A familiar name to southern Alberta hockey fans will return to the area in February to provide a boost to the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns hockey program.
Kelly Hrudey, a former National Hockey League goaltender and a veteran broadcaster with “Hockey Night in Canada,” will headline the seventh annual Pronghorns Scholarship Breakfast taking place Wednesday, Feb. 6 in the 1st Choice Savings Centre gymnasium.
Pronghorn Athletics officials feel they’ve scored a winner by securing Hrudey as the event’s main speaker.
“To be able to have Kelly Hrudey come in as our guest speaker, just as we are gearing up to host the U Sports University Cup Men’s National Hockey Championship, is a perfect fit,” Robb Engen, manager of Development & Marketing, Pronghorn Athletics, said in a news release. “Kelly is respected for an outstanding playing career and as one of the best on-air personalities in the game.”
Hrudey, originally from Edmonton, was a familiar figure in southern Alberta hockey circles after playing three seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers before being drafted by the NHL’s New York Islanders in the second round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. He cracked the Islanders’ lineup in 1983-84, starting a 15-year NHL career that also saw him suit up with the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. During his career, he played alongside such NHL superstars as Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and Wayne Gretzky.
He wound up playing 677 regular-season games in the NHL, posting a 3.43 goals-against average, and was at his best in the post-season, appearing in 85 playoff games with a 3.29 GAA.
Hrudey got a taste of life in the broadcast booth even before his playing career ended. He joined CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada full-time in 1998-99 following four years of contributing to the show on a part-time basis during his final four NHL seasons. Besides his work as a studio analyst, Hrudey served as a co-host for the post-game show, “After Hours,” and also worked as a game analyst for western game broadcasts.
The articulate Hrudey received a Gemini Award in 2007 for Best Studio Analyst, recognizing his work on Hockey Night in Canada. In addition to his work with the NHL, Hrudey has covered three Olympic Winter Games including Salt Lake 2002, Torino 2006, and Sochi 2014.
He joined the “NHL on Sportsnet” team in August 2014, and serves as a studio analyst for national broadcasts, including “Hockey Night in Canada,” and as a game analyst for Sportsnet’s Calgary Flames regional broadcasts.
Hrudey’s autobiography, “Calling the Shots: Ups, Downs and Rebounds – My Life in the Great Game of Hockey,” co-written with best-selling author Kirstie McLellan Day, was released in fall 2017. The book’s publisher, HarperCollins Canada, describes it as “a lively and thoughtful memoir, rich in behind-the-scenes anecdotes, humour and insight.”
Hrudey is looking forward to reutrning to southern Alberta to talk about hockey, the U of L Pronghorns and the upcoming national championship event that will be played in Lethbridge March 14-17 at the Enmax Centre.
“I’m extremely excited about coming to the University of Lethbridge and sharing my stories from the great game of hockey,” Hrudey said in the news release. “As an Albertan, I consider it a huge honour to be visiting Lethbridge and especially right before a big event like the men’s national hockey championship.”
The Pronghorn Breakfast has raised more than $289,000 in support of Pronghorn Athletics programs during its six years. As part of its ongoing commitment to athletics, the University of Lethbridge will once again match $100 per ticket, with the funds going directly to the teams.
“Canada West just may be the most competitive conference in the country and in order for our programs to compete, we need to attract the best athletes,” said Ken McInnes, executive director, Sport & Recreation Services. “Through events such as these we are able to offer scholarship packages that bring the best student-athletes to the U of L and create a culture that allows them to succeed both academically and in the athletic arena.”
Tickets for the Pronghorns Scholarship Breakfast are available online at gohorns.ca/breakfast.