There are tournament trips, and then there are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and the Victoria Admirals U13 Tier team is going big.
In January, they’re bound for Shenyang, China to take part in an international tournament.
“I was approached by an agent from Ottawa,” says skills coach Brandon Wong. “He said they were looking for a Canadian team to go over and play.”
Wong played professionally in Russia and China and says it’s tough to understand what life is like in a major Asian city unless you see it firsthand.
“I don’t think they have any idea because I didn’t myself,” he laughs. “It’s hard to explain, with the population, just so many people and it’s busy all the time.”
Brandon Feng is the Admirals’ goalie. He was born in China and speaks fluent Mandarin, but admits that some of the current hockey slang gets lost in translation.
“It’s kinda hard to translate because in China most people don’t know what hockey is,” he says.
The tournament features an international field including teams from Russia, Belarus, and South Korea and organizers were keen to fill one of the slots with a Canadian team. As a result, the team has been given free accommodation and meals, and some money toward airfare, but they’re seeking local sponsorship to bridge the final fundraising gap.
They’re also playing the role of hockey ambassadors and will be visiting arenas in Shenyang to skate with local teams as part of a “Give Back” program.
A bit of culture shock is to be expected, but their Chinese hosts should be ready for a blast of Canadian hockey culture.
“I don’t know how often they get mini sticks in their hotels,” laughs Wong.