Red Deer rec hockey team headed for Poland

Eight hours of straight hockey is just a warmup for one recreational team heading to Poland for a trip full of games.

Eight hours of straight hockey is just a warmup for one recreational team heading to Poland for a trip full of games.

The team of 14 players and a coach will hit the ice from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 1 and play against a different team each hour.

The play-athon is a fundraiser for the trip the team plans to Poland to play the sport they love with various teams and in schools throughout the European nation.

Crystal Neumann is helping organize the trip and the game and said the team made up of men from around Alberta is eagerly anticipating going to Poland and sharing hockey with people of all ages.

Neumann’s husband Karl is originally from Poland and emigrated to Canada seven years ago.

Three years ago, Karl and his brother-in-law, Allister Koop, went to Poland and ended up watching a few hockey games there.

“They don’t have a lot of hockey leagues or teams in Poland,” said Neumann. “Our friend there, he travels two hours to Gdansk, Poland, to play in a league once a week.”

After watching a few games in Poland, her husband and Koop started discussing how much fun it would be to bring a team from Canada over to play rec teams there.

“That was a few years ago and we talked about it a little bit and a year ago we really started seriously considering it and planning and feeling it out and things have been falling into place,” said Neumann.

“Our Polish friends were just so excited that someone from Canada would come over and watch them play and they thought it would be a fun thing to bring a team from Canada over.”

The outdoor game is scheduled for Dec. 1 at the Pines outdoor rink, at 8 Page Ave., Neumann hopes the weather will be co-operative.

Although everyone involved in the trip has already paid for their flights to and from Poland, they are fundraising to cover lodging, meals and other transportation expenses in Poland.

On top of the play-athon’s eight hours against eight different teams, there will be a 50/50 draw and a concession selling hot chili, warm and cold beverages and homemade doughnuts.

The team arrives in Poland just in time to play against teams in Gdansk for the weekend. During the week, they are going to nearby towns and villages and have arranged to be involved in the phys-ed programs of two area schools.

“Do some floor hockey games, drills and things like that,” said Neumann. “That will be a couple of days throughout the week.”

The group is trying to arrange a few more games during the week, including an outdoor game or two.

For the final weekend they are in Poland, they have three games scheduled for one Saturday.

“I think we’re hoping to play at least eight teams on the two weekends and then a couple during the week,” said Neumann. “It’s going to be busy, but the guys have said they’re going over there to play hockey and they want to get as much in as they can.”

The team is composed of 10 players from Red Deer and four, including Koop, from Lethbridge. The players are between the ages of 25 and 60.

Anyone interested in sponsoring or supporting the Poland-bound hockey players can contact Neumann at 403-597-1526 or by email at crkoop@hotmail.com.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com