By Michael Christianson
Some of Dryden’s finest hockey players came home on July 26 for Home Town Proud Day in Dryden with the hopes of raising money for the Dryden Memorial Arena.
The DREAM (Dryden Recreation Extension and Modification) committee brought the stars to meet the public and sign autographs at the Dryden Memorial Arena before a dinner honouring the athletic guests.At the arena were former NHL players Wayne Mulion and Dennis Owchar, hockey stars Ron Anderson and Darcy Mitani, former player and fresh off winning the AHL championship as assistant coach Bruce Ramsay and of course the two biggest names Chris and Sean Pronger.
After signing autographs for everyone in attendance the players made their way to the Agricultural Centre for a dinner, speeches, an auction and paying more honour to the hockey talent that has come out of Dryden.
Honoured at the dinner were other notable Dryden hockey names; Blaine Hoshizaki, Bill Salonen, Jack Vivian’s sister read a letter from the former NHL scout and current CEO of JRV Management and Consulting, a firm specializing in ice arena construction, operation and management as he could not attend. Gib Nordins’ son was in attendance, Dennis Rathwell was unable to attend but was spoken of and Don Boyd could not attend but he sent an autographed Ottawa Senators Jersey to be auctioned off. Warren Bruetsch was also there but Konrad could not attend.
After a buffet dinner served by young community hockey players the fundraiser auction began. Some hot ticket items were jerseys signed by Connor McDavid and another signed by Patrik Laine; they sold for $3,800 and $1,150 respectively. The auction brought in over $11,000 for the arena.
“I think our goal to get the word out also we accomplished because the feedback we are getting from people who want to get on board with us and support us, that’s been positive too so that’s a huge accomplishment too,” said DREAM co-chair Marnie Oliphant.
After the auction were speeches from Bruce Ramsay, Sean and Chris Pronger. Ramsay reminisced about his career and the journey from Dryden to where he is now in heart felt speech that was also full of laughs.Chris said it was great to be home and connect with family, friends and other old faces he recognized. He hopes to see the arena get back in shape so that community children have a safe place to hang out and play with their friends.
“Having a place like the arena community centre gives a safe haven of sorts for kids to hang out at and go to, whether it be junior games or their own practices and games and things of that nature, an opportunity to forge friendships, new and old and be a part of a team,” said Chris Pronger.
“Something I didn’t really touch on because it was getting a little late but the ability for kids to understand the team concept, work ethic, all the things I firmly believe hockey provides for young kids it gives them building blocks for the future in whatever job they may get in the future. Playing hockey or playing competitive sport in a team environment does that.”Sean Pronger began his speech praising the hard work and dedication of Oliphant and the DREAM committee. He said his life would be a lot different without an arena growing up and that he hopes someone stands up in 20 years and shares their memories of the Dryden Memorial Arena.“If I could choose a time in my life to live over again without question I’d want to be 12 years old playing in the Dryden Arena,” said Sean Pronger. “I think the real question is, what does the Dryden Arena mean to you? This is your town, your arena, your kids, your grandkids, your memories. I want you to imagine it’s your kid or grandchild up here, imagine them telling you what the Dryden Arena meant to them, what their memories are, what would you want them to say?”