Thursday, January 9, 2014

World Junior Hockey Championships a Huge Success !!! Part 1

Ok so Team Canada did not bring home the gold, or I guess for that matter they did not bring back any medal. I am sure the burn of defeat is still extremely fresh in everyone’s mind as well, but truth be told, the outcome of the tournament was of little consequence to me.

Going into this tournament I did not expect huge things from Team Canada, they were young and inexperienced and if I am not mistaken were projected to finish 4th when all was said and done anyway.

None the less, let me take this a step back for a second.

Like most of you reading this, I consider myself a pretty big hockey fan. I play twice a week, read 100 blogs a week and I have the privilege of watching a good seven to eight NHL games a year live. I have had the privilege of watching NHL games live in Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, New York, New Jersey, Dallas, Detroit, Boston, Florida, Tampa Bay and will this year be watching games in Toronto, Anaheim, LA and San Jose.

I have had the luxury to see quite a few playoff games and have even seen a game in the Stanley Cup Finals. I have seen games in the World Cup, heck I am old enough to remember when Gary Suter cross checked Wayne Gretzky in the Canada Cup, but despite all of this, I have never had the privilege of watching a Team Canada game in the World Junior Hockey Championships (WJHC), well… until now.

You see, thanks to my crazily supportive parents watching my kids for a week and thanks to my amazing wife, I got to spend a week of my Christmas break in between the cities of Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden.

With our passports in hand and two simple backpacks as the only luggage, my wife and I headed to the Montreal airport. We did not book a hotel, we had no Danish or Swedish currency, heck we had no idea where we were even going. All we knew is that our final destination was Malmö for what promised to be an amazing experience.

For starters, let’s just say that the service provided on Air Canada was absolutely superb. I have taken my share of flights to and from Europe, but the service of this crew was A-1. Perhaps this had to do with the fact that the wife and I flew First Class, but that my friends is nothing but a minor detail.

Not to tout my own horn, but travelling with my wife and I is an amazing experience. We are not the type of people to stay on a resort, or stick to ourselves in touristy parts of a city. We are the type of people who embrace new cultures, love to meet new people and who have the most vivid of memories from the people we encounter along the way.

Not to go off track, but one day you absolutely must ask me about our trip to Barbados and our experience at Judy’s Watering Hole where we shared stories for hours over a few bottles of Mount Gay Rum with the Rum Ambassador, Chesterfield Browne.

With that said, Copenhagen was a very beautiful city. The people are inviting, for the most part speak perfect English and from what we experienced, seem to go out of their way to ensure your visit was a pleasant one.

Then there was the beauty of places like Vivoli, (the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world), or the Little Mermaid Statue or the Rosenborg Castle or of course a stop at the Carlsberg Brewery, but in all truthfulness I found it difficult to enjoy the city knowing very well that my sole reason for being there was a simple half hour minutes train ride across the sea.

So after a short couple of days in Copenhagen, my wife and I jumped on a train, destination, Malmö.

The train ride, although short and sweet was arguably the highlight of our stint in Denmark. It was there that we befriended a young Danish man and his British girlfriend who were headed to Gothenburg, Sweden to join up for New Years with some friends.

Not to bore you with the details, but we started off as strangers and in just a short time became friends to the point where my wife and I were offered sandwiches, Danish Snacks, drinks, chocolates and of course the use of his Mac book to book our hotel in Sweden as we shared stories of travel, Denmark, England, Canada and of course my love of hockey.

We said our goodbyes to our new found friends, jumped off the train and landed at the Hylle train station at the Southernmost part of Malmö. Not knowing where we needed to get off or where we needed to go, we casually made our way from the landing platform following the hundreds of people wearing a Team Canada Jersey.

If we were not in the right place then surely we would be lost with some fellow compatriots. But alas, we knew we had arrived, because right in front of my eyes was this enormous edifice, the Malmö Arena.

Part II to follow.


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