‘60 Minutes’ crew to be at tourney
Every coach at the higher levels of hockey wants their team to play for 60 minutes.
During the Fort Frances Atom ‘AA’ Canadians’ home tournament this weekend, the Warroad (Mn.) Squirt A’s—and whoever they play against in at least some of their games—will get to do exactly that.
“My first reaction was, ‘Is this a prank?’” Spence laughed about being contacted by a producer from the show in recent weeks.
“I was in disbelief,” he admitted. “But as we talked more, it started making more sense.
“They were asking permission to come to the tournament,” Spence recalled.
“I figured I should ask someone else before I said yes, so I checked with [Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association president] Wayne Strachan and [Community Services manager] Jason Kabel.”
“60 Minutes” is working on a feature promoting Warroad as “Hockeytown U.S.A.,” based on the community of about 1,700 people producing two recent U.S. Olympic team selections.
St. Louis Blues’ forward T.J. Oshie earned a spot on the men’s team while Gigi Marvin was named to the women’s squad that will play in Sochi, Russia in the upcoming Winter Games from Feb. 6-23.
The focus of the television crew’s attention this weekend will be on the Warroad squad and, specifically, nine-year-old forward Daimon Gardner.
Originally from Eagle Lake First Nation near Dryden, Gardner and his three older sisters live in Warroad during the school year so they can polish their hockey skills within a highly-competitive environment.
“There have been teams as far away as in B.C. that have wanted to fly him in for tournaments the past couple of years already,” noted Spence, who has a personal connection with the Gardner family.
“My sons grew up with them . . . Matthew [Spence] and Daimon have played together and against each other for the past couple of years,” he explained.
Meanwhile, word that “60 Minutes” would be on hand this weekend had quite an impact on the Canadians’ players and their parents.
“The boys are all in disbelief,” Spence remarked.
“We told the parents let’s show them why Fort Frances is an important part of this hockey area,” he added.
“Even though we’re a small town, we have a very high percentage of good hockey players come from this area.”
Alas, the Canadians may not get to experience the bright lights of the TV cameras.
Most, if not all, of the filming will take place during Warroad’s two games on Saturday against the Neebing Hawks (9:15 a.m.) and then the Westfort Maroons (5:15 p.m.)
The Canadians are not scheduled to face Warroad in the preliminary round. But after that . . . .
“We’re not going to change the schedule to be part of it,” Spence pledged.
“But the incentive is certainly there to reach the final and maybe get to play them.”
Spence said the feature is expected to air on “60 Minutes” either just before or during the Winter Olympics.
The Canadians open the eight-team tournament Friday at 10:15 a.m. versus Kenora, then squares off against Neebing at 6:15 p.m.
On Saturday, the Canadians go up against Dryden at 12:15 p.m. and then meet Westfort at 5:15 p.m.
The playoffs are set for Sunday, with the final slated for 1:30 p.m.