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Highly successful hockey weekend in Cape Breton

The NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and the Florida Panthers at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. (CTV/Kyle Moore) The NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and the Florida Panthers at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. (CTV/Kyle Moore)

A sell-out crowd of nearly 5,000 fans filled Sydney's Centre 200 on Sunday to witness the first NHL Exhibition game on the island in a long-time.

Former Cape Breton Eagle Drake Batherson did not disappoint, adding 4 points to the score sheet in Ottawa's victory over the Florida Panthers.

The Nova Scotia native did it in front of nearly 50 friends and family.

“It was just awesome to play in front of them. A lot of them haven't seen me play since junior, so it was a really special day for my family and Sydney in general,” said Batherson

Much of that crowd Sunday was Cape Breton Blizzard players and their families, who won the Hockeyville contest for their hometown.

“It was like one big party with all of the people who have helped us along the way so far and are joining us on this journey as we keep going,” said Christina Lamey, Cape Breton Female Blizzard Association president

On Monday the talk was more about the women's game and increasing diversity in the sport.

“If it’s truly Canada's National winter sport the all individuals, regardless of race, regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds, should have an opportunity to play,” said Dean Smith, Hockey Nova Scotia diversity and inclusion chair

Smith, the Willie O’Ree Award winner, was one of the speakers at the Future of Hockey Forum held in Membertou First Nation.

The event was highlighted by the keynote speaker, Andrew Ference, director of youth strategy at the NHL and a Stanley Cup Champion.

“We know through the demographics in the places that we are, and also our own insights into our sport, we don't currently represent the communities. We are over indexed and we're lacking that diversity that our communities have within them,” said Ference.

Lamey says there is much more on the way that Cape Breton hockey fans can get excited about.

“We're looking very hard at trying to bring a PWHL game to our area and also major women's tournaments like the IIHF, so I think we're setting ourselves up for a bright future and the sport and the growth of the game,” she said.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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