The eight-member Calgary beer league hockey team won Costa Rica’s first-ever hockey tournament, defeating the Los Angeles Ruination 7-5.
Described as “an otherworldly experience”, the Calgary Citizens also played against a team from the Falkland Islands, and Costa Rica’s own, El Castillo Knights.
The Calgary Herald reports the entire event was a once in a lifetime experience for the Canadian players who range in age from 32 to 50.
“It was definitely a really cool experience,” said the 37-year-old, calling from Costa Rica on Monday, a day after his team won a see-saw 7-5 championship game against the Los Angeles Ruination. We’re were playing in front of hundreds of fans who are just loving it. Kids are coming up to us asking for autographs — that’s a first and a last for us,” said Calgary’s Kyle Kemp.
The tournament was played before hundreds of spectators at the Castillo Country Club in the hills of Heredia, as the players had to adapt to an ice surface about half the size of a Canadian rink, low boards and no glass partitions, playing three-on-three with no slapshots.
“They were totally blown away. For our local team, it was an important learning experience as we had never actually played another team before,” said Bruce Callow, former and long-time expat in Costa Rica. “Having three foreign teams really made the tournament memorable and historic and having the Falklands come here was off the scale amazing.”
Kemp said he and his teammates plan to spend the rest of this week in Costa Rica, returning to Calgary on Friday. And he’ll be first to volunteer for any future tournaments in the growing Central American hockey mecca.
“Walking into a (ice) rink in flip-flops is a real challenge,” Kemp told the Calgary Herald. “We’d love to come back.”