There are few things more memorable in hockey than the opportunity to travel, explore, and play in an international country.
This past holiday season the North York Knights Peewee “A” and Ted Reeve Thunder Minor Bantam “AA” organizations took their talents to Europe for a once in a lifetime hockey experience.
Coach of Ted Reeve Thunder, James Madge, asked his son, William, to describe the trip in one word.
“Amazing,” William said without missing a beat.
The Thunder’s jam-packed itinerary included city tours of Krakow, Brno, Prague, and Munich, two Canadian World Junior games, and a sobering tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Additionally, they became the first Canadian team to play a hockey game in Bohumin, Czech Republic.
“You had no idea how good the teams were, so you played your hardest,” explained William. “The arenas were so different. Simply because they were bigger, they had a different feel to them.”
The team’s play on the ice lived up to the electric atmosphere in the arena. The Thunder will look to carry that intensity over to their remaining games back in Toronto.
Not to be outmatched, the Knights had an unforgettable trip of their own, landing in Stockholm and getting the full Scandinavian experience. The team participated in a tournament in Finland, where they took home bronze. The Knights attended a KHL game in hopes to pick up a few tips and tricks from the pros. On New Year’s Eve, the team decided to ring in the new decade with style by hopping on a cruise.
Despite all the amazing excursions, sometimes it’s the moments off the ice that become so special. Both teams referred to the bus trips, meals together, and simply spending quality time as true bonding experiences that will not be soon forgotten.
Coach Madge summed it up best.
“In the end, they don’t remember the wins and losses, they remember the stuff like this.”
The Knights and Thunder are now back on home soil, competing hard heading into playoffs.