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Friendship is the name of the game for Cambridge Ice Hounds this weekend

The Ice Hounds annual Friendship Festival is happening on Saturday at Galt Arena Gardens
The Cambridge Ice Hounds will host teams from Hamilton, Niagara and Rochester, NY for its annual Friendship Festival on Saturday.

Winning and losing isn't always the be-all and end-all it's made out to be in the world of sports.

Often times far greater lessons can be learned regardless of what the scoreboard says when the game is over.

No team knows that better than the Cambridge Ice Hounds and they'll be putting it into practice on Saturday at their annual Friendship Festival at Galt Arena Gardens.

The Ice Hounds will be welcoming other special hockey teams from Hamilton, Niagara and Rochester, NY for a full schedule of games and social interactions.

"The Cambridge Ice Hounds' Friendship Festival exemplifies the transformative power of sports, particularly within the adaptive hockey community," Cam Linwood, head coach of the Ice Hounds, said.

"Beyond the excitement of a day on the ice, events like these foster a sense of camaraderie and belonging among athletes who can face barriers to participation."

Linwood's team is divided into two and each plays a pair of games throughout the day. There is also a Young Stars Showcase and an A-level friendly game at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.

A hospitality room is going to be set up upstairs in the viewers lounge of the arena with snacks, along with a raffle prize table in support of the program.

City staff will be on hand gathering information on accessibility for its Parks Master Plan. Those in attendance can provide input on accessible playgrounds, best practices, positive examples from other municipalities and amenities they'd like to see.

Every year, Linwood is excited to witness the growth and social connections made by the athletes through friendly competition.

"The festival goes beyond the realm of sport, offering a platform for growth, friendship and celebration," he said.

"An event like this creates a sense of community and acceptance, forging bonds that extend far beyond the rink. Through teamwork and perseverance, athletes learn invaluable life skills, building confidence and resilience in an exciting and rewarding day on the ice."

He hopes the impact extends into the community to serve as a path to acceptance and support.

"By embracing diversity and championing inclusion, we hope this helps foster empathy in the sports environment, understanding and mutual respect," Linwood said.

"As spectators come together to cheer on these remarkable athletes, barriers are broken down, stereotypes are challenged and new friendships are forged, leaving a lasting legacy of unity, understanding and inspiration."

The festival begins at 9 a.m., with the final game starting at 4 p.m.