On Sunday, Dec. 29, the first annual Cranbrook Classic hockey game took place. The game was a chance for the seven- and eight-year-old players to experience the great outdoor hockey game.
The game was played on the Chisholm Pond in Mayook and the two teams were sponsored by Snap-on Tools and Spring Honda.
Corey Spring, one of the organizers, said the combination of the community and the spirit of outdoor adventure came together to make the event a great one for the kids.
A former member of the Tampa Bay Lightning and part-owner of Spring Honda in Cranbrook, Spring says the event grew from a conversation with a number of hockey parents.
“A couple of the parents were all sitting there talking one day about pond hockey and getting the kids playing on the pond,” Spring said. “A bunch of us coach the novice house teams, seven and eight year olds. We were looking at getting some extra ice time over the holidays. Then Miles Chisholm said his dad has a pond out in Mayook.
It started off as a practice, but Spring suggested having a game and it just snowballed from there. They wanted to model the game after the NHL outdoor games. He estimated at least 150 people went out there to watch, and the weather was great.
The rink was outfitted with snow bank boards and painted with face-off rings. Scott and Rob Niedermayer were even there to drop the puck.
About 150 people came out to watch the game, while roasting hot dogs, marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate at a big bonfire.
In the morning, the organizers bussed all the kids out from Western Financial Place. Then when they got out there, they sent them on a hayride and rode them down to the rink, since there wasn’t any room for the bus to drive all the way down there.
Spring said when he was kid just about every weekend he and his friends were at the outdoor arena, at the firehall or at the outdoor ponds of the area.
“We’d take a drive out towards Jaffray, or wherever we could find some ice that was shovelled or plowed off and just have a pickup game,” he said. “When I think of my kids now, they really haven’t done that a lot.”
Spring said the organizers hoped that the event would be an experience for the kids that would really show them what a great place they live in.
“In 20 years from now, if they’re out there sledding and plowing the lake and getting everything ready for their kids, I think we did a good job,” he said.
The business community was supportive as well, he said.
Save-on Foods supplied hot dogs, Culligan Water supplied water, Pete Savarie Logging supplied wood for the fire, McDonalds supplied drinks, Falkins Insurance provided insurance and Sun City Bus Line provided the bus.
“Every single business we asked for help in putting this together, without even question they did what they could,” he said. “Every business chipped in and made it a lot more than we were ever expecting.”
Spring said it was a success and from talking to people out there, everyone had a blast and it would be a shame to not keep it going.
“I think we’ll plan for next year and hopefully the weather co-operates with us. The whole idea of being just out in nature is really attractive to everyone.”
Three of the organizers coach on one of the teams and the other three on the other team.