Community Reflects on Anniversary of Northern Classic

This part weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the historic Northern Classic and it is with a sense of pride the community looks back on that cold November night.

“The Northern Classic was a statement of the can-do attitude of the people of this Region,” said Tim Reid, Chief Operating Officer at MacDonald Island Park and Co-Chair, Operations for the Northern Classic. “The Northern Classic was a watershed moment where the community decided it deserved unique and world-class social and cultural opportunities right here in Wood Buffalo.”

The first-ever outdoor game in Canadian junior hockey history, the Northern Classic featured the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons and the Drayton Valley Thunder. The Oil Barons downed the Thunder 4-2, as the event drew close to 6,000 spectators – breaking the previous AJHL attendance record of 4,400. Tickets for the Northern Classic sold out in just 54 minutes.

Community and corporate partnership was a major element of the event’s success as a groundbreaking moment for Canada’s winter sport. More than $1 million was raised in support of the Northern Classic, as over 70 different partners backed the event in addition to the over 180 volunteers that worked around-the-clock to ensure the game went off without a hitch.

“No other community could have pulled off this event in such short timelines or brought the spirited excitement that we saw one year ago,” said Sheldon Germain, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Councillor and Chair of the Northern Classic. “Because of the efforts of the community, the Northern Classic truly sent the tone for future events in Wood Buffalo.”

Andrew Boutilier, Executive Director of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Co-Chair, Hockey Operations of the Northern Classic, echoes Germain’s sentiments that the lasting legacy of the game is the impact it has had as the ‘tipping point’ of what’s to come.

“To be part of history in the making was absolutely huge,” said Boutilier. “Lasting partnerships were fostered one year ago that will springboard our community into the future. The Northern Classic brought national recognition to our Region – for all the right reasons.

For more information:

Adam Hardiman, Coordinator, Communications, MacDonald Island Park Corporation