From the Locker-room
Excited to reach Germany, another place I’ve never been to, we loaded the bus and began our 8-9 hour trip to Amberg. We arrived at our new hotel, which is quite a nice business hotel, and we were all roomed with different players (two to a room this time.)
I was happy with my new roommate and we decided to check out the local town. It’s quite a different atmosphere around town and there are many nice cobblestone alleyways to get lost down if you are new to the area.
Luckily we found our way and to my roommate's delight they had a McDonald’s in town. Looking at the menu I was pretty surprised to find beer could be ordered, and again on our way back to the hotel at our local gas station you could also buy beer. I realized that here in Germany beer was probably favoured as a main beverage and very common if they served it at McDonald’s. (Hey Darren, it is called liquid bread over there! Note from the editor)
Waking up was very exciting; this day we got to see what a real continental breakfast is. I have been waiting for something other than sandwiches since probably the second day in Italy, and to my delight it is a buffet with everything I am accustomed to. A great way to start the day and get ready for our first game in Stuttgart we won that one but found the competition was a little more competitive.
We had a great day off the next day and we visited a water park. There are no water parks like this one that I have seen. This was a true water park, there were pools everywhere, a river leading outside and hot tubs, fountains and a waterslide! Who knew you could have so much fun on a waterslide, when you have pretty much a whole hockey team going down at once, then someone at the front stops and the inevitable crashing of hockey players one into the other creating a huge traffic jam of arms and legs, laughing and moaning, (as some of us were in a bit of pain) making for a great time.
Next day we woke up to breakfast and I was happy that the buffet wasn’t just a dream. Then we prepare to play in Misbach. My shoulder was a little sore at having a heel planted into it at high speed the day before, but I was excited to play. The game was much more rough and intense than previous games and some of the players got injured because of it, even though, we still came up with a tie game.
Afterwards we made it into the arena’s restaurant after the game to have Schnitzel and Spezi, a Fanta-Cola mix, everyone loves the schnitzel and are introduced to a new drink that they quite like.
We were supposed to play in Leipzig the next day, but our coach decided that it would be best to take the day off to allow some of our injured players to heal. I had no problem with that; we’ve had a pretty busy schedule and could use some time off. We had a nice team dinner that night, with more delicious Schnitzel and Spezi or local beer.
One thing I really liked in Germany were the glasses you get with your drinks, each one was different and fairly artistic, with a nice shape or logo on it and some German writing that I had no idea what it communicated, but was still nice to look at. (Probably the logos and the name of the kind of beer. Note from the editor)
We had to play two more games, one in Hassfort and one in Crimmitschau. We won one and tied the other in a really tight game where we were up 2-0, then they came back to tie it 2-2 late in the game with about 30 seconds left.
The entire hockey playing was great and more fun in Germany, as the teams were stronger and we still maintained an unbeaten record. Definitely an important trip to get used to the coaches and their style of coaching, as well as getting to know the team and what each player can do on the ice. It is not very often you get a chance to do what we did as a team, we should all benefit from the experience and a trip like this will just make us a stronger unit.
I loved the atmosphere, the people and the hockey in both Italy and Germany. Too hard to choose which I preferred because each were different and I had an equally great time in both countries, I must say breakfast wise Germany won hands down. Sad that the trip came to an end, but we still got one more day in Germany and make the best of it, going shopping, to restaurants and taking the last of our photographs. Unfortunately none of mine turned out well.
When it was time to leave and we got to the airport, we learned that our flight was cancelled. Most of the team was quite unhappy as they were looking forward to going home to see their friends, family or girlfriends. We got to stay in a hotel nearby for one more night, which I didn’t mind, I don’t know when I will be coming back to Germany, so I just enjoyed my time and made the most of it while I was there.
We finally got on our plane to come back to Toronto the next day. I am very happy with how the team did and all the fun experiences we had, looking forward now to a long and successful season with great coaches and a great bunch of players. Armed with some different culture and new experience on and off the ice we should do very well back in our league.
Even though I had the time of my life in both these great countries somehow I feel the best is yet to come.
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