Sunday, August 29, 2010


So here i am packing my bags frantically checking weather forecasts of the countries i will be visiting . Leaving in 3 days , the excitement is hardly enough to handle ! Last night i found out that i should have a winter jacket for my trip to Cortina D'Ampezzo from my soon to be Italian friend Luca . We added each other on facebook when we found out about each other through our mutual friend Rainer !

I will be meeting Rainer upon arrival to Frankfurt and we are heading over to Tachov, Czech Rep. immediately ( hopefully with a few beers in hand) . We will meet up with Luca towards the end of our adventures , apparently meeting the night before tournament in Cortina to go watch a pro hockey game there and have a night out on the town . Seriously i have no clue how i am going to pack my backpack ( which is not too big due to airline restrictions ) and my luggage is my hockey bag and stick bag !

Rainer and myself will be practising a few times in Tachov, Plzen, and Prague ( Czech Rep. ) watching Sparta Prague play a pro hockey game at some point along with a few other matches we will attend before driving back to Germany to catch our flight to Tampere,Finland. This is where i need to pack some swimming shorts for ( as we all know the Finns love their saunas and so do i !) not too sure what else is planned for Finland as we are not bringing our gear ( flying Ryanair) aside from saunas and booze we will be meeting Petri who will be our kind host ! Hopefully he will be joining us in Munich at some point to play on our hockey team ( Rainman Allstars )

After Finland we are flying back to Germany picking up our car ( little red ) and driving to Rainer's hometown of Aalen , where we will spend 2 days preparing the motor home for our 2 week adventure ! Now this is all speculation as Rainer is tight lipped and always full of surprises HAHAHA! We then head to Munich to meet Moosa (he is from Syria ) and Petri ( Finland ) going to watch Bayern Munich vs. Roma in Champions League match then off to Fussen for our first competitive tournament. Meeting there with the rest of our team and some old friends Timo, Andi and Rudi !

Still no clue what to pack ( shorts? or pants?) SHIT ! after that drunfest at Oktoberfest then down to Venice for a night or 2 to relax ....back into the mountains ( what -15C ) jeez i am not sure well i guess i will have to buy me some cheap clothes in the Czech ! all i know for sure is that i am bringing my laptop ....daily adventures to come !

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Trying to plan a trip

So yesterday i sat around online trying to make plans with my German friend Rainer ( Rainman ,Kackvogel ) ...i have a few stories to share about this guy :) but not now .....

Travelling to these tournaments is not so easy , firstly you get the invite and ponder it with almost always an immediate yes response. At this time DO NOT PURCHASE ticket to fly there ! These tourneys get cancelled by organizers all the time !!! This past year alone i had plans to fly to Hawaii and to England for these 2 really wicked tournaments , only to have my heart broken to pieces. Now now don't feel so bad for me as there are always tournaments if you know the right people .

So my last blog mentioned that i had 3 tourneys in 3 countries in 3 weeks...that blog was before my chat with the Rainman . NOW everything is up in the air leading up to this tournament in Fussen ( Germany ) right before Oktoberfest hehehehe.So heres the deal , my Czech tourney was cancelled unfortunately but we are still planning on going , if i can get an earlier flight . If i do get there earlier we have a great opportunity to go to Finland for some crazy party , yeah i know Finland !!! So glad i didn't book the flight months back, and trust me never do !

This one year i was about to book my flight to fly out to Dubai to play for the Malta Pirates again. Even some Toronto friends playing for Fluid Living Arseholes were about to go . For some crazy reason the tournament changed its dates! Now my Maltese friends already booked and basically ended up going just for holidays but i would assume that they were not too happy . On my end if i would have booked and flew out there to have the tournament changed...umm lets just say i would not be coming back .

Looks like i will probably work my magic and find a decent flight ( that won't charge me baggage GOALIE GRAY) ...i find Air Canada & Lufthansa are good at not charging for sporting equipment. Had a bad experience flying from Singapore to Bangkok with Swiss Air and will never fall for it again ( basically paid $100 US on a $75 flight ) . So what i am saying here is i will book my flight ,  i will have to search hard to find the right airport and the right date , and it's not gonna be easy . Monday is my magic day , then the real plans will be set in stone , or will they ?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Jakarta + ice hockey = no way

It was mentioned that while i was in Singapore i met a bunch of ex-pats living there , one of these guys is Matt Wheeler (Wheels) he is an American teaching out there in Asia hailing from the might hockey state of Minnesota ! It had been sometime since i heard anything from the guys in Singapore but i was craving another tourney, with glimpses of chances to play in Bangkok in October ( which never came to fruition) ....out of the blue Wheels contacts me telling me he is living in Jakarta and they are putting a team into Singapore tourney and they would love to have me play for them !!!

