Your correspondent’s 7:00am wake-up call on December 26th seemed harsher than usual. Not sure if it was the Christmas dinner wine, lack of sleep from over-eating or the fact that it was time to make haste to Nadrazi Holesovice and talk to 420 fellow Canadian hockey fans on their way to the World Juniors Hockey Championship. How does a group so large travel to Ostrava for the opening game against the USA? Charter a train!
“When we were faced with the challenge of moving about 420 hockey fans from Prague to Ostrava all at once, we knew rail would be the most efficient method. Plus it will provide our people with a unique experience. So we are dubbing our train “The World Junior Express”. I suspect this has never been done before with such a large group of Canadians travelling together in Europe (probably also a first for Prague) so this will be just one more highlight of our 20th Anniversary trip”, said John Carroll from Destiny Tours, the organizer of the trip based in Guelph, Ontario. “We have people (from) literally every Province and territory in Canada (except Nunavut) as well as some Canadians joining us from the USA. This will be our 3rd adventure to the Czech Republic”, added Carroll.
20 years ago Rita and John Carroll approached Hockey Canada with the idea of providing travel packages to the parents of Team Canada Players. Denis Hainaut responded from Hockey Canada that it was a great idea and the partnership has grown into this year’s largest ever group. Hainaut was even present yesterday morning as he helps Destiny Tours with the organization. “It started small with 26 people”, said Hainaut about the humble beginnings. “This year will be the biggest with a group of 784 Canadian fans. There are two parts in the program: Budapest with approximately 350 fans and Prague with 420 fans.”
We also met Lori Corriveau Consul from the Canadian Embassy. “We are expecting well over 2000 Canadian fans for the tournament, there are 2000 fans just with the organized tours.” The planned turnout was so large that Ms. Corriveau went to Trinec and Ostrava before-hand to discuss safety procedures for the tournament. “We were impressed with the organization in Ostrava and Trinec in particular for all types of emergencies. Visiting the cities was a very positive experience.”
Canada’s comeback from a 2-0 deficit to win their first game 6-4 over Team USA was exactly the type of action the fans came to see. In ten days time there should be thousands of hockey fans from around the globe with good memories and a nice experience in Ostrava and Trinec.