The heat of summer usually has the minds of Brant residents far from thinking about hockey. That’s certainly not the case this year, with the inaugural Hockey Night in Brantford homecoming game set for Aug. 15 at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.
The event – a fundraiser for Brant United Way – is being billed as a homecoming for professional hockey players who had their start in Brant and will feature past, present and future stars of the game.
Receiving top billing for the inaugural event is New Jersey Devils centreman and Burford native Adam Henrique, who helped propel his team to the Stanley Cup Final in this year’s National Hockey League playoffs. Henrique was also a runner-up in NHL rookie of the year voting this year.
Other hockey greats slated to participate include former NHLers Doug “The Iron Man” Jarvis, Jay Wells, Pat Hickey, Paul MacKinnon, Dan Gratton and Ken Murray, as well as Brantford Smoke legend Paul Polillo. Junior hockey stars and college players will also take part.
While Hockey Night in Brantford will certainly offer something for sports junkies to enjoy, there will also be something for political junkies on offer. The game will see Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, Minister of Transport Denis Lebel, Barrie MP Patrick Brown and Kenora MP Greg Rickford lace ’em up and hit the ice. (For the record, reports suggest that Brown will impress with his hockey prowess and McKay can hold his own playing the game.)
The participation of parliamentarians and hockey greats – and in fact the event itself – is thanks to Brant MP Phil McColeman, who is organizing this first-ever homecoming hockey showcase in Brantford. Most people wouldn’t list event planning in the job description of a member of Parliament but, with Hockey Night in Brantford, Brant’s MP is doing just that. It should be noted that hockey comes naturally to McColeman, a former university-level goaltender.
It’s clear the community is getting behind Hockey Night in Brantford, with sponsors coming on board to ensure a successful event. Last week, The Williamson Group stepped up to contribute $10,000. Air Canada and WestJet have also offered support in the form of prizes that will be given away in a Hockey Night in Brantford raffle. Both airlines have donated tickets to anywhere they fly and Via Rail has offered a $1,000 travel voucher.
While Hockey Night in Brantford will certainly offer a spectacle for spectators, perhaps the best part of the event is that funds raised through it will benefit Brant United Way, which offers financial support to 18 member agencies that deliver important services and programs to members of the community. As United Way executive director Kristin Pass recently noted, the game will certainly provide a boost to the organization’s 2012 fundraising efforts, allowing the United Way to reach new donor markets in what is not typically a busy time for fundraising.
So if you’re looking to cool off on Aug. 15 – or simply dreaming of hockey during this long, hot summer – plan to attend Hockey Night in Brantford. It’s sure to be a community event to remember.
Tickets for Hockey Night in Brantford are being sold online at www.hockeynightinbrantford.ca at a cost of $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors. Hockey Night in Brantford raffle tickets can be purchased at the Brant United Way, Best Western Brant Park Inn and other locations in Brant.