On November 1, the Greater Toronto Hockey League officially dropped the puck on the 2021-2022 season – 20 months and 598 days since the last league game took place.
The night, signifying the launch of the season’s theme of unity, welcomed McKenzie Health Hospital’s Patient Care Manager and registered nurse Teresa Sitlani, Seaside Hockey co-founder Kirk Brooks and Seaside Hockey players, 10-year-old Aaron Neethan and six-year-old Anjalica Neethan, GTHL third Vice President Kathie Wood, and President of the Little Native Hockey League Marian Jacko.
Additional guests of honour included Deputy Mayor of Vaughan and Regional Councillor Mario Ferri, Deputy Mayor of Toronto Michael Thompson, Mayor of Markham Frank Scarpitti, and the Mayor of Mississauga, Bonnie Crombie and Mississauga’s Commissioner of Corporate Services Shari Lichterman. The dignitaries joined the Vaughan Kings, Toronto Titans, Markham Majors and Mississauga Senators respectively in representing the four municipalities that span the GTHL.
Tonight we dropped the puck on the 2021-22 season.
Thanks to Teresa for representing frontline workers, @seasidehockey, @frankscarpitti, @MarioFFerri, Marian Jacko, @BonnieCrombie, @Thompson_37 & our four teams for celebrating the start with us.#TogetherWeSkate | #IPlayInTheG pic.twitter.com/8Gx95aOMEO
— GTHL Hockey (@GTHLHockey) November 2, 2021
The ceremony began with a land acknowledgment followed by a speech from Jacko, who shared: “I’m very, very proud and honoured to be here with you to mark this memorial experience for you all tonight – it’s been way too long without hockey.”
Ferri followed: “It’s time for a good game of hockey!”
“I’m excited and happy to be in an arena as a former hockey dad,” Thompson said.
Next was Scarpitti, highlighting the GTHL’s season theme of unity and the true example found in frontline workers.
“The GTHL has chosen the theme of unity,” he said. “And I just want to say to the hockey players, that there’s no better example of unity, there’s no better example of coming together as a team than our frontline workers over the past year and a half.”
Rounding out the speeches, Crombie touched on Mississauga’s contributions to minor hockey and acknowledged the efforts made by so many to get everyone back on the ice safely.
On the officiating side of things, Matthew Sutton, Danielle Williams, Daniel Sepe, and Ryan Bounsall were the referees for the first two games of the 2021-22 season.