Hockey fans in Penticton have been treated with an action-packed weekend, as the BCHL hosts their 60th annual all-star weekend events.
Despite cool temperatures on Saturday, the stands were packed at Penticton’s newly-built downtown outdoor arena – with a full slate of festivities. The day started with the BC Hockey Female Hockey Jamboree, followed by the BCHL’s brightest stars showcasing their talents at the skill competition.
“It’s fantastic to see all the fans here, and the guys from all the teams coming down to Penticton,” said hockey fan Kyle Paul.
“It’s a little cold out, but you know we’ve got a lot of people braving the cold and nothing beats a good old outdoor hockey game on the outdoor rink.”
The City of Penticton was scheduled to host the all-star weekend last year, but due to mass flooding across B.C., players and fans alike were unable to make the trip, and the event was cancelled. To make up for it, the BCHL decided to add outdoor events, giving everyone involved the ultimate experience.
“This is a first of its kind for the BCHL — certainly something we’re going to want to continue in the future — you get the atmosphere of having the outdoor festivities and engagement with the fans,” said BCHL deputy commissioner, Steven Cocker.
“I think it just brings the event to a whole other level.”
For many of the players, they say being selected to represent their team at the all-star weekend is both an honour and a privilege.
“It’s a huge honour,” said Ethan Bono of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
“You see all the guys that are here, the top players in the league, so to be in the mix with these guys is pretty special.”
Meanwhile, playing on an outdoor ice surface was a first for other players like Abram Wiebe of the Chilliwack Chiefs.
“There’s been a couple times where it’s been cold enough to sake on an outdoor rink back home, but I’ve never played on an outdoor ice,” explained Abram Wiebe of the Chilliwack Chiefs.
“When I found out some of these events were outdoors, I was so excited. It’s going to be the experience of a lifetime.”
Later in the afternoon, the alumni and friends event took place, where fans got a close-up glimpse of former NHL legends like Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Morrison and Geoff Courtnall.
The final event of the weekend is a free community skate at the downtown outdoor rink from 11 a.m. until noon.