This is when my travelling begins to escalate and i begin to get a little more greedy wanting to see more countries rather than just visiting 1 on my instead of just flying out to Singapore to play and come home ( without my girlfriend) i figured i might as well go spend a week in Jakarta and hope to play there....just a small side note : my stick bag is basically my biggest trophy , i put a flag on it for every country i get to play ice hockey in . So i begin planning my trip .....

Time goes by and my plans are coming together and a certain somebody that i care for ( Kathleen) begins to get a little jealous that i am going away , so we begin to incorporate meeting up in Asia somewhere ( Vietnam,Cambodia were the early favs) as plans go we decide to meet in Thailand ! so obviously i begin to work on contacting the guys from the Bangkok Flying Farangs , of course plans are going perfect !

Finally it is time to fly out to Jakarta and boy am i nervous as firstly it is FAR and secondly i have to weasle my way to the front of the plane somehow to get off early to meet one my teammates driver at the airport to whisk me off for a practise !!! yes a practise right after getting off of a 28 hour flight , no dropping bags no hotel , straight to rink . So i played my cards was a good boy the whole flight and then i sprung the question to one of the stewardess' " umm believe it or not i am flying here to play hockey and i have to be at the arena and get off the plane as fast as i can " , she kinda gave me that look and somehow i proved to her that it was for real ....took some time but for that last hour i was in first class!

Now i can be a bit of a dumbass sometimes.....i got off the plane and to my amazement people were smoking right after coming out the tunnel so i fumbled around for that long awaited smoke ( yeah i smoke ) . I had known prior to getting on the plane that i had to purchase a Visa upon arrival for $10 US dollars , so i had my $10 US in hand and was aimlessly running around in an empty airport ....ran right by the empty Visa office , almost leaving airport before security told me that i missed the office!!!! so ran back , stood in the now long lineup and purchased Visa ...i mentioned i was meeting a driver ( Mike Duncan's driver) , everyone in Asia that i have met seem to be able to afford having house maids and personal drivers for something like $100 a month or something ridiculous like that ! i come dashing out of the airport and there i am looking for a sign with my name , and lucky for me i could not see one phone was also dead and i could not find somewhere to plug in to get ahold of someone. This was kinda hectic having a huge goalie bag a backpack and a stick bag to handle while 5 or 6 Indo dudes are all begging to help me for some reason...i am being very skeptical to these guys as it is PITCH BLACK outside the airport and here i am in a foreign country , thing going through my mind like yeah i am twice everyones size here but what if they have weapons , or what if i am being led to some dark alley were going through my mind .

Finally 1 of these guys talked me into walking outside the airport where there was actually a plug ....relief, but i still felt vulnerable to some attack ( in my mind). Charged the phone called the guys , i was going to miss practise. Somehow after i paid all of my indonesian entourage a grad total of $5 US dollars i bumped into my driver, and off to the rink we go !

Basically we pull up to the mall Taman Angrak ( help me with spelling if i am wrong ) and there is a bomb sweep of the vehicle of course ! i mean i am used to it over in Toronto ....Nope ! Hello what the heck is this for ...oh yeah i forgot about the extremists . Can't remember for the life of me what floor the rink is on , all i know is that it is near the food court . it was as foggy as foggy can be and it was beautiful ! i could not believe my eyes there is a rink in Jakarta !!!! i mean by our standards it was crap but it was usable ....the glass is not tempered so they can not even use real pucks ,odd but it works .

This is where i got to meet all the guys ( Matt Wheeler, Jusuf Hendrata, Stephane Houle,Mike Duncan , etc..) they were just getting off the ice when i arrived . And just like at every rink in Canada someone offered me a beer , AHHH!  I brought a ton of tape and blades and sticks for the guys ( which they paid for ) and was on my way to my hosts house .

I stayed with Matt and his family for the first weekend i was there as i did not want to impose . On the first day we went to the school that he teaches at , if i am correct he is the head of the athletics program at an english speaking school in Jakarta. There was a soccer ( football ) tournament for kids there that day and i joined him to check out the action. Like i said it was kids playing so it got a bit lame and Matt suggested i go out into the village around the school.Also mentioning that the locals would appreciate it even if i bought a can of pop .

