SUMMERSIDE – Some came from as far away as Alberta just to take in the event.
Thousands of hockey fans converged on Summerside’s Credit Union Place Saturday to take in Hockey Day in Canada activities.
Frank Robidoux and several friends made the trek from Moncton, N.B., armed with memorabilia they hoped to get signed by former NHLers in attendance.
“We’re big hockey fans,” said Robidoux. “Whenever we have an opportunity to meet some of the players it’s great to be able to spend some time with them.”
It’s not every day fans get a chance to rub shoulders with players like former Toronto Maple Leaf Wendel Clark or get to see living legend Don Cherry up close.
“Coming from Moncton is a no-brainer,” said Robidoux. “When you meet an NHL star like Wendel Clark it is huge. The chances of seeing him again in this area may not be all that great. The opportunity to spend maybe two, three minutes of your time with a player like that is huge.”
He got to meet Clark, getting his autograph, as did his friends.
Clark, hockey personalities like Dick Irvin and former NHL players milled about, chatting with fans, signing autographs and getting photos taken.
The day started early with a skills clinic for minor hockey players with some of the game’s most iconic players, including Lanny McDonald and Mark Napier.
The facility was abuzz with activity inside and out, with tabletop hockey games, crafts, an historical exhibit, the Stanley Cup, entertainment, outdoor skating and, of course, hockey action on the ice at EastLink Arena.
Eustace Reeves, wife Marilee and children Brett and Emily, beamed as they had their photo taken with Lord Stanley’s Cup, as did thousands of other hockey fans.
“Everyone grows up thinking hockey is everything. My young fellow likes to play. I like watching and my wife does,” said Reeves. “It’s just a chance to enjoy just this and the people that are here. It’s a special occasion.”
Three-month-old Kinley Isabella Sharkey sat in hockey’s most coveted prize as parents Jodi and Nick stood close by.
“It’s just a great opportunity to be able to see the Stanley Cup in person, especially with her being so little,” said Jodi, a life-long Montreal Canadiens fan. “I’ve always watched hockey. My father played and my sisters played. It was always on Saturday nights.”
Shaun Younker of Charlottetown and his young family participated in several events throughout the week, taking in the CBC shinny game, taking photos with the Stanley Cup, and getting autographs from several hockey legends.
The family, dressed in their black and yellow Boston Bruins jerseys, capped the week off by attending Saturday night’s Maritime Hockey League game between the Summerside Western Capitals and the Miramichi Timberwolves.
“I consider it an honour for P.E.I. to be a part of Hockey Day in Canada,” said Younker. “It’s like Christmas for hockey fans. It’s awesome.”