Despite the ongoing NHL lockout, fans of the sport in the Exploits Valley can still get their dose of professional hockey, right in their own backyard.
On Oct. 21, the Harry Ivany Arena in Botwood will be hosting the Boston Bruins Alumni team to play against local heroes for the grand reopening and rededication of the arena.
The stadium recently underwent over $3 million in renovations in the past few years, which included a new ceiling, new lighting, new dressing rooms, new benches and more. Though it was open for use last season, Botwood Mayor Jerry Dean said this was the first chance they’ve had to celebrate the much-needed improvements to the facility.
“We were considering many different ways to (rededicate the Harry Ivany), and this opportunity came up with the Boston Bruins Alumni, so we’re using the game as our centerpiece for the ceremony as a crowd draw,” said Dean.
Dean said the idea to bring in the former stars was prompted by a similar game in Lewisporte last year, which was a resounding success.
He said Botwood has more than a few Bruins fans, and being an original six NHL team, Dean though they were a good fit for the ceremony.
Among the big names that will help christen the ice are former pros Rick Middleton, Terry O'Reilly, and Ray Bourque.
And it’s not just the visiting team that will contain familiar faces for fans; according to Dean, the Local Legends home team the Town has put together will be a good mix of old favourites and new talent – including the mayor himself.
Dean said while he has only been playing off and on the past number of years, he played frequently when he was younger. Some of his experience includes a brief stint with the Cataracts, and even being drafted and attending a training camp for an Ontario-based team.
“These are ex-professional players (on the Bruins team,) they’re not like Mayor Dean in Botwood who used to play hockey, these fellows keep themselves in very good shape, so you’re going to see some substantial talent on the ice,” said Dean, adding although it’ll be a gentleman’s game of hockey, he expects the Local Legends to put up a good fight against the ex-pros.
“We’re icing some fairly talented players from the past,” said Dean. When asked if he hopes to win, he chuckled.
“We’re going to go out and give it our best shot.”
Although the Bruins Alumni versus Local Legends game is going to be the centerpiece of the evening, Dean said they’ll also be including the stadiums’ regular users, including a display from the Seaport Skaters Figure Skating Club, as well as the Botwood Minor Hockey Association.
Dean also said because they weren’t able to include all of the region’s hockey legends as they would have liked in the Local Legends team, they’re planning to prepare a short presentation to give a nod to the many talented and influential players that have come out of the region.
“People are certainly starting to get exited,” said Dean.
He said because the Harry Ivany arena has become more than just a community stadium, he hopes to see people from throughout the region attend the grand reopening.
Tickets are now available for the event. Early bird tickets are available at the Botwood town office and in locations throughout the region for $25. Tickets will also be available at the door for $35. Doors open at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21.
There will also be a post-game meet and greet reception at the Royal Canadian Legion in Botwood at 7 p.m. with opportunities for autographs and photos. Tickets are limited and cost $55.
For more information, call the Botwood town office at 257-2839.
“We’d love to see a good turnout,” said Dean. “You won’t be disappointed, not just with the hockey, but with the other presentations as well.”