Travelling halfway around the world to play 29 games of hockey in 16 days is no easy feat while also battling constant time changes, yet for up-and-coming stars Noah Hackett and Jared Rice it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
Hackett and Rice were part of a handpicked Canadian hockey team on an international hockey tour with several other boys born in 2001.
Rice says the hardest part of the experience was just getting used to the time changes.
When the boys left Canada it was daytime. They landed in Munich, Germany, immediately rode a bus for two hours to Füssen, Germany then played three games.
The team, led by director Peter Lameir, also played two games that day and another two the day after that. It was a tournament consisting of mainly older teams, and Rice and Hackett’s team placed third of seven.
“They had a rough go round that first tournament by the time they adjusted. Some of them looked asleep on their skates,” said Ken Hackett, Noah’s father.
However, neither Rice nor Hackett regret losing hours of sleep and, due to time changes and the change to daylight savings time, complete days out of their lives.
“I like hockey. Playing all those games was a good experience,” said Hackett.
For Rice, being able to play against teams from different countries was the best part.
Both boys said it took some time getting used to the different style of play the European teams have.
Rice says the rules are different and there’s less hitting.
Hackett learned a new style of boarding penalties. If another player was away from the boards and he was checked into them a penalty was called, which doesn’t always occur in Canada.
“They reffed Canada pretty hard over there,” said Cam Rice, Jared’s father.
The boys played two tournaments in Italy. In Vipatino they won gold. “It was cool to go to Europe for the first time and to win first at one of the tournaments,” said Hackett.
In Bolzano, Italy, the Canadian team placed fourth out of 40 teams. “It was incredible — opening ceremonies — it was like 40 teams on one ice surface,” said Mr. Rice.
Rice didn’t find playing in a tournament with that many teams any more intimidating than a regular one.
He and the rest of his team played only seven or eight games.
“We were just playing a normal hockey game,” Rice explained.
Hackett however, was nervous about the extravagant tournament. He knew with that many teams there; there was a higher chance of playing more skilled teams. “It was intimidating.”
“Some of them were really hard and we couldn’t beat them and others were our level and we had a good game,” he added.
In Most, Czech Republic, the boys also fourth out of 22 teams while playing in the Easter Cup.
Hackett and Rice also got the chance to play in the Olympic arena in Innsbruck, Austria and beat a Russian team 20-0. “They were a bad team, everybody wasn’t the best. They were really angry,” said Rice.
One morning the team woke up in Italy, drove through part of Germany, played in Austria and slept in the Czech Republic. “Most people don’t get to do that,” said Mr. Rice.
The boys also found that, being Canadian, players from other teams were eager to trade gear and coins with them.
During the Easter Cup a German player wanted to trade with Rice. “He just asked me ‘Do you want to trade my socks.’”
“It was really cool. I didn’t know people wanted so much Canadian stuff,” said Hackett.
Mr. Rice said other players were excited to be able to meet the Canadian boys. “Teams that would play us played their guts out to try and beat us and would watch our games and cheer for us.”
During their trip the boys also visited some of the top pasta and pizza eateries in the world, castles and the church Lameir sang in as a choirboy. “It was cool to know he was a Catholic person and served like I do,” said Hackett.
Hackett was also made captain of the team; the first time he’s ever been a captain.