'Bring home gold, Jonathan'

Fans send good message to Toews

By ROSS ROMANIUK, QMI Agency

They arrived en masse to urge their area's hockey hero to bring Canada some Olympic gold.

A few hundred skaters and many more in the stands packed the Dakota Community Centre arena on Sunday afternoon to send a message to Jonathan Toews: Good luck at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in a couple of weeks, and, "Go, Canada, go!"

They invited the media to be there with microphones and cameras, to help them deliver their encouragement to 21-year-old Toews, a star forward with the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks who had grown up learning the game at that St. Vital facility.

"He's our hometown boy from our club, and he's going to the Olympics -- we just want to tell Jonathan how proud we are of him," Carolyn Maguet, youth director at the Dakota complex, said after the entire crowd -- mostly children -- on the ice shouted their message toward the cameras.

"We just want him to know that we want him to bring home the gold, and bring it back to Dakota."

The "personal video message," she said, will not only appear in the media, but will be sent by e-mail to Toews in the coming days.

"Good luck Jonathan, bring home the gold!" the crowd shouted, before repeatedly chanting, "Go Canada go!"

EXPRESSED PRIDE

On hand for the event were the Team Canada player's parents, who expressed pride in not only their son, but in those sending the message.

Bryan Toews, Jonathan's father, noted that Dakota's indoor and outdoor rinks are "where it all started" for his son at the age of five in the mid-1990s.

"It seems like yesterday when Jonathan was out here," Bryan Toews said while standing in a players' box as his son's fans skated on the ice -- many of them wearing Dakota, Team Canada and Blackhawks jerseys.

"To share this special send-off is just great," he added. "He'll feel so proud that not long ago this was part of his life."

The crowd of well-wishers included Barry Catt and Debbie Ritchot, Dakota Community Centre executives who carried the Olympic Torch during the flame's recent relay across the city.

Wearing a Blackhawks jersey signed by Toews and bearing the star's No. 19, Mario Maguet, 13, said Canada has "a really good chance" at winning the gold medal.

"He's my favourite player. I really like him," Mario said of Toews. "I'll be watching every game."

Bryan Toews, however, voiced more cautious optimism about the team's prospects.

"We feel they can win," he said. "But some other teams want to win it, too. So it won't be an easy task."

ross.romaniuk@sunmedia.ca

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