Playing like Pros
This gave many young kids the chance to play hockey on the same ice that their heroes play on. As a bonus, they also got to hear a really loud goal horn go off when they got a goal. The only thing missing was the media asking them if they gave it 110%, but fingers crossed, they'll experience that eventually.
The day consisted of what one would expect from a weekend filled with hockey:
- Lots of spills and tumbles. At one point the trainer had to run out on the ice several times to make sure the kids were okay, but they toughed it out like the gritty hockey players they are.
- In a scene right out of the Mighty Ducks, the Vernon Tim Hortons Steelers, dressed in all black looking like Team Iceland from the Disney movie, held a large lead over a rag tag group of players from the Mission Mind Craft. Alas, there were no knucklepucks shot in this game, but despite the lopsided score, both sides were all smiles after the game. It's refreshing to see sportsmanship shine through in moments like these.
- It should be noted that the Steelers goalie managed to keep himself entertained by doing squats, practicing puck handling with an imaginary puck, and occasionally lying down on the ice, all while his team kept the puck on the other end of the ice. You have to keep warm somehow!
- There was lots of family and friend support from the stands. One amusing moment occurred when one of the children was being interviewed after the game by the in house Canucks host. The child was asked if he had anyone he wanted to say hi to in the stands, and a little girl jumped up screaming "Say Kendra, say Kendra, say Kendraaaaa!" The little boy chose to thank his mother, much to the chagrin of Kendra.
- One team gutted out a close 2-1 victory, full of tight checking, and hard work along the boards. Torts would have been proud!
- One child rode his stick like a pony after he scored a goal. In hockey, sometimes you learn to celebrate in grand fashion first, then skate second.
Aside from the usual antics you find at minor hockey, there was also a neat story that emerged about two potential future NHL superstars hailing from…New Zealand and South Korea? Yes, you read that right.
Hot on the heels of the 2014 Olympics, hockey is proving to indeed be a global sport. Marvin Lim, from New Zealand and Seungbin (SB) Yoo, of South Korea, can attest to this, as they both managed to end up playing hockey in Canada for the Chilliwack C3 Bruins.
Marvin Lim (pictured in middle between Hunter Tiverson and Brenden Toriumi)
Favorite Player - Teemu Selanne
Who he compares his play style to: Teemu Selanne
At first glance it might seem odd for a New Zealander to get into hockey, especially since, as Marvin explains it, there are few opportunities to play over there. "There are probably about five rinks in the whole country, so maybe four teams per rink." Marvin, with his New Zealand accent on full display, explained that he doesn't remember how he got into hockey, but he reckons it had a lot to do with a certain movie. "It kind of started with the Mighty Ducks movie, then started with inline hockey," he laughed. Marvin ultimately ended up heading to Canada to play hockey as a cost saving measure if you can believe it. "We had to fly to the south island to play another rep team. The petrol was over $200 a week to go to Auckland, so it would ultimately be cheaper to come to Canada for a season."
Of course, the question you have to ask all kids is "What's your favorite team", which I presented to Marvin. This is where things got weird. The coaches began chuckling nervously, Marvin seemed to hesitate, and his teammates laughed by the door..."It doesn't have to be Vancouver" I encouraged. Marvin relaxed and spoke. "Probably the Bruins."
The Bruins? The Bruins?? THE BRUINS??
"Or the Ducks" Marvin hastily suggested. At least Marvin is a quick learner in how to please your hometown market.
Seungbin (SB) Yoo (pictured)
Favorite Player - PK Subban
Who he compares his play style to: A power forward
Seungbin hails from South Korea, and much like Marvin, his interest in hockey came from the screen. "Just watching TV." His favorite team? Once again, it wasn't the Canucks, it was yet again another Eastern team. "Montreal Canadiens." Okay, that we can accept, at least it wasn't the Bruins. When asked about what kind of player he was, after several moments of hesitation, his coach suggested he was a power forward. "Okay, sure." responded Yoo, almost sheepishly.
While Yoo was a young man of few words, the one thing that was spoken loud and clear was the love of hockey from not just Yoo and Lim, but all of the young players who got to play on Rogers Arena ice. It's easy to forget when watching the NHL that the basic love of hockey was what once drove all of the NHL superstars. Forget the money, forget the fame, it is often overlooked that every hockey player at one point in their lives was driven by the simple love of the sport and all the excitement and camaraderie that goes with it.
One moment that captured the excitement that was on full display all day long, was when a group of kids walked down the tunnel and saw the ice in person from the ground level for the very first time. "This is SO awesome!" one exclaimed. "I have to get a picture!" said another. "I can't wait to play out there, I'm never going to forget this day" said the last. Kind of makes you want to grab a stick and head out onto the ice with them.
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