Orillia, ON – Cheers and even a few tears were shed over the weekend, as past and present residents gathered for Hockey Day In Orillia celebrations. From a Don Cherry Look-A-Like contest to ball and ice hockey games, hundreds took the opportunity to honour Canada’s national sport.
Some, like Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and CFOR Radio sports reporter Ken ‘Jiggs’ McDonald, traveled long distances to be a part of the festivities. McDonald, who has broadcasted NHL games for various teams since 1967, returned to Orillia from his Florida home to be a part of the celebration. “I’m flattered to be honoured,” McDonald told Orillia Today. McDonald was recognized at Friday night’s Orillia Tundras-Brandford Blast game, along with former CFOR sports director, the late Barry Norman, Orillia Ball Hockey Association referee, the late Kevin Lovell and Orillia Minor Hockey Association mite program founder Gail Duck.
Also honoured with special awards were Orillia Girls Hockey Association volunteers Mike Snyder and Morris Walsh. The late John Groen was honoured for his work with the Orillia Ball Hockey Club. Orillia Girls Hockey Association volunteer Lee Wassell was on hand to make the presentations to Snyder and Walsh. “Mike and Morris have given a lot of volunteer time to girls hockey and it’s nice to give them some recognition,” said Wassell.
The radio voice of the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders, Atlanta Flames and Florida Panthers, McDonald said his years in Orillia were memorable.
“It was a great time, covering intermediate and junior hockey in Orillia and then on into the Allan Cup years with the Terriers’ Senior A teams. Those were special times in town,” he noted. McDonald said clincher in attending the celebration was the fact the event organizers also honoured his long-time friend and co-worker Barry Norman.
Barry’s widow, Dorothy and grandson Joshua accepted personalized Tundras hockey sweaters from Ontario Hockey Association president Brett Ladds. Ladds played goal with the Senior A Terriers during his brief hockey time in Orillia during the 1970s.
In addition to the Friday presentations, the Orillia Ball Hockey Outdoor Hockey Hall of Fame inducted two players, Josh Doxen and Mike Serbinek. With his colourful attire and personality, Donny Smith was named the winner of the Don Cherry look-a-like contest.
Orillia Major Angelo Orsi was on hand Friday night to conduct the opening faceoff at the Orillia Tundras-Brantford game, while also participating in the pre-game ceremonies. Branford won Friday’s game 6-4, but the Tundras rebounded Saturday to post a 6-5 win over the Norwood Vipers in the battle for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Allan Cup Hockey League standings.
Throughout the day Saturday, representative and house league teams skated at Rotary Place, with participants receiving commemorative pucks.