Students from the Hockey Canada Skills Academy programs at Cardinal Carter Catholic Secondary School and F.J. Brennan Catholic High School in Windsor, Ont. – 81 in all – went on the field trip of a lifetime late last year.
The 1,000-kilometre journey took them from Windsor to Toronto, then across the border to Buffalo.
The itinerary? The Hockey Hall of Fame Resource Centre, where they checked out items in the HHOF vault, the Air Canada Centre, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and finally the KeyBank Center for the Buffalo Sabres vs. Edmonton Oilers.
CLICK HERE for a video of the trip (courtesy of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board)
Students were asked to write about their experience…
‘The Resource Centre’ by Jace Leach
“The smell in the air was like a woodshop. The rack had everything from Wayne Gretzky sticks to sticks used in international competitions from other countries. [The resource centre] had shelves full of hockey history. We walked through the cold room where they stored nearly every image from the NHL and other leagues on film, including the original film from Bobby Orr’s famous ‘diving’ goal. Walking out, I thought to myself, ‘If this is so great, I wonder how much better the Hockey Hall of Fame is?’ Soon I would find out.”
‘The Air Canada Centre’ by Ty Moss
Walking into the Air Canada Centre, I felt butterflies in my stomach. I was nervous because I knew I was surrounded by the greatest minds in hockey. What would it be like to play here? I felt a chill down my spine as I thought more about the idea of stepping onto the ice. As the tour guide brought to us into arena – set up for basketball on this day – I was frozen. Looking around, blocking out sound it was like a dream, each breath I took felt fresh, as if I had been reborn. At this moment, I couldn’t help but smile.”
‘Connor McJesus’ by Liam Sinisac
“We were all silent as he exited the dressing room through the tunnel. Standing there in a blue Edmonton Oilers practice jersey was my idol, Connor McDavid. He signed autographs with a smile. I watched as he idly walked to the edge of the bench holding his sticks. I sat there in awe trying to process the fact that I was less than 80 feet away from the greatest hockey player in the world. My eyes were locked on him like a deer in the headlights. Being able to see the speed and skill was one of the greatest things I had ever seen inside a rink.”
‘First Impressions of Connor McDavid’ by Eric Dale
“As I walked through the KeyBank Center, I couldn’t help but notice how many Edmonton Oilers jerseys I saw, and most had No. 97 on the back. It got pretty cold sitting in Section 311, but I didn’t focus on that; I was too mesmerized by watching Connor McDavid warm up. Watching how precise each pass he made was, watching how quick each of his releases were, and watching him change gears as he skated around the net.”
‘The Beautiful Feed’ by Carson Hamlin
“The distinct smell of hot dogs and nacho cheese was in the air as I watched Ryan O’Reilly give Rasmus Ristolainen a beautiful feed for the overtime winner. Stepping on empty popcorn bags and unfinished chip bags made the narrow rows even narrower, but I didn’t mind. I was hypnotized by the Sabres power play, and intrigued by the penalty kill. As the game concluded, so did our trip. The excitement of the game and the last two days had us all tired by the end. Goodbye and good night, Buffalo, New York.”
‘The Rough Road’ by Tyler Laureault
“The lights were fully dimmed. The view was a black field with the odd set of trees peeking out from the darkness. The sounds of 81 people were non-existent. I was the lonely straggler awake besides the bus driver, taking in the sights of such a peaceful ride. I close my eyes and finally drift off to a deep sleep. The sound of complaints from fellow classmates wake me up. The bus had [broken down], and everything turned to a panic. To our rescue, another bus pulled up. The fresh-seat smell filled our noses and soon the sounds of snoring children was faintly heard over the engine’s roars. Our destination was reached at 4:38 a.m.”