Rock the Park crew develop touring road hockey tournament

Former London Knights and NHL player Brandon Prust, left, and Brad Jones, president of Jones Entertainment Group, are seen at the Western Fair Sports Centre, one of five locations in Canada thus far where the London-based entertainment company will be hosting its Hockeyfest event. JONATHAN JUHA/THE LONDON FREE PRESS

Think of it as a combination of a road hockey tournament and Rock the Park.

That’s what London-based Jones Entertainment Group (JEG) is offering as part of a touring festival being launched next year.

The idea behind the event, called Hockeyfest, is to give kids and people of all ages a chance to play the sport they love in a setting that allows families to have a good time even when visiting another town, said Brad Jones, president of JEG, which runs the city-owned Centennial Hall and organizes the annual Rock The Park downtown music festival.

“Instead of a music festival, it will be a hockey festival,” he said.

“We will have DJs playing during the tournaments, interactive games for families, food trucks, all of those things.”

But the focus will remain on the playing experience, Jones said.

Contrary to other road hockey tournaments that use curbs or hay bales as boards, Jones said they have designed patented portable boards that can be assembled to create rinks half the size of an NHL playing surface, adding they can fit 12 of these rinks in a single transport truck.

Jones also said they’ll install netting behind the nets to ensure the ball remains in play and use referees from local associations for their tournaments.

“Each kid will be able to feel like they are playing in a real arena,” he said.

The idea came out of a growing need for sports arenas to attract people to their facilities, Jones said.

“So many of these places are looking for events to host and new concepts to attract people to these buildings,” he said. “So, we built this touring model so we can go into markets and partner with teams who want to engage with their fan base during the off-season and other organizations.”

The festival tour will start next year in Peterborough. Thus far, there are five confirmed events in the province, including in London, where the festival will take place at the Western Fair Sports Centre May 25 and 26.

Jones said the company also is in conversation with six NHL teams to bring the tournament to their cities in 2020.

At each of the cities and towns they visit, Jones said they are connecting with local charities to help support their efforts.

Locally, for instance, a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Brandon Prust Foundation, which helps kids experiencing pain through illness, long-term care and rehabilitation.

“This is such a unique and neat idea, and I really think people are going to the concept of it,” said Prust, a former London Knights fan favourite who spent about a decade playing in the NHL. “It’s just like any other big hockey tournament, but you’re  just not skating, you’re running.

“It brings back some childhood memories as well. That’s all I did growing up. You play ice hockey in the winter and then summer comes and you are out on the road with your whole street.”

For more information about the festival, you can visit its website at

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