So off i went out into the hood, now here i am in foreign country wandering around looking like a sore thumb basically in something i would consider a ghetto . Garbage is everywhere, cats running around that i would not dare to touch , jeez there were wild chickens on the dirt roads here! Okay its hotter than a fresh poo so i need me a drink , and here is something that somewhat resembles a store ...i see a fridge there has to be drinks in . Stepping up to the counter i send out a friendly hello as everyone is basically staring at me , i get someones undivided attention and ask for a Coke. Matt was right they were happy , and then offered me a straw from a box. Now there were plenty of straws in this box ,only problem was that they were all chewed on LOL! so here i am not trying to be rude......yeah i took one , didn't throw it amongst the other garbage , kinda kept it as a memento for a while until i found a garbage bin for the lovely gift :)
It was along day out in the sun and Matt and i retired to his place to watch some tv , and catch up with each other. Next day we got up and i met his lovely wife and daughter and we went into the hectic world of Jakarta malls !! Let me tell you there are a ton of malls in Jakarta and traffic is insanity there . While driving i was warned to keep windows and doors locked because apparently guys on motorcycles drive by and reach in and steal what they can . the roads are littered with beggers , some with babies in hand ( which apparently can be rented , yeah they rent babies to beg !) there are lines on the road but somehow you will find 5 cars and 4 motorcycles in 3 lanes . As we drive along we end up getting pulled over and let me tell you the system seems to work alot better there than going to court ( wink , wink ) all we had to do was pay the guy and off we went , now payment pends on how much he sees in your wallet so unfortunately we paid more than the regular corrupt officer would ask for LOL! we travelled to a bunch of malls looking for this and that and enjoyed a splendid lunch , very relaxed day ending at an internet cafe with Matt as internet connections seem to be painful over there to maintain .
I end my stay at Matt's with a hockey practise in Jakarta and check into my digs for the rest of my stay in this mighty city , Hotel Aryaduta . Which was a really close walk to the Monas Memorial . Back to the hockey so the dressing room is basically right there in the middle of the mall so i drop my drawers with eyes in the back of my head and begin to dress . Getting to meet some of my other teammates that will be joining us in Singapore ( Ryan Klue , and 1 of our Indo players Felix Cahyono ) this was the first time i had gotten the opportunity to play on a team with players from the native country that i was visiting ( i mean from countries that are not associated with ice hockey) so it was quite the treat . I also met some of the locals that were big on the game and strong supporters such as Tandri Sutanto .

We got on the ice and had a fun skate, weird as it was with this super light puck flying around and guys wearing jeans and tshirts as equipment but it was still HOCKEY ! This was the first practise for the Jakarta Corruption and a new team was born ....the team has since changed their name to the Jakarta Dragons as to not offend and of the Indo guys on the team :) . On this night we enjoyed playing hockey in the fog and then i was escorted to my hotel by Jusuf Hendrata ( small in stature but big in heart ) quick on the ice with good hands. We became good friends fast and he drove me to see a bit of the seedy parts of Jakarta , without leaving the car...well except to grab a 6 pack of Heinekens ! He took me over to my hotel had a beer and jetlag took over...zzzzzzz

Like i mentioned in older post , the hospitality is UNBELIEVABLE ....the next day i went to meet this crazy Quebecois hardcore Mr. Stephane Houle , now i don't have much to say about Habs fans but this guy is tops in my books ! This guy took me out and we went for a massage which cost a grand total of something like $4 , and NO this was not the happy ending kind of massage LOL...this was reflexology . I mentioned on line that my ankle was sore prior to flying out so he took me to get it worked on , of course we were pampered there with sauna cold shower on rocks etc... just spectacular. Our day continued with some shopping ( yeah i know i am a guy but this had to be done) where i bought a bunch of stuff for Kathleen and other friends i promised gifts too ! Now this is the cherry on top ....i mentioned this guy is a Habs fan , HE DOWNLOADED LEAFS GAME TO WATCH WITH ME !!!! yeah got to watch the Leafs , and drink a few brews ,penthouse apartment overlooking Jakarta ....Stephane your rock mon frere!
We ended our day with me jumping into a taxi to go meet Jusuf . well this gets interesting , he took me to a Karaoke bar , with mainly Indonesian music ( Chintaku ) yeah so here i am drinking and singing Indonesian music infront of a bunch of Indonesian friends ( what a hoot !) we drank a ton of wine and had one of the most memorable nights of my life ...unfortunately all the video footage of me singing was lost but someday i will have to go sing some more tracks with Jusuf ( Drift,Drift !!!!)

