Hockey Day in Winkler

ROB NAY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

For a few days in February, Winkler is set to be the nation's heart of hockey.

CBC's Hockey Day in Canada will arrive in the city on Feb. 9, 2008, for extensive hockey broadcasting and multi-day celebrations, marking the first time it's been hosted in Manitoba.

"We were very excited when the official announcement came through," said Deb Penner, community events co-ordinator for Winkler.

The eighth annual celebration will feature host Ron MacLean, who will be joined by Don Cherry, former women's national team member Cassie Campbell and Dick Irvin.

'BIG MOMENTUM'

Along with hosting broadcasts of NHL games played in Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver, the day will also showcase a Manitoba Junior Hockey League game featuring hometown heroes the Winkler Flyers versus the Selkirk Steelers.

School visits and on-ice clinics by former NHL stars are also slated, with a number of other celebrations still to be scheduled throughout the week.

"There's some really big momentum and it'll keep building until February," said Penner.

The city is considering holding a public meeting to share ideas for possible events and many people have already offered to volunteer to help out for Hockey Day.

"It's part of the strong hockey community in Winkler," said Penner.

A number of NHL players, such as 2007 Stanley Cup champion Dustin Penner, hail from the city, said Deb Penner, who is Dustin's aunt.

Joel Darling, director of production for CBC Sports, said the goal of Hockey Day is to grow the game and get more people playing and watching it.

Winkler was chosen to host Hockey Day for its game history, size and ability to support a large event.

The eighth Hockey Day also features a journey theme, and stories about "how people's lives are changed or were shaped by the game," said Darling.


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