The Victoria Grizzlies Junior Hockey team has partnered with Legacy Global Sports to send both a Bantam and an Atom team from Victoria on a hockey tour through Iceland, Sweden and Finland. The Jr. Grizzlies teams are set to fly into Iceland on August 7th to practice and see the sights before their games in Sweden and Finland. The two teams have raised over $35,000 combined and will travel side by side for ten days as there are 5 families with siblings playing on both teams.
Rival hockey players from Sooke, West Shore area and Saanich have come together to form the two teams and have bonded this winter and spring while raising funds to make their hockey dreams a reality. To reduce the tour costs the players and families have hosted a two-day car wash, bottle drives, silent auction pub nights and also raised money through the 50/50 during the Victoria Grizzlies playoff run and an online raffle through Legacy Global Sports.
Each player’s efforts were rewarded directly and shared only among the players who participated in each event and they personally raised anywhere from $80 to $3500 each. At least 20% of the players raised enough to cover the entire cost of their tour.
"This will be an amazing experience and I'll get to meet kids from the other side of the world that love the same game as me. I'll get to see a new place, play hockey in different arena's and make new friends," said Kodi Pavesic who will be playing for the Jr. Grizzlies Bantam team.
Most all of the thirty-one players participated in at least one of the optional group fundraising events and many of them also received personal sponsorship money and held their own fundraisers such as garage and coffee sales to help with their personal tour fees. Some players also used their money earned by shoveling driveways this past winter and from reffing minor hockey to pay for the tour.
Most of the players will travel with parents and/or grandparents but a few of the Bantam players will travel solo and have been paired with another family who will act as their chaperone. The Victoria Grizzlies Head Coach and GM, Craig Didmon, along with Grizzlies VP of Hockey Operations, Lee Richardson, will coach the teams. Coach Didmon has previously traveled with a Midget team on a similar tour and found the experience to be richly rewarding for the players and families alike.
“The Midget players took great pride in representing Canada and really came together as a team pulling for each other. As individuals, they learned more about the team game and became better hockey players because of it. I expect the same style of camaraderie, fun, and memorable hockey experience to occur with these two groups,” said Didmon
While in Iceland, Sweden and Finland the families will travel around via luxury motor coach plus will get to take an overnight cruise between Helsinki and Stockholm. The families will enjoy many group meals together plus sightseeing tours. The teams will get to practice with a guest European skills instructor and also compete in fun exhibition games against Swedish and Finnish teams.
“The games are very competitive and are played with a lot of emotion, however when the games are over the players get to meet their opponents and will have opportunities to dine and socialize with them and trade jerseys. It really is a once in a lifetime experience” added Didmon.