Three Comox Valley boys – Caleb Dolman, Logan Nijhoff and Matthias Smith – had the fantastic opportunity of playing hockey in Europe during their school spring break.
A year-and-a-half ago, the boys were scouted at a tournament in Victoria where they were playing with their local rep hockey teams. Caleb was scouted for the 1999 team and Logan and Matthias for the 2001 team. The boys were invited to try-outs held near Edmonton in August 2012 and were thrilled to be invited to play with these two touring teams this spring.
Players on the two Canadian AAA Explorers teams, coached by Peter Lumir of Bashaw, Alta., came from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.
The two teams played more than 25 games each in five different countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic. The boys (and their parents) had a fabulous time and have lots of great experiences to remember for years to come.
The boys enjoyed touring a UNESCO-protected village in the Czech Republic as well as the capital city of Prague. Castles were a big hit throughout their travels and the boys marvelled at how many castles there are in the countries they visited.
They played in a tournament in Füssen, Germany where the local people complained about the coldest and snowiest early spring there in 110 years. The boys had a fantastic time playing hockey in spite of the cold weather (but they loved the warm days in Italy, too).
A special tradition that the boys enjoyed were the opening and closing ceremonies of the tournaments where players from the many different countries gathered on the ice and talked to each other and exchanged gifts (pins, flags, even team jerseys at the last game). Caleb said that the highlight of the trip for him was the opportunity to represent Canada and proudly wear the Maple Leaf on his jersey. He was able to meet other boys from all over the world, who may not have spoken the same language, but were brought together by the game they love.
All of the boys enjoyed having the chance to play against and to talk with players from other countries; they also enjoyed having their pictures taken together at the end of each game. Logan and Matthias travelled on the same bus with the 2001 team and they really enjoyed meeting players from other countries and making some awesome new Canadian hockey friends. Their tournament win in Vipiteno, Italy was another highlight for these young players.
It was the trip of a lifetime featuring some great hockey, wonderful cultural experiences and terrific new friendships that these boys will never forget.