OTTAWA - During the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship, there’s hockey action for fans outside the rinks as well as inside. Check out these fun and educational sights and events if you’re fortunate enough to visit Canada’s capital over the holidays.
Located at the historic Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park (1015 Bank St.), the Samsung FanFest offers hockey video games, autograph sessions, Hockey Hall of Fame artifacts, and live TSN TV coverage of the World Juniors. It’s open daily through January 4 from noon to 10 pm (6 pm on December 30), and admission is free.
THE BELL CAPITAL CUP
The Guinness Book of World Records lists the Bell Canada Cup as the world’s largest hockey tournament, featuring atom and peewee minor hockey players (between ages nine and 12) from Ontario, Quebec, and elsewhere in Canada, the United States, and Europe. The biggest-ever participation was in 2007, when 510 teams comprising 8,145 players suited up. This year, 485 teams will take part between December 28 and January 1. See bellcapitalcup.ca for further details.
NEW YEAR’S EVE FUN
If you haven’t scored tickets to the big Canada-USA showdown on December 31 at Scotiabank Place, the next best thing is to attend the Samsung New Year’s Eve Celebration. Taking place at the Rideau Canal Skateway at Rideau St., it’ll include a showing of the hockey game on four big-screen TVs, plus a rock concert featuring Finger Eleven (“Paralyzer,” “One Thing”) and the Amanda Rheaume Band. Fireworks will climax the evening at midnight.
New Year’s Eve revelers can also check out a hockey team-friendly, all-ages party at the Hard Rock Café (73 York St.), entitled “Cold as Ice.”
Head to the City Hall Art Gallery (110 Laurier Ave. West) for a special exhibition called “125 Years of Hockey in Ottawa.” It covers the sport at the amateur, collegiate, and pro levels, with photos, sticks, jerseys, trophies, and other memorabilia. The exhibition runs until January 18.
Another alternative is the “Flyers on Ice” exhibition at the Canada Aviation Museum (11 Aviation Pkwy.), which focuses on the link between aviation and hockey. It was inspired by the Royal Canadian Air Force Flyers team that won the gold medal at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland. There are trivia games for kids, hockey book signings, and more.
Goaltending buffs can view Jacques Plante’s mask at a display of recently acquired artifacts at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The pioneering Montreal Canadiens goalie wore this mask between 1963 and 1965. It was his third overall, and his second using “pretzel” construction rather than a solid fiberglass skin.
REMEMBERING “ONE-EYED FRANK”
One of Ottawa’s most famous bed and breakfasts was originally the custom-built home of the father of one of Canada’s most legendary hockey players. Dating from 1886 in the downtown Sandy Hill neighbourhood, McGee’s Inn (185 Daly Ave.) is a Victorian-style mansion that belonged to John McGee, the Clerk of the Privy Council of Canada under Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. McDonald. McGee’s son Frank played for the Ottawa Silver Seven in the early 1900’s, winning numerous Stanley Cups and once recording a jaw-dropping 14 goals in one playoff game. And he did so despite being blind in one eye.