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Hometown Hockey to visit five WHL markets

Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour is returning for a third run and five Western Hockey League markets are set to play host throughout the 2016-17 season.

Among the 24 communities scheduled for stops on the upcoming Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour are Moose Jaw (Jan. 7-8), Vancouver (Jan. 14-15), Edmonton (Feb. 4-5), Cranbrook (Feb. 18-19) and Medicine Hat (March 4-5).

Each year, Rogers Hometown Hockey embarks upon a cross-country extravaganza, bringing to life the shared passion that unites hockey fans and families in Canada. Each stop on the tour includes two days of activities and celebrations, including music, NHL alumni, local heroes and entertainment.

Ron MacLean will once again host the season-long event, alongside co-host Tara Slone.

“How could Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia produce both Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon? Who or what led Manitoba to develop Jocelyne Larocque, Brigette Lacquette and Halli Krzyzaniak; three defencemen on our National Women’s Team from neighbouring small towns?” MacLean said in a news release. “On Rogers Hometown Hockey we answer these questions with stories that put actual faces on the heart and soul of our game – the roots of success each and every Sunday.”

The tour will begin in Newmarket, Ont. – home of Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid – and conclude in Hamilton.

Moose Jaw, home of the Warriors, is the first WHL market on the Hometown Hockey Tour schedule from Jan. 7-8. As a lead into Hometown Hockey weekend in Moose Jaw, the Warriors will host the Saskatoon Blades on Friday, Jan. 6 (7pm CST).

Home of the Snowbirds – Canada’s military aerobatic air show flight demonstration team – Moose Jaw has also produced a number of quality hockey stars and Western Leaguers, including Clark Gillies (Regina Pats, 1971 to 1974) and Brent Gilchrist (Kelowna Wings, 1983 to 1985; Spokane Chiefs 1985 to 1987). Current Edmonton Oil Kings left winger Branden Klatt also hails from Moose Jaw.

Vancouver, home of the Giants, is the second WHL market on the Hometown Hockey Tour itinerary from Jan. 14-15. Once again, as a lead into the festivities, the Giants will host the Warriors at the Langley Events Centre on Friday, Jan. 13 (7:30pm PST).

One of the most livable cities in the world, Vancouver has been a hotbed for WHL stars, producing the likes of Mathew Barzal (Seattle Thunderbirds, 2013 to present), Barry Beck (Kamloops Chiefs, 1974-75; New Westminster Bruins, 1975 to 1977), Stu Grimson (Regina Pats, 1983 to 1985), Ryan Johansen (Portland Winterhawks, 2009 to 2011), Evander Kane (Vancouver Giants, 2007 to 2009) and Milan Lucic (Vancouver Giants, 2005 to 2007), just to name a few.

Barzal, along with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Matt Bradley, Swift Current Broncos goaltender Taz Burman, Tri-City Americans forward Maxwell James and Kamloops Blazers forward Jake Kryski all currently play in the WHL and hail from Vancouver.

After stopping along the coast, the Hometown Hockey Tour heads north for Edmonton, home of the WHL’s Oil Kings, from Feb. 4-5.

The City of Champions has produced a wealth of high-end hockey talent, including, but not limited to, Dave Babych (Portland Winterhawks, 1978 to 1980), Jay Bouwmeester (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1999 to 2002), Johnny Boychuk (Calgary Hitmen, 2000 to 2002-03; Moose Jaw Warriors, 2002-03 to 2004), Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver Giants, 2008 to 2012), Kelly Hrudey (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1978 to 1981) and Dion Phaneuf (Red Deer Rebels, 2001 to 2005).

Currently, Vancouver Giants forward Tyler Benson, Lethbridge Hurricanes forwards Brayden Burke and Giorgio Estephan, Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Brendan Guhle and Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender Jordan Papirny, amongst others, also hail from Edmonton.

Cranbrook, home of the Kootenay ICE, serves as the fourth WHL stop on the Hometown Hockey Tour from Feb. 18-19. The ICE welcome the Saskatoon Blades to town on Friday, Feb. 17 (7pm MST), before then hosting the Victoria Royals on Saturday, Feb. 18 (7pm MST).

Situated in the heart of the southern Rocky Mountains, Cranbrook boasts its own hockey history having produced Ray Allison (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1975 to 1979) and Jon Klemm (Seattle Thunderbirds, 1987-88; Spokane Chiefs, 1988 to 1991), among others. Hometown product Payton Lee currently tends the crease for the ICE.

The fifth and final WHL stop on the Hometown Hockey Tour will take the festivities to Medicine Hat from March 4-5.

Perhaps the most celebrated Tiger of all-time, Trevor Linden (1985 to 1988) hails from Medicine Hat, as does defenceman Connor Clouston, who currently mans the blueline for the Tigers.

“Over the past two seasons, communities across the country have welcomed us with open arms and it has been nothing short of a privilege to be able to share their stories with the rest of Canada,” Slone said. “To do this alongside Ron MacLean, hockey’s greatest raconteur, has been the thrill of my career. I know that both Ron and I are beyond excited for each and every tour stop as we embark on our third season. In particular, I’m eager to get back to my hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia.”

Over the last two hockey seasons, the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour has visited 49 communities across Canada, traveling 56,000 km (more than six times the length of the Canada/U.S. border), while welcoming 400,000 visitors to the festival.

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