Large crowds in Brockville, Smiths Falls and Kemptville witnessed this exhibition that featured great hockey, fine sportsmanship and a camaraderie that supports the theory that hockey is without a doubt a universal language shared by all.
The series started on Saturday March 31st at the Brockville Memorial Centre with RSL Kings President, Dave Van Stralen and his son, Ryan Van Stralen, who is a Kings alumni and current member of the Ottawa 67's, dropping the puck for the ceremonial face-off. The Kings were coming off an extended layoff from game competition and very nervous playing in front of a big audience and unknown competitors from another continent. Based on our observations regarding their style of play from their professional countrymen, we were expecting a skilled team of Swedes featuring plenty of skating, lateral passing and minimal physicality......we were wrong. The Swedes came out intense, aggressive and built a 5-0 lead after the 1st period. The Kings regrouped and played the style of play that made them one of the top teams in the OEMHL down the stretch. We carried the play for much of the 2nd and 3rd periods, received goals from Ethan Seed and Michael Anson but the deficit was too great and the Swedes prevailed 6-2. Zach Towns earned 3rd star honors while the Swedish goaltender deservedly was awarded the game's 1st star.
Game 2 was in Smiths Falls Sunday night and it proved to be a much different story. Prior to the game we paid respect to our community service providers as local representatives from the OPP, Firefighters, EMS and the Mayor performed the opening ceremonies in front of several hundred spectators. The boys were better prepared for their opponents this time and they were motivated to provide a different result than the previous evening. We were physical from the very start, utilized our team speed and puck movement and combined with solid goaltending skated to a convincing 7-0 win to even the series at one game each. Ryley Seip (2), Tommy Nedow (2), Cameron Brown, Brendan Muir and Zach Towns accounted for the scoring while Billy Gainford earned the shutout. Ryley Seip earned 1st star and Michael Anson was selected 3rd star.
The two teams and their families enjoyed an outing to Scotiabank Place Tuesday night to watch the Senators/Hurricanes, as well the Swedish entourage and team had the opportunity to meet many players including Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson before skating on an NHL ice surface for the first time.
The final and deciding game of this series took place at the Kemptville District Community Centre the following evening on Wednesday, April 4th. The Kings continued their strong play and defeated their Swedish guests 6-2 to capture the friendly series 2 games to1. Ethan Seed and Brendan Muir led the offence with 2 goals each while Andrew Garven and Troy Reeves tallied once. Ethan Seed earned 1st star honors and Billy Gainford was awarded 3rd star. After the game the teams exchanged jerseys and gifts in a respectful display of international hockey friendship.
This was an incredible experience for everyone involved. We are all honored and grateful to have participated in this hockey event and extremely proud to represent the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings Hockey Association and Hockey Canada.
We would like to thank Jonas Backman (Head Coach) and his coaching staff, the parents/families who travelled to Canada from Sweden and in particular the players (a polite and respectful group of 16 young men and 1 young woman) for providing this opportunity to unite 2 countries in a hockey exhibition that supports our passion and respect for the game of hockey.
The billeting opportunity was a fascinating educational experience, truly unforgettable. We were able to learn from each other, smile at our similarities and accept our differences. We hope we have given our visitors a taste of our famous Canadian hospitality and traditions; everything from poutine and maple syrup, to mini-sticks in the basement, to the value of friends and family.
Thank you to everyone who organized, promoted, attended and supported this event!
(on behalf of the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings Minor Bantam 'AA' team and the RSL Kings Association)