The Russia Chronicles, Day 1
August 17, 2019
North American Hockey League Director of Communications, Marketing, and Sales, Alex Kyrias, will be chronicling every day of Team NAHL’s trip to Russia, including stops in Moscow and Sochi for the 2019 Sirius Junior Club World Cup.
The Russia Chronicles, Day 1: That was a long ride
So the team woke up on Friday morning and departed for O’Hare airport as we caught a 747 British Airways flight to London, made a short hour and a half pit stop at Heathrow, and then took another British Airways flight to Moscow on a 777.
Part of the challenge at first for everyone will be adapting to the time change. Moscow (and Sochi for that matter) is eight hours ahead of anyone in the Central Time Zone in the United States. So, not only did we have 11 hours of plane time, but also had to basically miss a night of sleep as we flew through the night.
One of the first things to notice about this year’s team is how appreciative every player is to have been selected. Keep in mind, this isn’t your ‘traditional’ All-Star team. One player from every NAHL team who played during the 2018-19 season was selected for this inaugural team. I’m sure putting the pieces together wasn’t easy, but judging by an early character test, I would say we have a great group. Everyone is very respectful and quick to chat one another up.
Once in Moscow, everyone gathered for a team picture in the airport, followed by a bus trip the Soviet Wings University Sport Palace, which is where Team NAHL will practice and play an exhibition game in the upcoming days. It is a great old barn, built in 1980 and has all the trademarks of a classic European hockey venue.
It was then off to the Aerostar Hotel in Moscow, which will be our home the next four days. The hotel is very comfortable and I think after some initial jitters of what our first team meal in Russia was going to be like, everyone was pretty happy with dinner. Some of it was standard hockey team food like chicken and pasta, but there was also a definite Russian twist with pickled garlic, spinach soup, and pork.
Despite the long plane ride, the players were eager to get out and explore the local surroundings, which is a good sign that they are here not only to succeed on the ice, but enjoy this once-and-a-lifetime experience off the ice.
A quick note… a lot of people have asked about a live video stream broadcast of the NAHL games. The good news is, that is one of my tasks on this trip. We have all the equipment necessary and it has been tested and is ready to go. The only unknown is making sure that when we get to Sochi we have two main things 1) A good internet connection in order to stream, and 2) A video feed. We have been working with the organizers to insure we have both, but until we actually get there and test it out, we won’t know for 100%. The same goes for the exhibition game early Monday morning, August 19th. We would like to broadcast it, but until we get there and see about points 1 and 2 above, we won’t know. Regardless, if we do broadcast, it will be for free on the NAHLTV YouTube channel.
Time for bed, but Sunday we get to see Team NAHL on the ice for the first time!