One of the city’s favourite sons returned home over the weekend for a star-studded hockey event that heaped attention on Penticton and the South Okanagan.
Andy Moog was among the special guests for Rogers Hometown Hockey, a two-day festival that culminated with Ron MacLean broadcasting live from a mobile studio at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Moog, who lives in Dallas but owns a home in Okanagan Falls and still visits here regularly.
“They put a lot of energy and a lot of people in this event, and I’m just impressed by the magnitude and the unbelievable support the community has shown.”
The retired NHL goalie spent most of the weekend signing autographs for fans, many of whom weren’t even alive when his professional career ended in 1998.
“It’s pretty consistent that the parents are telling the children, ‘This used to be my dad’s favourite player,” Moog said with a laugh.
The four-time NHL all-star was pleased, however, to help showcase his hometown, although he believes Penticton is already “very well-established on the hockey map, whether it’s the minor hockey association producing good players, whether is’ the Vees for decades of being a championship team, or the Okanagan Hockey School camps being synonymous with off-season training.”
Judy Sentes said the city got priceless exposure on Rogers Hometown Hockey, which featured some of the people and places the area is known both before and during the Toronto Maple Leafs-Detroit Red Wings game on Sportsnet.
“If you think about this in the advertising perspective, every time the word Penticton is out there, that’s a huge advertisement for us, said the city councillor.
“We could never afford that, so it’s a gift that they come here."
Sentes joined another retired NHL goalie, Kirk McLean, and Gordon Robertson, who helped capture gold Canada in hockey at the 1952 Winter Olympics, on stage as judge for the Cheer Like Never Before contest.
The winners were the Penticton Wolverines peewee squad, who will now vie against 23 other teams from across Canada for a chance to win a meet-and-greet with the Vancouver Canucks and tour of the club’s dressing room. Wolverines forward Rocco Hamilton came up with the cheer, which has the team loudly declaring its name and intention to battle.
“It was my game to fire up the team in the Merritt tournament, and then I came up with the cheer, and then we just used it ever since," said Hamilton
Besides the contest, Hamilton and his teammates took in some of the other sights and sounds of Rogers Hometown Hockey, such as live music, free food and drinks, and high-tech fun like an attraction that allowed people to try sportscasting.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” said Hamilton.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to get autographs and just see all the stuff here.”
Other notables in Penticton for the event were Edmonton Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson, former Canucks goalie Kirk McLean, and sportscaster John Shannon.
The 24-stop Rogers Hometown Hockey tour has travelled right across the country, and visits Calgary next weekend.