Day One - Monday February 7th
After a long day of travel, our team has finally made it to Duisburg, Germany. With little sleep under our belts, we headed to the rink to drop off our equipment. We were in for quite a surprise when we first set eyes on the ice - it's huge - wider than many rinks are long! After visiting the rink, we headed to the hotel to check in, have lunch and enjoy a couple of much needed nap hours. The food was good - chicken and pasta - nothing to complain about!
The first practice went pretty well considering we were running on almost no sleep. It was nice to finally get on the ice after travelling for so long. Some hockey bags with our practice jerseys and socks in them were hiding in a different storage spot in the arena than the rest of our team equipment and since the arena staff didn't find them until part way through practice, rumours of a "naked skate" were going around beforehand. Luckily, our German friends saved the day and lent us what we needed. We were a colourful bunch on the ice with defense wearing blue and the forwards wearing green, yellow, white and black.
After practice, we had dinner at the hotel, played a few team bonding games and then it was off to bed. All in all, a great first day!
Day Two - Tuesday February 8th
Today was our first full day here in Duisburg. It appears that after a 12 hour sleep, most of the players and staff are adjusted to the time change. Today was game day so after breakfast, we headed to the rink for our pre game skate. After practice, we went back to the hotel for lunch and then packed up for the one hour bus ride to Troisdorf, the small town where we played our exhibition game against Germany. The arena was very cold and unique with no glass and just mesh fence and netting above the boards. The rink was a fullhouse with just over 700 excited German fans in attendance. Most of the fans supported the home team by lighting sparklers during the player introductions.
We battled hard in our first game to an 11-1 win. Sabrina Harbec and Melanie Gagnon scored their first ever goals in a Team Canada uniform. It was a great way to start the week off. After the game we loaded the bus and headed back to Duisburg. Due to the 8PM game start and travel time, we didn't eat our post game meal until 12:30pm, which made it a late night. However, tomorrow holds some sightseeng and shopping after practice along with going to watch our men's national team play an exhibition game. Until then......
Day Three - Wednesday February 9th
We had our team photo and practice this morning and then headed into the neighbouring town of Dusseldorf to enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing and shopping. Chocolate was the big hit item for most - although some people were brave and tried the sausages from the street vendors. After dinner at the hotel (pasta and chicken again!), we went on a team outing to nearby Krefeld to watch the Men's National Team play Team Germany. It was an interesting atmosphere as the fans were quite loud and there was cigarette smoke everywhere on the concourse. Our team was dressed well in our "Team Canada outfits" in support of the men's team. After watching their 4-1 victory, we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep as it was a busy day off which left most of us pretty tired.
Day Four - Thursday February 10th
We woke up this morning and headed to the rink for the pre game skate. Breakfast was at 7AM and was followed by a short team builder before we got on the bus. Our skate was quick and got our legs going. This afternoon was filled with treatments and naps in preparation for the game against Finland Under 20.
The bench and boards have been tricky for us to adjust to. There is only one door and coming off we have to hop over the high boards. Some of the smaller girls have been having a few problems. We won the game with a great performance. Poor Meagan Walton broke her pinky finger including 6 stitches to go along with it. She is still all smiles which is great! That's all for now - game day again tomorrow vs. Switzerland.
Day Five - Friday February 11th
Today was our second game day in a row. We started the day off again with a 7AM breakfast and team builder and then it was off to the rink for the 45 minute pre game skate. Walton showed off a finger cast taped to her glove during practice. Aside from a few injuries, the team was all set to go for the game against the Swiss. The afternoon was spent napping at the hotel. Our late afternoon game pulled in only a small crowd, but it was a good match up. We won the game 10-1, althouhg it was a bit closer than the scoreboard displayed. There were a few penalties called for both sides which allowed for plenty of power play and penalty kill practice.
We spent the evening after the game back relaxing at the hotel. Some of the girls ventured out to the local gas station to get some German treats. Tonight marked the first meal since we arrived that we didn't have some type of pasta and tomato sauce - smiles were all around!
Day Six - Saturday February 12th
Today was the day of the final game. Everyone was pretty excited to get to the rink. We woke up and stopped at a store so that everyone could pick up some German chocolate on the way to the rink for the pre game skate. We skated a bit later today so there wasn't much turn around time before we had to be back for the game. We had a good video session and also honoured the four players who will be too old to retrun to the Under 22 team next year.
As we stepped on the ice for the game it was quite a surprise to see over 200 fans wearing red and white. A handful of members from the German Canadian Club were accompanied by Canadian soldiers from two nearby bases and all of them were quite eager to support our team. The game went well and we took gold at the Air Canada Cup by topping Germany. It was a great way to finish off the week. Tomorrow we head back to North America to our respective school and club teams. Overall, it was a great week that featured a great team effort.
Day Seven - Sunday February 13th
Today began with a 5:30AM wake up call. Everyone piled onto the bus in our matching Team Canada outfits ready to start our long journey home. Unfortunately when we got to the airport in Frankfurt, an airport security guard accidentally knocked over our trophy when he was loading a hockey bag onto the scanner and a glass chunk broke off. Luckily Wally came to the rescue with some Air Canada packing tape! We all made it on the plane and arrived back in North America safely. Cheers!