Making Hometown Hockey
By Jenn Watt
Published Oct. 17, 2017
Sunday night Haliburton was Hometown Hockey. Despite the rain, cold and blasting winds, the town showed up clad in jerseys and those big, bright smiles to watch as Ron MacLean and Tara Slone hosted the show from Head Lake Park.
The people behind Rogers Hometown Hockey did an incredible job. They hit all the right notes and talked to all the right people. Slone caught up with Bernie Nicholls to talk about his high-scoring NHL career and his famous tour of the Highlands with the Stanley Cup. Scotty Morrison, retired ref and community booster, sat between the hosts live to talk about his first trip to Kennisis Lake back in the 1960s. Former NHL player Cody Hodgson talked about how Haliburton shaped his career, from playing on the frozen lakes as a four-year-old to the mentors who made professional hockey a normal goal to aspire to. (It sounds nuts, but when you hear him tell it, it hits home just how steeped in hockey the town is. Hodgson’s dad played with Nicholls; he trained at NHL player Ron Stackhouse’s gym; he got his skates sharpened at Glen Sharpley’s and ate dinner at Walt McKechnie’s restaurant. Um, yeah. That’s a bit out of the ordinary.)
Hodgson talked about his lifelong friendship with fellow Haliburtonian and NHLer Matt Duchene.
While Duchene couldn’t make it to town for the broadcast, Rogers was sure to feature his incredible connection to and love for his hometown.
And of course, the history of Hockey Haven, Jim Gregory and Wren Blair put Haliburton on the map for hockey lovers.
Haliburton is the smallest venue Hometown Hockey has ever come to. Before our village, the smallest place was a town of 5,000. It’s safe to say the producers took a chance on us.
And while the weather did its best to ward off would-be visitors, the incredible planning and hard work of the local organizing team shone through and the fans came out.
Our village and county were very well represented during the Sunday night broadcast thanks to the good work of the staff at Rogers Hometown Hockey, but also locally. From Walt McKechnie planting the germ of the idea to the hockey greats who committed to coming out and joining in pre-taped interviews, to the volunteers who worked their butts off distributing signage, planning shuttle service, donating space and time and being flexible as plans changed, everyone came together to make a great broadcast that accurately portrayed the Highlands.
Congratulations on making Haliburton a part of Hometown Hockey.