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Richmond celebrates Hockey Day

It was Hockey Day Saturday at the Richmond Olympic Oval, where thousands of fans shared their passion for the game at Richmond Celebrates Hockey Day ‘13.

Among them was longtime Richmond Coun. Harold Steves.

“It was great fun. It’s always fun playing hockey,” said the veteran councillor, who participated in his second celebrity ball hockey game featuring Hockey Hall of Famer and former Montreal Canadiens’ great Guy Lafleur.

Lafleur’s presence was a treat for many of those who visited the oval on the weekend, but particularly Steves.

“He was one of my hockey heroes,” said Steves, who himself played hockey for the University of B.C. Thunderbirds in 1958. “It was before Vancouver had an NHL team and I supported the Montreal Canadiens. So having a chance to play on the same team as Lafleur was a real thrill.”

Steves said Hockey Day is a “great” event and hopes it not only returns in future years, but that it expands even more. He’d like for Richmond to be able to host Hockey Night in Canada’s Hockey Day, with which Richmond Celebrates coincides.

“Hockey is part of our community and heritage and I think that’s why people enjoy this so much,” he said. “And when you get NHL stars playing with ordinary citizens like myself, and then they’re available to sign autographs afterwards, it’s a special thing.”

City of Richmond spokesman Ted Townsend confirmed the event was “a huge success.”

“Everybody I talked to at the event seemed to be having a good time, and certainly all our participants seemed to really enjoy themselves,” he said.

While many participants seem to want the event to continue, it’s still not a certainty, Townsend said.

“It’s certainly been our goal to continue and grow this event, but we have to do an event review and report back to council about next year,” said Townsend. “And next year will be a bit of a challenge because the (Winter) Olympics will be on at the same time as Hockey Day is normally held. So we’ll have to look at that and determine if we shift the date or how we address that.”

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