While I’m back West for the next few days, I’ll have to keep the next few posts rather short and simple (I’m super busy).
Last night I went to a hockey match here in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; the Moose Jaw Warriors against the Saskatoon Blades – in Moose Jaw’s new $90 million dollar arena. A few thousand people showed up for the game.
It was a poignant reminder that hockey fever across Canada is still alive and well – and goes well beyond the NHL. (I suppose that’s why we’re seeing so many new hockey arenas being built around Canada, such as the new ampithéatre in Québec city, the new one in Regina, and the one here in Moose Jaw – among many others going up across the country). The “lesser leagues” are able to pack them full with fans and pull if off just as good (and sometimes, if not better) than the NHL.
I’ve been to WHL matches in Kelowna (BC), Moose Jaw (SK), Regina (SK), Edmonton AB), Brandon (MB) and Winnipeg (MB), and to QMJHL matches in Gatineau (QC), Québec City (QC), Baie-Comeau (QC), and Val d’Or (QC).
One thing holds true, regardless of where you take in these junior matches, be in Québec, in Saskatchewan, or any other province: the crowds will be there, the restaurants and bars in the arena districts will be packed, and the atmosphere is one which will give the NHL a run for its money, any day. I suppose you could say the NHL met its “match”.
For those who might not be in the know… Moose Jaw is one of Saskatchewan’s more historic cities, 45 minutes west of Regina on the Trans-Canada. My parents grew up here, and all of my extended family still lives here. I’ve never lived in Moose Jaw, but because I have lived in so many other places, Moose Jaw is kind of he only constant place that has always been there in the background for me – the place I was almost always guaranteed to go “back to”, at least once a year. And, here I am again, in my sort-of “honourary” hometown 😉
Oh… and if you’re wondering – yup, I heard French in the crowd at last night’s match. But it was a bit too loud at the game for me to hear if it was the Southern Saskatchewan accent (Gravelbourg & Ponteix are close to Moose Jaw), or if it was an accent from elsewhere (Moose Jaw has a large air base with servicemen & women from around the country).