The next day we were back at the rink ,and as you can see above there were alot of people enjoying the pleasure skating there ( amazing ) . we got on the ice for the last time that day before heading out to Singapore to finally challenge other teams ! It was a light foggy skate as usual LOL , i went back to hotel that day and went on my own small trek to see the Monas Monument

Going to Jakarta was an experience that i would love to repeat some day . My first trip to Singapore was only hockey with not much else for excitement, honestly i would doubt that i would go there again unless i was visiting somewhere i have not skated like Kuala Lumpur or Manila ( both on my radar ) but Jakarta is definitely somewhere i would go and suggest to anyone to go to ! The people are great and there is alot of stuff to do chapter will be in Singapore where lets say i had alot more fun the second time around !

Day 2 as a blogger...

Hey there, so i just got up and i am reading the blogs i posted yesterday ...tons of spelling mistakes LOL! But i am also thinking there are so many things that i failed to mention... mainly names of most of the teammates i am still in touch with and i hope are all reading this with a smile :)

Everyone has to understand that without certain people in certain places there would be no hockey! Like in Malta hockey has pretty much died ....well there is a small resurgence as somebody has built an ice rink there with that synthetic ice. From what i hear it is crap and not very accessible but hey at least someone is trying . When i went to Dubai with the Pirates Coach Jan was very instrumental in keeping the game alive even without a rink....guys like Marcus, Kenny,Alex, Rodney, Simon all that live in Malta and so keen to play were even playing street hockey in a parking garage to stay in shape! i really have to mention that all the cool stuff we did in Dubai was totally paid for by our gracious coach Jan , and when we were back in Malta i will never forget the lovely dinner i enjoyed at his amazing condo ....thanks coach !

Also everyone has to understand that i am not the only one doing this ( travelling to play hockey ). These tournament are full of faces that i seem to see everywhere on certain continents . I met a fellow named Marko Nykanen sitting in the stands in Dubai , had a nice chat and he gave me his card. I like to make friends and tend to try to at least stay in touch ( if i like you ) so i tried to contact his email some time after meeting him and carrying his buisness card in my wallet . His email did not work , so obviously i thought eh i will never see this guy , oh well. So when i get to Singapore who do i see ...Marko Nykanen, i mean this guy is everywhere LOL. it is not just him there are so many faces i see at these tournaments, it is like an extended family /group of international buddies all sharing the love of the same game / and drinking copious amounts of alcohol :)

The other thing i would love to mention about all my experiences is the hospitality ! UNBELIEVABLE ! i don't want to get too far into it , but now that i am on the topic it is just fair to say that every team that has ever invited me to their countries to play has ALWAYS taken care of me beyone my expectations and i will always and forever be in debt to all of my hosts . There are so many tournaments on my list of places to go : mainly to be with people i have met before in different countries (its always an adventure when you are with 10-15 more crazed hockey players)

If anyone is ever interested in joining me overseas (from Toronto) let me know the moment i am flying out to Europe for 3 tournaments in 3 countries in 3 weeks ! but i have open invite to a 30+ tournament in Hawaii playing for a German team from Augsburg is in April.

check it out .....Happy Friday the 13th !

Thursday, August 12, 2010

From San Fran to Singapore

After my trip to Dubai i became an addict at looking for tournaments in foreign countries , i actually suggested to the Malta Pirates that i would find us some tournaments to play in ....and did i ever !!!! I contacted a fellow in Singapore named Greg Blakney and was trying to get the Malta Pirates to come with me . I have never really tried to get players from home ( Toronto) to come as it can be pricey so i have always just tried to stick with the guys that i know will go .....this does not always work .

The interest level in Malta was not too good and i was beginning to lose hope in getting a chance to play in Singapores International 4 on 4 i wrote to Greg Blakney in Singapore and let him know that it was not going to work and if there was any chance that any team needs a goalie to let me know ......eventually the home team was in need of a goalie and i received invite to go play for the Singapore Lions!

