Some Vancouver Island Canuck fans weren’t about to miss a moment of training camp, and some got up early to get a glimpse of their hockey heroes on Thursday.
“The deal was, if they got up early we could come today,” laughed Brayleen Usipuik, who made the trip to the South Island with her two sons. “We were up at 4:30 so we came from Nanaimo and here we are.”
Oldest son Carter came in a jersey, with a homemade tape job on the back. When asked who is favourite player is, the answer was easy.
“Andrei Kuzmenko,” he said, with Kuzmenko’s number 96 displayed proudly in white hockey tape on the back of his blue Canuck Jersey.
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There were several groups of students from schools in Greater Victoria at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena, many displaying homemade signs hoping to catch the eye, and the autograph, of their favourite players.
Ziggy Pelkey was rinkside for the first morning session, which featured a group of players including Elias Pettersson, Thatcher Demko, and Kuzmenko.
Pelkey brought a hand-drawn sign of a Canucks logo and hoped to get it signed by new Canucks captain Quinn Hughes.
“I’m a bit of a super fan,” said Pelkey, who plans on attending Friday’s session as well.
Training camp continues on Friday and through the weekend, with the intra-squad scrimmage happening Saturday. That session is sold out.
Pettersson was in Victoria for training camp in 2019 and is happy to be back.
“I was here my second season,” said Pettersson, who is entering the final year of his current contract. “I’m excited to be back. I guess we have some Canuck fans out here as well, so it’s good, it’s fun.”
And while the rink was full of hockey parents, Mike Irwin’s situation is special. Son Matt Irwin grew up in Brentwood Bay and signed with the Canucks this off-season. It marks the first time seeing him in Canucks colours.
“This is the unveiling,” he said.
Tickets for any available sessions can be purchased for $5 with all proceeds going to the Moose Hide Campaign.