News Local

Street hockey takes over Downtown Pembroke

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Downtown Pembroke celebrated “Hockey Day in Canada” over the weekend with the third annual Downtown HockeySpree.

Hosted by the Pembroke Business Improvement Area (PBIA), this fun sporting event honouring Canada’s national passion was held in conjunction with the city's SnoSpree. PBIA manager Heather Sutherland was exceptionally happy with the community involvement in the event, which is the first signature event of the year for the PBIA.

Closing off the downtown between Albert and Alexander streets, the core was turned into an outdoor arena where the shouts of “Score!” echoed off the buildings. Six teams took to the street to compete in three divisions: youth, the open division for ages 15-34, and the oldtimers. The round robin called for a three-on-three format which opened up a lot of the street for plays to be made. Winning the day-long tournament were the Savage Cabbages who defeated Pretty Fly for a 10 Ply by a score of 5-2.

“I love the image of it,” said Sutherland. “There’s nothing more Canadian than street hockey.”

Among the many additions to the event this year was the introduction of the Municipal Challenge, which pitted two old rivals, the City of Pembroke against the Town of Petawawa in a best out-of-three tournament. Teams were made up of elected officials, managers and staff. In the end, Petawawa got the better of Hockey Town winning two out of the three games.

“We added it as a fun mini-tournament for bragging rights,” added Sutherland. “Municipalities about working together and fostering partnerships but it is fun to have that rivalry.”

The event also inaugurated the “hockey arcade” activity area which featured Ry-J's Climbing Adventures conducting a variety of hockey-themed games and activities for the kids. Members of Pembroke’s storied Junior ‘A’ hockey team, the Lumber Kings, were on hand to referee games, sign autographs and take on the kids in the odd game of air hockey. Sutherland added having a team that were national champions bolster HockeySpree makes the day that much more special.

“They are a very community minded hockey club. The players are such positive role models, especially for those younger hockey players,” she said. “Perhaps we had a future Lumber King playing on the streets of Pembroke today.”

Amanda Wilson, youth director of the Salvation Army’s Yakka Youth Centre, entered a squad into the tournament for the second straight year. She said her youth had a great time getting outdoors and meeting others in the community in a spirited hockey game.

“They get a natural high from being outside,” she said. “This is such a good fundraiser for the Phoenix Centre which many of our kids use so it’s nice for us to give back to the community.”

Nick Tremblay said his team played some tough morning games, however, they at least got one goal past their opponents. While he plays minor hockey now, he still remembers hit the streets to practice as a youth.

“I would go out with my friends and played street hockey so this brings back some memories,” said Tremblay.

Organizers wished to thank Play It Again Sports and Ontario Power Generation for their sponsorship.


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