Hockey Returns to Balsam Avenue

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As I write this, we are just days away from the Bulldogs returning to Balsam Avenue for a second time in 10 years.

That outing of course, was at Ivor Wynne Stadium in a series of winter events that kicked off an action packed final year for our beloved stadium that seen everything from hockey, to The Tragically Hip making final footprints on her unforgiving artificial turf.

I have fond memories of sitting in the snow-filled stands on a sunny January afternoon, watching my youngest make snowballs on top of the Ticats dugout, or singing Sweet Caroline with some 30,000 fellow fans as the snow trickled to our cheeks the night before.

Two years prior, I had attended my second outdoor game (my first being ‘Our Game to Give’ at Ivor Wynne in 2005), at Fenway Park to see oldies from the Bruins and Flyers face-off on a blustery new year’s evening and from that moment, I was addicted.

As fate would have it, when our U15 girls Hawks playoff schedule came out, it turns out we are in St. Catharines for a game that same evening so seeing an actual NHL match outdoors will have to wait.

Thanks to Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer however, having to part with my tickets has turned into being able to take my whole family to experience the magic of these outdoor winter classics.

The Bulldogs have been a part of many memories for me and my family over the years. I have been to games with my kids, my dad and I once took my grandfather to a playoff game which might have been the only time the two of us ever talked hockey. My first ever article published in The Spectator was a piece I wrote after attending game 7 of the 2003 Calder Cup finals matchup between the Bulldogs and the Houston Aeros.

One of the things I have missed these past few years has been hockey days where schools all across Hamilton attend a rare morning Bulldogs tilt full of screaming competitions, lining up for merchandise to add horns pressed against the back of your head to the ear piercing cheers, way too much sugar, watching The Mighty Ducks movie after the game while waiting for your section to exit the arena, and very lively bus rides back to the school.

With the Bullodgs and hockey legends bringing ice to Ivor Wynne Stadium in 2012, it opened other community use opportunities like being able to rent the facilities with my Cogeco peers to play a game and most precious of all, was an open skate with my girls at centre field who were only 6 and 4 at the time and adorable in their pink coats and matching helmets.

I know the Bulldogs are not the NHL and in fact some of these players may even be classmates to your secondary youth, but I am here to tell you it doesn’t matter if it’s your favourite NHL team or Timbits tykes, there is just something mesmerizing about watching hockey with toques, gloves, and a warm cup of cocoa to keep the innards warm in an open stadium.

Now I get to enjoy watching my favourite team – Hamilton girls Hawks – give it their all against the St. Catharines Badgers, and then enjoy the good ‘ol hockey game Monday evening with 4 special people instead of 1.

Let’s sell Monday out. These Bulldogs are on quite a hot streak so there are more reasons than one why you won’t be disappointed in this under the lights winter matchup.

Go Dogs Go!

And that’s The Point.

A few photos from various January 2012 events at Ivor Wynne Stadium

Photos include:

  • Cogeco employees rent the ice at Ivor Wynne for a little shinny
  • Photo of Larry and his girls (Emma & Abigail) in the Tiger-Cats dressing room
  • Abigail posing with the arena as a backdrop
  • A photo of the live action between the Marlies and Bulldogs
  • Abigail making snowballs on top of the Tiger-Cats dugout
  • Larry & Abigail posing for a photo

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