Written by Harold
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After an absence of 187 years, professional hockey finally “came home,” and played what could be described as the winter classic of the century.
Unless you read the Ottawa Citizen, you likely missed Ken Warren’s story that appeared in the November 20, 2012 edition entitled:
“NHL players take historic flight”
In order to fill in some time while the lock out was in full swing, a group of NHL players took part in something called the Northern Lights Dream tour, and played a number of exhibition games in several remote, northern communities, including Yellowknife and Deline, which is located on Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories.
They flew to Deline on a vintage DC 3, courtesy of Buffalo Airways, and according to the article; the players were thrilled with the idea of being on a plane that was built in 1942, and saw service during the Second World War.
Having flown a DC 3 to Great Bear myself on several occasions, I can attest to the fact that it is definitely an experience to remember – and not unlike travelling to Great Bear itself, is very much like stepping back in time – which, in a manner of speaking, is exactly what these players did.
With the exception of serious hockey historians, most people are likely unaware that there is some solid evidence to suggest that the first ice hockey game in North America was played on Grey Goose Lake, which is located just a short distance from Deline.
During the winter of 1825/26, noted explorer Sir John Franklin spent the winter at a Hudson’s Bay fur trading post (subsequently named Fort Franklin) which was near the present day site of the town, and noted in his journal, that to pass the time during the long, cold Arctic winter, his men played games of hockey on the ice.
As a matter of fact, Deline was recognized by the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories as being the birthplace of hockey in Canada.
Forget about those outdoor extravaganzas put on by the NHL each season – the real winter classic was played where it all started – in the land of the midnight sun.