Some people didn't get the memo - everything was closed in the city on Friday - but there was a hockey game to be played

By Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2023



The notice came from City Hall:

The City of Burlington’s recreational facilities, Sims Square, Downtown Transit Terminal, Halton Court Services and City Hall are closing as of 3 p.m. today, Friday, March 10. All recreation programs and rentals have been cancelled.

The snow storm was well underway and most people buckled down for a night at home. Hockey players are not “most people”.

The Burlington Cougars were to play the first game of the season finals and were scheduled to play the Markham Royals at the Central Arena.

At around 2:00 pm on Friday the 10th, the Cogeco camera crew arrived at Central Arena to set up their equipment to broadcast the game over the Cogeco Cable Network.

The doors to the Arena were locked. Banging on the doors brought the two city staff members to the door who explained that the Arena was closed and they were on their way home.

There was a Cougar volunteer in the small office the team has at the Arena was very surprised to learn that the arena wasn’t going to be open.

The several hour frantic process of ensuring that the arena would be open began.

The two city staffers couldn’t reach their supervisor, he (or she) was away for the next few days and they didn’t have the authority to do anything.

Calls were put into the Markham team who were in the process of loading their bus to get to Burlington for the 7:00 pm game.

A resourceful few made calls to the other arenas, Appleby and Mainway, where they were able to find two people (it was not clear if they were city employees or volunteers) who were prepared to keep the Central Area opened providing they were paid time and a half.

Our source, a Burlington resident who is “around” the hockey community and wanted to tell the story of what he thought was a monumental screw up.

The people doing the scrambling and making phone calls to whoever they felt they could reach wondered where “Ange” was, certain that he could solve the problem. “Ange” was Angelo Bentivegna, the ward 6 city Councillor who has been around hockey for is as long is as he has been in Burlington.

Close attention as to just where the puck is.

No one apparently tried to call him, nor did they put in a call to the Mayor or the City Manager.

The city was in the middle of a major snow storm and the city had shut down.

The Markham team managers said they had to leave no later than 3:00 pm if they were to get to Burlington on time – if they couldn’t the game would have to be cancelled.

The Cougars had home ice advantage and they didn’t want to lose that – and no one knew quite how the playoff schedule could revised if the game was cancelled.

So they did everything they could to keep the arena open – which they did.

At around 7:00 pm people began showing up – a total of about 300 people were on hand for the game –which the Cougars won.


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