like Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, and Scott Niedermayer, plus past coaches like Tom Renney, Ken Hitchcock, and Don Hay in attendance. The team wore commemorative jerseys and raised new banners to the rafters in the presence of the Memorial Cup. The Blazers captured the CHL’s holy grail in 1995, 1994, and 1992, plus WHL championships in 1990, 1986, and 1984.
Colts Captains return to Barrie
The Barrie Colts continued their 25th anniversary celebrations with a special pre-game ceremony on Thursday recognizing their captains. Past players to wear the ‘C’ were in attendance while others still competing in the pro ranks provided video messages including the likes of Florida Panthers defenceman Aaron Ekblad and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Royals host Pink in the Rink
It was a special night in Victoria on Saturday when the Royals hosted their Pink in the Rink game in support of the B.C. Cancer Foundation. In addition to wearing special sweaters for auction to help raise funds, the club highlighted just how cancer affects us all with a video that featured defenceman Will Warm’s mother, Wendi, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in March, 2019.
Frontenacs salute Military families
The Kingston Fronteancs continued their tradition of saluting military families on Friday night wearing special camo jerseys in support of the K9’s R Us Service Dogs for Those Who Served. The evening included a pre-game ceremony honouring veteran Blake Emmons whose work as a country music singer following his service has been instrumental in helping fellow members of the military.
Generals host Pride Night
The Oshawa Generals in partnership with You Can Play hosted their first Pride Night on Sunday helping deliver the message that hockey is for everyone. In addition to the inclusive theme of the evening’s game, behind the scenes the club welcomed back star alumnus John Tavares who paid a surprise visit to some young minor hockey players in attendance as part of the JT Junior Generals program.
Kids Run the Show in Charlottetown
It was certainly a youth movement in Charlottetown on Sunday when the Islanders hosted their first ever Kids Run the Show game that provided young fans with a once in a lifetime opportunity in helping execute every facet of the game-day experience. From joining the coaching staff behind the bench, to announcing the starting lineup over the PA, to calling the play-by-play, contest winners got a unique look at what goes into a CHL game while providing their youthful exuberance.
The CHL’s partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association and local branches continued from coast-to-coast as players and teams helped spread awareness and raised funds for mental health programs.
Several other CHL clubs were sporting different looks over the weekend including the Brandon Wheat Kings with their Winnipeg Blue Bombers inspired sweaters as they celebrated the club’s 2019 Grey Cup Championship. The Regina Pats held an Autism Awareness night, the Sudbury Wolves swapped sweater designs with the Sudbury Five NBL Canada, while the Lethbridge Hurricanes became the latest to join the WHL Suits Up campaign for the Canadian Kidney Foundation.
Several CHL clubs also announced the results of recent charitable campaigns including the Erie Otters raising more than $4,000 for the Hillman Cancer Fund, the Oshawa Generals raising $5,000 from their Family Day game for Herizon House, $35,000 raised by Owen Sound Attack defenceman Mark Woolley’s program Woolley’s Warriors in support of Diabetes Canada, more than $42,000 invested towards the United Way North East Ontario by the Sudbury Wolves and partner programs.
If you were at a CHL game over the weekend, chances are it featured a ceremonial puck drop featuring special guests or highlighting some great local initiatives. Some recent examples include Seattle where the Thunderbirds hosted the inaugural WHL U.S. Challenge Cup, the Everett Silvertips honouring a young inspirational fan named Marcus Pearson, the Windsor Spitfires First Responders Night, the Kitchener Rangers welcoming back alumnus Evan McGrath, the North Bay Battalion supporting #IStopYouStop Day, and the Guelph Storm raising awareness for the United Way’s #UNIGNORABLE campaign.
Every year, on February 18, the Windsor Spitfires, and the greater hockey community, remembers Mickey Renaud. The former Spits captain, who wore #18, passed away suddenly on February 18, 2008, due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. His parents, Mark and Jane Renaud, annually attend the game and were joined this season by Spitfires billet families for a special pre-game ceremony.
Rogers Hometown Hockey
Essex County, specifically the town of LaSalle, located just down the road from Windsor, was the landing spot for this weekend’s Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour. Spitfires mascots helped entertain fans in attendance while the national broadcast shared hockey stories from the community including a feature about the incredible string of former Spitfires captains who are now making their mark as NHL coaches including DJ Smith, Joel Quenneville, Paul Maurice, Peter DeBoer, and Claude Julien, plus special mention of former Spits coach Bob Boughner.
A successful season for Simoneau
Drummondville Voltigeurs captain Xavier Simoneau’s impact this season has gone well beyond the ice with his program ‘Les Amis a Simy’. More than 200 youth have attended games as part of the program launched this season by Simoneau who helps brighten the day for young fans in the community who are going through difficult times whether it be from illness, disabilities, or other hardships.
Lafreniere first to 100
On the ice, top NHL Draft prospect Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic became the first member of the CHL’s Century Club recording 100 points this season. He was soon followed by a pair of other draft eligibles including Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s and Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit in what will be a closely contested scoring race down the stretch.
Garreffa hits 300
Ottawa 67’s overage forward Joseph Garreffa is the latest CHL star to reach the prestigious 300 career points plateau. The Toronto native played his first four seasons with the Kitchener Rangers while his latest 78 points have been accrued while wearing the barber poles in the nation’s capital. In total, his 300 plus points were produced over 289 career regular season games and includes 103 goals and 200 assists.
By playing in his 307th game, Windsor Spitfires captain Luke Boka became the franchise’s all-time games played leader. Cole Perfetti added to his century club total and in doing so set a Saginaw Spirit record for points in a season. The Flint Firebirds’ success is large in part to the man behind the bench, Eric Wellwood, who is now the winningest coach in franchise history. In goal, Edmonton Oil Kings rookie Sebastian Cossa’s fourth shutout is now a club record for first year netminders.
Growing the 300 games club
Just days after meeting the 300 career point milestone, Ottawa 67’s forward Austen Keating played in his 300th career game becoming the first member of the organization to achieve both honours. Also playing in their 300th career game this past week were Dylan Plouffe of the Medicine Hat Tigers, and Dakota Krebs of the Calgary Hitmen.
Rockets make coaching change
The 2020 Memorial Cup Presented by Kia host Kelowna Rockets have a new man in charge behind the bench with the club announcing Kris Mallette will be taking over for Adam Foote who has been relieved of his duties.
CHL Playoff Picture
The CHL Playoff Picture is filling up with 21 of the 48 spots from coast-to-coast now accounted for with recent clubs to clinch including the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit, Flint Firebirds, Kitchener Rangers, London Knights, and Oshawa Generals, plus the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, Medicine Hat Tigers, Prince Albert Raiders, and Spokane Chiefs.