Alberni Valley hosts two international hockey games this week


WATCH: Hockey fans in Port Alberni are excited to be hosting two games in the city featuring international teams. Tonight, Kazakhstan’s team will play the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and it’s the only game between a BC Hockey League team and an international team. Kendall Hanson reports.

It’s a taste of international hockey that doesn’t come often to Vancouver Island, much less Port Alberni.

This morning Kazakhstan’s team practiced at a high tempo much to the delight of those watching.

“Very great that they’re here,” said Judy Collins, a Bulldogs Season Ticket holder. “We’re actually honoured that they’re here.”

A Grade 8 class is among those taking it in.

“I think they’re enjoying it,” said Russell Bodnar, their teacher. “A lot of them are kind of transfixed on it and it’s good to see a different level of competition that they’re not used to.”

The Bulldogs organization says it’s a real coup to be hosting Kazakhstan for two games this week. The Bulldogs are the only BCHL team to be playing one of the international teams. It’s a matchup they were working on getting for close to a year.

“I think it’s great for the whole organization. I think it’s great for the community,” said Ron Paulson, who just retired from the Bulldogs board. “It gives some spotlight to the community. It gives some spotlight to the BCHL. It gives some spotlight to the Bulldogs.”

Hockey Canada says they love seeing games hosted in cities like Port Alberni.

“We definitely notice the passion and the commitment that small towns have with hockey,” said Spencer Brennan of Hockey Canada. “We are extremely proud and honoured when we’re allowed to come to communities like this and showcase the community and the game of hockey to everyone across Canada.”

Just one Kazakhstani player speaks English and he says he loves the Alberni Valley and he loves this tournament.

“It’s my second world championship and it’s an elite group and I want to play all the teams and I want to play against Canada,” said Demid Yeremeyev, a Kazakhstani player.

On Friday, Alberni will host a game between Kazakhstan and Switzerland. Both games are expected to sell out as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Alberni Valley fans and players alike.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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