You see i have a girlfriend that is very caring and has no problems with me leaving to play in these tournaments but this one time we tried to make it a trip for both of us , so we went together . Planning on stopping in lovely San Francisco for the weekend prior to tournament !

so we began our travels , with hopes of nice dinners and hockey for me and shopping for her. San Fran held up its end on the dinners as we enjoyed a steak in a famous restaurant that was in the movie the Maltese Falcon ( for the life of me i can't remember the name) ,never got the chance to ride a trolley but saw many...visited Chinatown and the big bridges even though i got a pic with the wrong one LOL!

It was a great weekend but then plans did not go so well ....just a side note to anybody dating and travelling somewhere with their better halfs that do not enjoy the sport so much : DON'T DO IT ! we learned our lesson the hard way as the shopping part of our plans did not pan out so well, and the weather was not so helpful to our cause either. The biggest problem is that i am such a hockey addict and i love tournaments to bits so when i am at one i am at one ALL DAY LONG! beer in hand between games sharing stories with ex-pats from all over the world . So yeah my girlfriend saw me leave in the morning and come home late at night (after a few wobbly pops hehe) .So this travelling together for my tournaments will probably never happen again!

So back to my hockey travels, we arrive in Singapore and stayed right across the river from Brewerkz Brew Pub ( american menu, burgers and beer ) and Greg Blakney picked me up late at night to take me to the rink for our first game vs. Singapore Rusty Blades! You gotta know these guys are a group of older guys that basically drink EVERYONE under the table , pre game bottle goes around the room kinda thing !!! The Singapore Lions were basically the B team in Singapore with Eurostars having pick of crop and Rusty Blades being the life of the party . Kinda feel bad letting you all know that we pounded these guys 9-1 , but thems the breaks !

That night was an interesting evening for me as i had met a bunch of delegates from the IIHF that flew in to decide on Singapore's application for their national team . I ended up meeting the Director of Hockey for Team USA , he was in the same hotel . We went out for some drinks and ended up in some whacky afterours bar was whacky because it was men singing womens vocals or at least trying to all dressed up in drag ???? to this day i still have no clue ....all i know is everyone was drinking pitchers full of straight brandy which was weirder to me than the dudes in drag .

The next morning we had to play the Seoul Rocky Mountain Chiefs , where i met this fellow named Rene Boucher ( he was living in Seoul at the time ) . ended up meeting him on the bus from the hotel . this team was another fun team with names on their back like Tall Paul or Sexi Lexi ....we took them lightly and ended up losing . I am sure some of the better players on the team were dissappointed but we all knew we took them lightly and it was our fault. On this day our game was early and was our early game so i had the chance to finally acquaint myself with some of my teammates like Matt Wheeler, and Rob Speers and Jack Riggs not to mention my favorite drinking buddy from Finland Marko Ojala !!! That whole day meeting guys was not the best feeling seeing how we lost and how i was drinking uncontrollably thanks to the help of Markos pitcher tipping technique.

So here we go now i get to play against teams that i have actually heard of .....The Gulf Scorions (formerly Abu Dhabi) played in A division in Dubai , they had this amazing goalie named Michel Giguere ( yes he is related ,his brother) and this monster beast of a Russian named Roman Lebedev whom apparently was on the Russian National team at one point in his life. This man was overweight and out of shape but wow i was scared shitless of him when i got to meet him in the slot ....first one i must have been lucky as i only think he bruised my shoulder , yeah it was like bullets coming at me . you all might think that i got smoked but it was actually my swan song of the tournament . we lost 3-2 but i stood on my head! my teammates became suddenly more receptive . game vs. Bangkok Flying Farangs ....they have this nifty little stocky guy from Toronto name Joe Doan , let me tell ya this guy would be pro if he had the size ! Well the Farangs took advantage of the fact that we played our ass' off in the earlier game and we were gassed , losing 5-2.

If i haven't explained this tournament to you i will see there are 10 teams it is 4 on 4 hockey in this small rink in a mall called Jurong . top 4 play for A championship ( Singapore Cup) next 4 play for B championship ( Maple Leaf Cup) . with some crazy crossover game in between so we had a 1-3 record and had to play vs. Seoul again, this time nobody took them lightly and we whooped them 5-1 with no remorse , ending the day at 2-3 we get to next round vs . Qatar Qanucks !!!! yes the same team i lost to in Dubai Finals ....

