Sunday, January 29, 2006


Ontario Hockey League All Star Cards-2006

All Star fever has reached frenzied levels in the Quinte area.

Let me rephrase that. I asked a friend who is a fervent hockey fan if he is ready for the All Star Fan Fest and related activities and he replied: “ Yes, I suppose so”. Not exactly frenzied, but typically Canadian.

There are very few tickets remaining for the game, for the luncheon, and for the skills competition. But there are other activities related to the event that will provide excitement for the entire family. No reservations necessary.

The OHL All Star Fan Fest has a variety of features for everyone. It takes place at the Wally Dever Arena---the other ice pad at the Quinte Sports Centre---from 4:00pm to 7:00pm prior to the game on Wednesday. Music from Immortality, members of the Canadian Men’s Sledge hockey team, Hall of Fame Displays, local hockey displays including the Wellington Dukes, an air hockey tournament against current Belleville Bulls, and chance to meet many of the Bulls’ alumni.

I have attended a few Fan Fests---in Toronto and Montreal for hockey and baseball---related to All Star games, and they are amazing events. Almost overwhelming for us small town folk. To get through the crowd, just drop your shoulder a little, the way Gordie did, pulling the kids with both your hands, and enjoy the sights and sounds---and smells too! There is food available. Kids are free, with an adult who pays five bucks.

And pick up a set of the Bell All Star Classic cards as well. Do not hesitate. “Do not pass go” until you have your cards. They will be a souvenir from this event that you will cherish for years to come. Imagine pulling out the cards from the first all star game held in Belleville! Yzerman, Gilmour, Verbeek, Al MacInnis, and Kirk Muller, to name a few. They would be worth hundreds of dollars. But they don’t exist!

Which is all the more reason why you should grab a couple of packs of this year’s cards and throw them into your hockey bag.

Almost every one of the players in the set of cards will play in the NHL. There are veterans from the World Junior Championships from the Gold Medal winning Canadian team, from the American team, and Andrej Sekera from the Slovakian team. There are players from the ADT Canada-Russia Series held in November. There are others who won Gold Medals in the Under –18 World Cup last August. Most have been drafted. Scouts will line the rafters at the Yardmen, drooling over the few who have not yet had their names announced at the NHL’s annual cattle call. Impeccable credentials, every one.

Kelly and Lalande from the Bulls, Emmerton and Stewart from the Kingston Frontenacs, Downie and Jordan Staal from the Petes. Pouliot, Bolland, Pyatt, O’Marra, Blunden, and Marc Staal from the Canadian World Junior team. Robbie Shremp, Callahan, and Bobby Ryan from the American team.

And not to forget Dan LaCosta from the Wellington Dukes. The Labrador City Kid now toils for the Barrie Colts in his fourth year in the OHL. He was picked in the third round by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and could be the next Duke to tend the twine in the NHL, following in Andrew Raycroft’s footsteps.

Forty cards in the set. Great photographs from Dan Hamilton, and intelligent blurbs on the back from Aaron Bell. The set is a steal for ten bucks. Get them at the Bulls’ Shop, or at the Fan Fest. This event will take at least another 25 years to come back to Belleville again.
Be there. Keep your stick on the ice.

James Hurst

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