|The Atom Development Legends took on the Kelowna Rockets at the first Winter Classic Sunday on Black Mountain in a fast-paced one-hour game.|
This was their Winter Classic - and a memorable one, as they played against some of their favourite junior hockey players.
The Atom Development Legends took on the Kelowna Rockets in a fast-paced one-hour game at the first Winter Classic at Black Mountain.
"It was really fun and I'll definitely remember it," said Tessa Kosec who plays defence for the Atom Development Legends.
The Atom Development Legends, made up of 10 and 11-year-olds, were the winners of a poster designing contest for the Atom division teams of Kelowna Minor Hockey. The team's winning poster gave them the opportunity to play against the Rockets.
"It was a thrilling event. Close action on both ends, not too much defence but it was a good game," said Dean Corrado, head coach of the Atom Legends.
Corrado said they lost count of the score after a while - but the smiles on the kids faces were the scores that counted.
"There were a ton of smiles on my team. I think it's going to be the highlight of their year," he said.
The cold winter air didn't deter the crowd, mostly made up of parents and grandparents, from cheering on the Legends as they scored goal after goal on the Rockets net.
Tracey Lewis proudly watched her son Kyler play as she took pictures from the side of the frozen pond.
"It's been so exciting and something that he'll remember forever. It's once in a lifetime," she said.
The game played out like any outdoor pond hockey game. There were penalty shots, a shootout and a little scuffle between players on the ice, all in good fun. People watching the game stayed warm by the bonfire and were treated to free hotdogs and hot chocolate.
The afternoon was just as exciting for players on the Kelowna Rockets. Henrik Nyberg, right winger for the Rockets scored a few goals during the game and remembered the excitement of getting to play against some of his hockey heroes while growing up in Sweden.
"I played with Peter Forsberg and Mats Sundin when I was younger," he said. "It was awesome; these were some of the biggest guys in the NHL."
A soccer injury last spring, kept J.J. Watson sidelined Sunday, but getting an autographed stick from player Tyrell Goulbourne made up for missing the game.
"He signed his stick and gave it to me, it's so cool," she said.
Goulbourne said that one of the best parts of being a Rocket is getting to give back to the community.
"It's always great playing and giving back to the community. They show us a lot of support and after our standing ovation on Saturday night, it's the least we could do. We love doing all of this stuff."
Andrew Bruce, the regional manager of Melcor, grilled about 300 hotdogs for people coming to watch the game. Melcor Developments partnered up with the Kelowna Rockets and Kelowna Minor Hockey to put on the event. Calling the game the Winter Classic was an easy decision for Melcor.
"Well, it wasn't happening with the NHL this year and we thought it would be the best name for an outdoor game."
"It was a great success. We had great conditions on the ice, the kids were ecstatic and we want to do it again next year," he said.