I mentioned i was here with my girlfriend and she had to come meet me the next morning to finally watch a game , might as well come for the semi right ....wrong HAHAHA, she gets into a cab that day and asks driver to take her to Jurong , well there are 2 malls by that very same name on opposits sides of the city . To make things worse we end up showing up for our game vs. Qatar and they decide not to play us in protest of the fact that they never read rules for tournament and felt they should be playing in higher pool. For me this sucked big time as i wanted to exact my revenge on them , never got the chance but i can say my record is 1-1 against them with hopes of a future match ! After our pleasure skate i find Kathleen and we finally got to spend a bit of time together enjoying Pizza Hut ....overpriced Pizza Hut !

In the Maple Leaf Cup Final we faced the Bangkok Flying Farang Shadows ( Bangkok's B team) which i made a ton of friends from ....Nate , Rainer ( Rainman Allstars)

it was a hard fought final but we won !!!!

Celebrations were had starting at Brewerkz , which no offense but if you are not in the tournament and have to spend however much it was like i did for Kathleen then it is not worth it ....just a warning if you go in the future ! After Brewerkz most of us ended up at IndoChine which is a club there and the festivities ended up going on late into the night. I did not stay out late as i owed someone some of my time ( hehehehe) .

The next day was rainy AGAIN! and the both of us went on a river cruise and saw the Merlion and basically did whatever we could , but to be honest Singapore does not have much to do or at least on my account i never was really shown around . Playing for the Singapore Lions and winning the Maple Leaf Cup was and is an experience i will never forget . The tournament is all class at very well run and the connections i made there only led me into other tournament adventures !

So yeah we had to fly back through San Francisco and let me tell ya , travelling with a huge goalie bag and a huge stick bag through the USA is not the best idea if you are in a rush to get onto another plane ....because we had booked our flights separately we had to switch planes and clear customs and blah blah blah i get to the gate to check in for my flight back to Toronto and the woman at the gate starts questioning my baggage , yeah i got asked if i had weapons in my stick bag and if i was with the army and all these super crazy things , up until the point that i was asked to empty out my bag. HA i emptied out my bag , first thing i pull out and put on the desk MY JOCK !!!!! i get the um-err stumbled language jibberish and the woman leaves, my luck has it that we are in San Fran ( huge gay population) and this man was so nice enough to take the time to understand me and cuss her out under his breath LOL. Finally on the flight back to Toronto with obvious visions of my next trip .....could it be somewhere in Africa? or Europe ? hmmm lets wait and see!

photos from Dubai 2005

Dubai Mighty Camels International Tournament Scoreboard

Hatta Trek in the Desert
Can you tell who won ?
Malta Pirates vs. Qatar Qanucks
C division FINAL @ Dubai International 2005

Newspaper clipping from Maltese newspaper
Malta Pirates @ Wild Wahdi Water Park in Dubai

Where it all started....

So i was stuck in Amsterdam in 2004 and i was missing the game of hockey , so one day i got myself acquainted with the internet and started browsing.....googling anything and everything to do with hockey , then i began to wonder if there was any hockey over in my families home country of Malta and i googled it as a joke . To my surprise there was a Maltese Ice Hockey League and they had a team of all-stars that travelled yearly to Dubai to compete in their huge international tourney . I had to contact these guys.

I got in touch with a really nice guy named Jan Hallkvist who is a Swede living in Malta , he ran the travel team which was pretty much considered their national team . They had no clue who i was except for the fact that i was a CANADIAN GOALIE !!!  This bought me at least a tryout , which i had to fly out to Dubai for ...

On the way to Dubai i had to stop over in Malta with hopes of meeting my teammates and having time to get spoiled by my family ....if you ever go to Malta try the Pastizzi , devilish little pastry dough stuffed with ricotta cheese , or peas Malta i found out that their rink had been closed for almost a year and their league was no longer in existence ( totally a shame) . thoughts of teammates flopping around on the ice kinda put fear into me going into my first international tournament with no clue what level i would have to perform at ! Jan met me at the airport and filled me in on the situation surrounding the team and we rushed over to the Emirates office to book my flight ( i think they did not know if i was going to show hehehehe) my 3 days in Malta were filled with astonishment as family members were blown away at the reason why i was in Malta!

After those 3 amazing days in Malta i finally got to meet my teammates that were flying with me from Dubai to Malta. Immediately bonding with these guys as we got a bit loud and boisterous on our flight with the help of a few bottles of wine. Arriving in Dubai and going straight to duty free to get us some $16 cartons of cigarettes and CHEAP CHEAP booze ( no taxes at all in Dubai WOO HOO ) we all scattered and somehow all ended up in the same place at our team bus !Arriving at our hotel safely .

