Under the half moon… Hometown Hockey has arrived in Prince Rupert. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Prince Rupert wooed by Hometown Hockey, going over the top to answer the call

City is excited to showcase Prince Rupert’s livability — and hockey fandom — on the national stage

Anyone who has driven past the Civic Centre lately has noticed that the Hometown Hockey trucks have rolled into town, with workers busy setting everything up for what will be a jam-packed Saturday and Sunday’s worth of events. It’s the culmination of months of hard work from volunteers and people in the community, and all started with an email back in the summer.

“Rogers approached the city and said there’s this event we do, would you be interested in participating in it?” David Geronazzo, the city’s director of Recreation and Community Services, said. “Rosa [Miller] and I talked and decided we should go for it. It seemed like an awesome fit for the community, and a way to celebrate hockey here.”

Rosa Miller, vice-president of the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association, knew Hometown Hockey would be big for the community. But she also knew the town would have to do something extra to give them an edge in the application process.

Crews were hard at work on Thursday getting everything set up for the event. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

“The only thing that was requested was a written application, but I felt that we needed to stand out. So we opted to do a video,” Miller explained. By rule the city had to keep the application process under wraps, which required some delicate wording when asking people around town for help with the video.

“We couldn’t tell people what it was for, so we tricked everyone into thinking it was a promotional video for hockey, they had no idea what we were sending it away for,” Miller said. Using this strategy, Miller and her team collected a wealth of footage to showcase the many different levels of hockey in Prince Rupert.

READ MORE: Rampage exercise their demons

The written part of the application still existed though, and Geronazzo explained what the city chose to include to sell themselves. “We focused on the fact that Prince Rupert has a thriving First Nations culture. We have access to the ocean which is its own special pull, and we have a thriving hockey community here which needs to be shown to the world.”

The application also asked a series of logistical questions, all of which Geronazzo is confident the Civic Centre can provide. “Can we access a lift truck, is there a parking lot, is there an event space, do you have a facility with bathrooms?” Geronazzo said were just some of the more technical questions of the process.

The Scotiabank Rink has taken form, and is ready for some good old fashioned road hockey come the weekend. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

The main stage will be rocking with live music, including performances by Triple Bypass and The Dearly Departed. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

These heaters will be working overtime during what is expected to be a chilly weekend. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

The team received word that Prince Rupert had been selected later in the summer, but had to hold their tongues until Rogers was prepared to make the announcement. Finally, on Sept. 10, it was revealed that Hometown Hockey would be coming to town for the Dec. 7-8 weekend.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase everything that Prince Rupert has to offer, not only in terms of minor sports and all of the support that we have for hockey in the community, but in terms of livability,” Veronika Stewart, communications manager for the city, said. “You can buy your own house, go out on the water, catch dinner, bring it home and cook it all on the same day. It’s a really livable place and I think the world needs to see that so we can get all of the people here that we need for our port industry and all of our service sector industries for the years to come.”

READ MORE: Red brings the gold to Prince Rupert

Saturday night features the Prince Rupert Rampage in a home game against the Terrace River Kings. It’s a rivalry that goes back for decades, and Rampage general manager Ron German is certain that the presence of Hometown Hockey will only amplify the match.

“It’s going to draw a huge crowd with one of our biggest rivals Terrace in the barn. I think it’s going to add on to the whole aspect of it,” German said.

More community, more fun, but less parking, as the Civic Centre lot and this McBride St. entrance are now closed. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Leave some extra time if you plan to use the Lester Centre parking lot in the next few days. It was already a wait of several minutes from the parking lot to McBride St. Between Hometown Hockey, Winterfest and the high school musical, that wait time is not likely to decrease. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

German is confident there will be enthusiasm for the many events all weekend long.

“People are pretty excited about being down here to see the Stanley Cup, I don’t think there’s going to be a Rampage guy in town who would miss the Cup,” German said. “It’s going to be a mad house all day, from the Winterfest parade to the Rampage game on Saturday night. Then it will pick up all again on Sunday.”

German is also excited about the lasting effect that Hometown Hockey will have on the community. “I think it’s going to bring more people down to the Civic Centre and the arena as a whole. Minor hockey will benefit, the younger kids will get interested in seeing what’s going on at a big event like this, and get excited about hockey,” German said.

READ MORE: MVP of the Week | Positive transitions: Jim Lessard recovering on and off the ice


Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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