Russians on the Island

The Russian old-timers hockey team's four-game Goodwill Hockey Tour kicks off in Parksville April 5.

Many have no doubt seen the posters around town, but a reminder the Russian old-timers hockey team here on the Island as part of a four-game Goodwill Hockey Tour, which kicks off in Parksville April 5 at Oceanside Place.

Four Vancouver Island communities — Port Alberni, Parksville, Duncan and Campbell River — will host a Russian oldtimers’ hockey team for a four-game Goodwill Hockey Tour going April 5-9.

According Karyn Doerksen, sales director for the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association — which is co-hosting the game with the Regional District of Nanaimo and Oceanside Place — the Russian/Canadian Goodwill Hockey tour is a result of the U-17 Hockey Challenge that took place in 2008/09.

“Organizers of the Russian team were very pleased with their experience on Central Vancouver Island and sent a request to the organizers in Port Alberni to come back to the area and play hockey.

“This is a sport tourism first for Russia/Canada relations and the Port Alberni organizers were very interested in pursuing the opportunity,” explained Doerksen, adding the Alberni Valley group approached a number of other mid-Island communities “about joining them in welcoming the Russian players and host hockey games as well as showcasing their community.”

The Russian team is made up of players of varying ages, “some of whom are bringing their families with them to explore this part of the world.”

While here the visitors from Russia will also be tour the area and take in places such as Coombs Country Market, Qualicum Fish Hatchery, North Island WildLife Recovery, and Deep Bay Shellfish Research Centre.

“Thus we are in need of sponsorship for hosting a pre game lunch on Apr 5th, tour site activities, busing expenses and farewell to Parksville, Vancouver Island brunch on Apr 10,” said Doerksen, explaining “we are seeking community support for this event as expenses are mounting and this has become much more than just a hockey game, rather a mini-Parksville Russia vs. Canada Olympics and we hope to spread the word far and wide.”

The Russian team will be staying in Port Alberni for most of their stay on the Island, with their last night in Parksville at Tigh Na Mara Resort on Tuesday, April 9.

The home team she says is made up of local players that were invited to make up a team for this event.

Stay tuned for more on the Russian team.

GAME ON

Oceanside Place plays host to the Russian oldtimers team in Friday, April 5, in a 7 p.m. start. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to KidSport.

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