By Lonny Lovins
The majority of our hard work ended last night. As the dust settled from set up, we got a good meal in us, a meeting out of the way, some shut eye, and BOOM, just like that, the tournament is upon us. The rink is bustling with kids on skates, parents with bags, and music blaring from every angle. The sponsor area looks amazing. All of the vendors have brought a great deal to show off, and with the booths and the banners, this is already shaping up to be a great show. We have the big screen running with some highlights of previous year’s finals. Even I am getting caught up in the video a little bit each time as I walk by.
Not to be outdone by the show in the vendor area, the kids got off to a flying start, as the games have been fast and fun to watch. If this is any indication of how the tournament is going to be, we are in for a treat. We are only a few games in, but the air is electric, people are excited, and the feeling is contagious. I am lucky I get to watch so much hockey while I am on these trips, but sometimes moving from rink to rink, I don’t get to see as much of a game as I would like. However, on the flip side of the coin, I get to see a ton of different teams play that I normally would never see. For instance, I have already seen two newcomers, for me anyway, from Namibia and the Cayman Islands. It is pretty neat to see teams travelling from so far away to be a part of this. It bums me out a little that more of my brethren from California aren’t making the trip, but I am sure most of them wish they could be here.
For those of you who have not been to Toronto, or the arena in Mississauga, it is something I would recommend to everyone. The sports complex itself is gigantic and spread over a large area. If I could venture a guess, I would say the entire complex spans 5 or 6 city blocks. The area we are using is generally a 4 sheet ice facility, with 3 regular sheets off the side of the full arena that is home to the Jr A. Mississauga Steelheads. If I heard correctly, I think it holds around 8000 people at capacity. I can almost imagine being a 12 year old version of myself playing in a rink of that size. It takes me back, and makes me even more excited for the kids and adults who are going to get to play on this surface.
Mississauga may be an outlying area of Toronto, but it is very metropolitan in its own right. They have a great city center area that contains everything you need for a good vacation. Good food, good night life, and great family attractions. So far I am very impressed, and I have only been here a short time. It is definitely some place I could see myself visiting with the family when I have a chance.
As always, I will keep you posted as we roll through the tournament.