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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hockey Day in Lockport. For me, it lived up to every expectation I had, and I had some lofty expectations. The only disappointment was not being able to see the sled hockey game because it was canceled. But other than that, the day was pretty much everything it was advertised as being.

When you add in the Christmas events going on in and around the Palace, you get a night that the people in Lockport can be proud of. The Christmas parade this year was light years better than any previous Lockport Christmas parades. Thousands of people lined the streets to see the floats and parade participants, and this year there was plenty worth seeing. They started lining up as early as 5:45 p.m. (from what I could see) for a 7:00 p.m. parade. In Lockport, that is always a good sign.

Thousands at the Christmas events all day and thousands at the arena all day long. Were they the same thousands of people? Does it matter? The point is that thousands of people in the city of Lockport enjoyed two huge events, both events were successful, and nothing bad happened. It was a night that we should never forget, and definitely something we should think about doing again really soon.

My experience of Hockey Day in Lockport may be a little different than yours, but surprisingly similar to Craig Bacon’s. We spent a big portion of the day in the timekeeper’s box for the Heinrich Rink keeping time and cracking wise over the loudspeakers for the alumni games and the Lockport Express exhibition.

The only thing I will say about the rink events is that you are way, way too quiet, Lockport. When I was making wise guy comments throughout the first period of the Express exhibition, I suspected I was talking to an empty arena. I was told after the first period that you were in the stands en masse. Why are you so quiet, Lockport? Speak up! Have fun! For God’s sake, SAY SOMETHING! The Express will appreciate it when they start playing again this weekend.

If you did not go to Hockey Day in Lockport, then you missed NHL memorabilia auctions, some incredibly cool 1970s Sabres pictures, old Lockport youth hockey jerseys, plenty of old Lockport youth hockey pictures, Rick Jeanneret, Sabretooth, a ton of hockey games, Rick Jeanneret, and Rick Jeanneret. Did I mention that you missed Rick Jeanneret?

The Hall of Fame voice of the Buffalo Sabres was in town to help emcee an extremely classy event put on by the sponsors, the organizers of the event, and the arena itself. It was the unveiling of a banner dedicated to Lockport’s own Ted Darling, and it is an impressive banner. You can see it when you go to the arena next, but you have already missed Rick Jeanneret’s dedication speech if you were not in the arena Saturday. So, your loss I guess.

For me, it was a day I will definitely never forget. To see the city enjoy itself like that for an entire day was a sight to behold. No one fought, or argued, or did anything too awfully stupid. I was not only happy to see the whole city enjoy itself, I was taken back to the days when these kinds of things happened all the time. Those were the days, and I would love to see those days come back.

I saw lots of people I had not seen for many years at Hockey Day, I met some people I had been meaning to meet, I met my childhood idol (did I mention that Rick Jeanneret was there?), and I am sure I annoyed people who have been sick of me for years. But, through it all, I would say that you absolutely missed something if you were not at Hockey Day. Hopefully, they do Hockey Day and the Christmas parade on different days next year so those of us in the media can enjoy both. But believe me, I am not complaining.

It was a great day for Lockport. It was a day that reminded me of my youth, and a day that gave me some hope for the future. Let’s do this every week, what do you say?

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident and hockey junkie. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at

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