A videographer records Haliburton’s Matt Duchene putt in the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation fundraiser at the Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre’s golf course earlier this summer. This footage is expected to be part of a feature highlighting Duchene and the area which will be aired on Sportsnet and Sportsnet NOW during the Boston at Las Vegas game starting at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday Oct. 15. /DARREN LUM Staff

Hometown Hockey to showcase Highlands 

The Haliburton Highlands will be included as one of the first four communities to be visited on this year’s Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour from Oct. 14 to 15 hosted by hockey broadcast personalities Ron MacLean and Tara Sloane.

According to a press release the two-day celebration of hockey takes place every weekend. It is open to all ages and is free of charge. These events have featured special guests musical acts and are capped off with an outdoor viewing party of the Sportsnet broadcast which will include MacLean and Sloan who will “tee up each weekend’s match-up.”

During the Highlands stop the live broadcast will coincide with the Boston at Las Vegas game at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday Oct. 15.

Specific details related to the Highlands itinerary and location will not be released until four weeks before the scheduled weekend. During Sunday’s game Sportsnet will broadcast a segment highlighting Colorado Avalanche centreman Matt Duchene.

The Hometown Hockey broadcast will be aired nationally on Sportsnet and Sportsnet NOW.

Duchene said they interviewed him at his cottage in the Haliburton area and filmed him his wife Ashley and dog on the boat.

“It’s a big deal for our little town and I really think we embody everything that they look for when they select a town to host Hometown Hockey in” he told the Echo via email.

Haliburton County Warden Brent Devolin was happy about the Highlands’ inclusion.

“We are honoured to have been selected as a stop along the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour for the 2017-2018 season. The Haliburton Highlands has a rich hockey history and we’re so proud to have NHL players both current and alumni hail from our beautiful community. We look forward to sharing our region with the rest of Canada during the broadcast this fall” he said in a press release.

The Highlands is the second stop of 24 during the tour’s fourth year on the 2017-2018 season. The first stop will be in Niagara Falls.

Hockey is a big part of life in the Highlands.

It stretches back over the decades: informal games of shinny on lakes; hockey tournaments in Minden and Haliburton such as Silver Stick; the Ontario championship-winning Jr. D Haliburton Huskies during the 1970-1971 season; the Red Hawks of Hal High; the presence of NHL greats such as Gordie Howe with Hockey Haven; the recent addition of Canadian National Pond Hockey championships; and the outdoor gala for the premiere of the film There’s Something in the Water .

The Highlands has also been home to notable past and current NHL players such as Ron Stackhouse Bernie Nicholls Cody Hodgson and Duchene. Also retired players such as Glen Sharpley and Walt McKechnie made the Highlands their homes and started businesses in retirement.

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in the builder category Scotty Morrison makes his home here and has put his name to fundraising efforts such as the Scotty Morrison Hockey Tournament which in the past raised money for Community Support Services. Rogers vice-president of sponsorship and experiences Nigel Scott said the Highlands fits this tour well.

“Haliburton Highlands has a rich hockey culture that is the perfect fit for this festival. We wanted to explore that further and highlight Haliburton’s contribution to hockey on the national stage” he said.

He adds for non-hockey fans this tour is about celebrating the showcased communities.

“While the festival and broadcast are focused on hockey they are also very much a celebration of the communities themselves. The two-day festival is extremely family-friendly free of charge and a fantastic weekend activity for people of all ages.

“Rogers Hometown Hockey will give the people of Haliburton Highlands an opportunity to see their community celebrated proudly across the country” he said.

In a press release MacLean said he is looking forward to making the trip.

“This tour is about discovering all the ways that hockey is woven into the fabric of our nation and these opening communities will set the stage for a phenomenal season of doing just that … these first four communities represent the start of another coast-to-coast exploration of not only now hockey unites us as Canadians but also how beautiful every part of our country is. I’m ready to get the show started” he said.