Day 1 in Dubai was basically my big tryout day...if i don't play well then Marcus Lindner plays goal . Right before getting to the arena we met up with our Finnish team mates that joined us , Ossi & Juha Uotila ( brothers) Juha was 19 i think at the time ( former Finnish National Jr. team member, eventually played D for the Toronto Marlies in 2008 season ) . we went to some mall first and ended up going for a pleasure skate before heading to the tournament was amazing to see people skating around in a mall for my first time ! some people in full arab dresscode , and with many levels of the mall above us with people watching down at us was pretty surreal too ! we finally get to the rink Al-Nasr Leisureland and get to our err-change room/banquet hall and promptly set our gear up front and centre on stage ! I must have had an angel with me as i stopped everything and everyone and was immediately asked to play for the Malta Pirates in the upcoming tourney.

Day 2 the tournament starts and we are playing against teams from all over the middle east with clubs from Dubai , Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia ! can't forget the Swiss team that was there Yellowstone , those guys could drink LOL! That day we played a team from Dhahran and beat them pretty badly in our first game and then played a team called Ghantoot , all i know is these guys showed up in Jeeps all done up with team logos on all their vehicles and apparently had paid the Sebian International team coach ( Marko) and one of his players to play for them.Marko also played out , and was he ever one dirtyl little bastard ....not ever 10 min into the game he figured out Juha was our best player and targeted him with a dirty hit. Did not work and he began to spazz out only to get ejected for remainder of tournament! Coach Jan was happy as they did not seem to see eye to eye even after the game ....we went on to paste Ghantoot something like 8-1 ....HAHAHA. after our games we ended up going to Wild Wahdi Water Park and had a great time relaxing and bonding ( drinking)

Day 3 comes along and we are playing in C division in this tournament, and other teams and tournament organizers are beginning to whine that we are too good to be in C ....We have a game vs. Dubai Bruins and end up losing partially due to all of our bonding (drinking ) the night prior. This is not a joke, the organizers approach us and whine about us throwing the game our amazement we just chuckle and keep on our own way onto the quarter finals where we played the Kuwait Mooseheads , alcohol was an afterthought and we go back to pasting our opponents , with a semifinal in the morning and it being our coaches birthday we obviously had to go out for dinner and drinks. funny thing about going out for drinks at Dubai night clubs: they tend to not let in 10 big hockey players to drink alot of booze without the guidance of at least 2 women per person ????? not going to mention which players did this but some of the patrons enjoying dinner got to see some european ass running by and skinny dipping right in the water there LOL! to this day i still think the security were more afraid of us then we were of them ......happy hangover guys !

Yup it is Day 4 , wake up with slight hangover and a chuckle ....go to rink to play Dubai Bruins in Semifinal (the rematch) now this team was made up of father and son combinations and they were not bad at all , gave us quite the scare in the second period where i had to make a diving save with the paddle of my stick to preserve a 2-1 lead , eventually going on to play in the Final vs. Qatar this is one game that stuck in my head for a LOOOONNNGGG TIME . Qatar was the division defending champs beating Malta the year before , so most of the guys returning were keen for this match. They had this stellar goalie and the game went back and forth eventually ending up tied 2-2 going into overtime......well with about 1 min left in OT one of their guys came screaming down the wing and pounded a hard slapshot just above the faceoff circle which just barely squeezed under my blocker side arm .....the arena erupted as most of the teams are from the mid east and definitely cheer for their own :( .....i remember being too pissed off to go to the Cyclone bar ( apparently some kind of huge whore house / with a bar ) right next to the rink , it is closed now so i doubt i will ever get to experience it but from what i hear it is a laugh !

We stayed in Dubai for 2 more days after the tournament ,mainly somber , but we did end up having an amazing time on the Hatta Trek in the desert on some 4 wheeling on the dunes , sandboarding , and smoking some lovely tobacco in a Huka in the middle of the desert complimented with a nice traditional BBQ under the stars with some lovely ladies belly dancing !

After Dubai i continued on my way to Malta for 3 more weeks of sun & fun with carnivals and small wineries on my list of attracting adventures . The Maltese media were quite receptive of our achievements in Dubai and had a few writeups on us in their newspapers....(can't find the clipping now but will post it in future ! ) . This is how my addiction to travelling the world to play hockey began , the day i got back to Toronto i began researching my next tournament trip .......Singapore.