Hockey Canada has once again made its mark on minor hockey in London.
Monday night’s Hockey Canada Foundation gala raised $1.1 million, the most ever brought in from the annual event. London was host of the 15th annual “gala and golf” event.
“In a nutshell, the foundation seeks to enable, educate and engage Canadians through Canada’s game,” said Donna Iampieri, executive director of the Hockey Canada Foundation.
“We want to help remove any of the barriers that could prevent any Canadian child or their family from playing the game that we all love and being part of our communities,” she said.
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During the gala, Mike Babcock, Ryan Smyth, and Danielle Goyette received the Order of Hockey in Canada for their contributions to the game throughout their careers.
Speaking at a Q&A on Monday, Babcock took a look back on some of his favourite moments with the national organization.
“The ’97 world juniors was my first kick at the can really for Canada. A special, special moment to stand there in Switzerland and sing the national anthem with your players,” Babcock said.
“But I would tell you in Vancouver 2010 we played the Russians in the crossover game and (we knew) one of us was going home empty-handed. It was pretty special,” he said.
It was also announced that London will host the Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup —formerly known as the World Sledge Hockey Challenge — in December.
Tyler McGregor, a Forest, Ont., native and longtime member of Canada’s national para ice hockey team, said he is looking forward to playing so close to home.
“I love the city of London. I was diagnosed with cancer here and essentially had my life saved in this area,” said McGregor, who lost his left leg to spindle cell sarcoma.
“There’s a lot of people in this community that I want to be able to see and play in front of and hopefully win a gold medal.”
Hockey Canada also honoured the 2018 gold medal winning World Junior Team, which included Robert Thomas and Alex Formenton.
— With files from Jaclyn Carbone, Mike Stubbs and Jake Jeffrey