It’s no Stanely Cup playoffs, but on November 18 & 19, Costa Rica’s first ever international ice hockey tournament will take place in the hills of Heredia, where it is much cooler than in the Central Valley, at the Castillo Country Club, home of the Castillo Knights..

The Calgary Citizens recreational hockey team is headed to the Castillo International Hockey Tournament in Costa Rica this weekend. Back row from left to right: Kyle Kemp, Kyle Bakx, Todd McDermott and Chris Epp. Front row from left to right: Jordan Miller, Erin Collins, Ken Trudeau. Missing from the photo is goalie Pat Carroll. (Castillo Knights Hockey Club – Costa Rica/Facebook)

For the two day event, a truly Canadian hockey team will be on hand to compete with national teams and a team from Los Angeles (California) and the Falkland Islands, who will be playing on Central America’s only ice skating rink.

This is a big deal for Costa Rica, as well for a group of Calgary, Alberta, men who are about to graduate from beer league hockey to the international stage — and with the encouragement from Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent this letter of support to the team, noting “spectators will surely be impressed by the high level of skills and athleticism on display.” (Erin Collins/CBC)

In a report by CBC.ca, the Calgary Citizens is a recreational hockey team of “guys who played hockey all their lives but never really made it probably beyond high school hockey,” player Ken Trudeau, with the same last name but no relation to the Trudeau in Ottawa.

They may not be in the same league as Canadian greats, like Ken Dryden, Paul Henderson, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, but the group, ranging in ages from early 30s to 50, loves the sport and now are heading to Costa Rica.

But the crew, ranging in age from early 30s to 50 — including two CBC Calgary journalists — loves the sport, and now they’ve been invited to a small tournament in Costa Rica.

For their international debut, the team sought the support of the Prime Minister, writing Justin Trudeau. The team applied for and received a letter of support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — no relation to the player with the same surname.

“There was something in the letter about a high level of skill and athleticism. We’ll touch on that maybe off-air,” player Kyle Kemp joked with Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray. “We’re an older group of proud, hockey-playing Canadians,” Trudeau said.

The participation of the Calgary team at the Castillo tournament is no coincidence. The event is being organized by Bruce Callow, a Calgary ex-pat, who brought his love of the sport to a country where there is no snow or ice – just extremely cold air conditioning – when he moved to Costa Rica about 30 years ago.

The team doesn’t expect to take home the trophy now that the tournament has expanded to include the Los Angeles and Falkland Island teams, and in the joking words of player Kyle Kemp, “We’re hoping not (to earn the title of the worst team Canada’s ever fielded) but there are those chances”.

More info on the ice hockey tournament on Facebook.


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