December 29, 2023
Burnaby, B.C. – It took two flights and a more than 7,500-kilometre journey for Denmark’s Esbjerg Ice Hockey Club U16 team to step onto the ice in Burnaby as the first European participant in the Pat Quinn Classic.
The Esbjerg team is one of 59 competing at the 2023 edition of the hockey tournament. “It’s always fun to see teams from back home,” says Jannik Hansen, a former Vancouver Canuck and former member of the Danish national team. “This is probably the one opportunity for these players to make a trip like this to Canada. It’s a tremendous experience for the kids to play in a Canadian city.”
Danish delegation leader Jesper Brieuc Bærentsen says everyone is thrilled to finally be in the Lower Mainland for the full tournament experience offered by the Pat Quinn Classic. His group has spent the last two years planning the trip. “It’s really fantastic because in Denmark, hockey is a small sport. We wanted to come to Canada because it is really the home of hockey.”
“We have been having a good time at the hotel and around Burnaby, it’s been very nice,” says Kasper Tang Jensen, defenceman for the Esbjerg Ice Hockey Club. “On the ice, there’s a lot of energy and the game is very fast. The rinks here are smaller.”
“It was fun and different,” describes Mikkel Poulsen, who plays centre for Esbjerg, following the team’s first game. “It was a little more physical game than we’re used to.”
Back at home, the Esbjerg team plays three games a week.
“It’s great experience and a lot of fun with these guys,” says winger Thoke Heinsen. “I am so happy that we made the trip here.”
Teams from the United States have been taking part in the Pat Quinn Classic for many years, but Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley says with the first European team, the tournament is even more international now. “It’s wonderful to meet the players and the parents,” he says. “They are so excited to be here and they’re making memories that will last forever.” Having the tournament discovered in Europe “speaks to the reach of the Pat Quinn Classic and how it continues to grow,” concludes Hurley.
The Pat Quinn Classic continues until December 31. The schedule, scores and standings are available here.
The Bill Copeland Sports Centre in Burnaby is the feature venue for the 2023 Pat Quinn Classic. Games are also taking place at Planet Ice Delta, Planet Ice Coquitlam, Scotia Barn Burnaby and the Burnaby Winter Club.
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