Young athletes from across the Kootenays will embark on an international adventure this winter.
In December, the U14 Men’s Cranbrook Bucks hockey team will compete alongside 38 other teams from around the world at the Göteborg Ishockey Cup in Göteborg, Sweden. Although the team is based in Cranbrook, many of its players come from Fernie, Invermere and Kimberley.
The team could face-off against other Canadian teams, and teams from Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, the U.K, the U.S and the Scandinavian countries.
“It will definitely be the first opportunity for most of these kids to play international hockey on international ice against kids from other countries and really give them the opportunity to see where they stack-up and where their skill level is and also go have some fun,” said coach Colin Sinclair, who applied for the team to take part in the tournament.
The 17-person team will get chance to compete at a high level and test their abilities.
“There’s definitely lots of opportunities for kids to go overseas, however, the one thing that makes this unique is that the world junior tournament is at the same time. We decided it would be great opportunity for the kids to not only play overseas against all these different countries, but to also have an experience where they can watch the world juniors at the same time,” explained Sinclair.
The players are in the process of raising funds for the trip. They plan to host a car wash and barbeque in Cranbrook during Spirit of the Rockies Festival. They will also volunteer at the Wasa Lake Triathlon on June 10 and 11.
They have reached out to businesses across the Kootenays asking them to sponsor their jerseys.
Fernie Fox Hotel co-owner Marina Pauw, who sponsored three jerseys for one of the players, said it is important to support local sports and help youth achieve success.
“We believe in the development of youth sports and the positive impact it has on their physical and mental well-being. We recognize the hard work and dedication put in by the athletes, coaches and parents to make this tournament a success,” she said.
Dustin Auger, father of team member Zachary Auger, remembers how excited they were when they got the phone call that the team would be competing overseas.
“This is definitely a unique opportunity. He’s been involved in some higher-level development hockey throughout his younger years, but to do something like this is next-level,” he said.
“He worked hard learning under the coaching staff. I’ve seen his game actually pick up and he developed quite a bit. These boys worked really well together and pushed each other.”
Auger will be accompanying the team to the cup to help cheer them on.
Krista Hanson, mother of team member Dryden Hanson, stated in a press release, that Dryden is thrilled to be going.
Zachary and Dryden were members of the U13 team this past season and they will be advancing to U14 in the fall.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Dryden and his teammates to compete in an international tournament. Dryden is incredibly grateful and excited,” said Hanson.