Hometown Hockey Scores with Local Fans at Oro-Medonte (9 photos)

“Can’t believe we forgot our (Toronto Maple Leafs) jerseys,” says local mom at Hometown Hockey festivities at Horseshoe Resort

Hockey, hockey, hockey!

It was all about hockey on Saturday at the Horseshoe Resort as Rogers Hometown Hockey opened its doors to stick handlers of all ages.

Hockey skill games, exhibits, hot burgers and cool autographs drew a crowd to the Oro-Medonte Township resort on a sunny day when it was never much hotter than eight degrees Celsius.

Five-year-old Tyler Rendell of Barrie posed for his mother, Jaime, with the oversized Hometown Hockey puck in the center of the parking lot at the Horseshoe Resort, which has been converted to an outdoor festival.

“We just thought it would be fun for our little budding hockey player,” she said of Tyler and why they came. “I can’t believe we forgot our (Toronto Maple Leafs) jerseys.

There was no shortage of Leafs jerseys at the festival, which also takes place on Sundays at the Horseshoe Resort from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In fact, the longest line on Saturday at noon was for Darryl Sittler’s autograph. The former Leafs captain and Oro-Medonte resident patiently autographed photos of himself to hockey fans of all ages, many of whom wore Toronto jerseys.

But there were also a lot of hockey games for the kids.

Noah Haaland, 14, and his 11-year-old brother, Jacob d’Oro-Medonte, put their stick handling and endurance to the test in a lively game of box hockey. Players must push a puck through small slits on the walls of four shallow boxes to win.

“It’s pretty good,” Noah said of the game. “The boxes are collapsing, however.”

No wonder, given how rough the Haaland brothers were, even though there was no body checking in this game of hockey.

“We’re on the other side of the boxes,” Noah explained.

12-year-old Tristan Damstedt tested his precision shooting game skills. Players race against the clock to shoot as many targets as possible before the time runs out. He hit two of the five targets, but relished the chance to shoot hockey pucks.

“I usually play defense,” said Oro Thunder defenseman Peewee.

Most hockey skills games had lineups soon on Saturday, but the second biggest behind the Sittler line was hot food.

A free Harvey’s burger and drink were available for the hungry, and Harvey’s also accepted donations throughout the weekend for local minor hockey in the community.

The Hometown Hockey Festival also featured live musical entertainment on Saturday, with Laura Cavacece of Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday and Carl Dixon scheduled for Sunday.

Rogers Hometown Hockey shines the national spotlight on communities across Canada with a weekend of free outdoor hockey festivities for all ages.

The free event continues on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Proof of full vaccination is required, face masks are mandatory, and physical distancing measures are in place. Full safety rules are available by clicking here. To manage capacity, participants need a digital ticket to enter. Details of the digital ticketing are available here.

The celebrations culminate Monday night with an evening of outdoor viewing of an NHL game broadcast on Sportsnet and SN NOW, with Ron MacLean and Tara Slone live on location from the Sportsnet mobile studio.

This week’s game features the Los Angeles Kings visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, November 8, with game time just past 7:30 p.m.

Catherine J. Martinez