This trip was special for so many reasons. Our first real trip outside of the US, Colin’s first time leaving the US and a really ambitious calendar – 3 games, across 3 leagues, in 3 days.
We flew into Ottawa on Friday morning and were greeted by a family friend who happened to a former Canadian secret service officer. As a favor to his friend, he chauffeured us around the first day, helping us navigate the city. On our way to the hotel, Colin got to have his first Tim Horton’s experience and was able to experience the amazing Cherry Tim Bits. We stopped off at the Rideau Canal, which is a World Heritage site and the largest skating rink in the world at just under 9 miles long. It’s a beautiful, frozen site with people skating and just enjoying themselves. Oddly enough and true to a very Canadian stereotype, we saw a couple men in khakis skating on their way home from work.
We took a quick trip over to Gatineau, Quebec to get tickets for that nights Olympiques game. This was really meaningful to me because my favorite player, Claude Giroux, went through the Gatineau program. The arena was modeled after the Montreal Forum and had an amazing community vibe to it. The concourse during the game felt like a true social event and created such a memorable event. Colin struck up a conversation with a guy who resembled Jeremy Roenick and didn’t speak a word of English. Game 1, Day 1 in the QMJHL was in the books.
Saturday was absolutely frigid, with the outdoor temperature at game time hitting -10 degrees. We spent the day touring Ottawa, visiting their capitol building and taking in some of the culture within the city. That night we took the bus out to the Canadian Tire Centre (which is actual outside of Ottawa). First impressions of the arena were great as the fans were super excited and the Senators were incredibly welcoming. Having contacted them ahead of traveling, they planned to bring Colin a gift back from their fan relations team. They brought him a ton of stuff in the the middle of the second period and being just seven at the time, it really made his night. After making our way back to the hotel, we watched some curling and went to bed. Game 2, Day 2 in the NHL was in the books.
Sunday was a relaxing (and warmer) day. We went back to the Rideau Canal and hung out for a bit on the ice, getting hot chocolate and Beaver tails, which Colin is now pleading with my wife to make. We went to check out an afternoon game with the Ottawa 67’s, home of current Flyer Travis Konecny who was injured when we were there. We were able to get seats right on the glass behind the 67’s bench. While the arena was a bit bland, the junior hockey game is a lot of fun to watch. It’s a bunch of young kids fighting to stand out and get noticed. The 67’s wound up pulling away and winning by a couple goals. A great moment for us was the 67’s trainer connecting with Colin during the game, fist bumping him through the glass after each big play and grabbing a game puck during a stopping and handing it over the glass to Colin. Game 3, Day 3 in the OHL was in the books.
I couldn’t have scripted this any better. So many amazing sites and experiences, warm and welcoming fans and locals made this just an incredible first trip. We’ve enjoyed all of our trips so far but Ottawa will always be special to us.
Our first trip on the NHL dream tour was in Ottawa. We didn’t go for the weather, we went for the love of hockey and the thrill of adventure. We had no idea how it would go but it was an outstanding trip. Skating on the longest rink in Canada, eating the most delicious food I’ve ever had and seeing three incredible hockey games. Let’s drop the puck and start talking about our trip.
Right off the plane we went to Tim Hortons for a donut. When in Canada you have to go there, they make Dunkin Donuts donuts look foolish. After a quick check in to our hotel we headed to the first of our three game spree, the Gatineau Olympiques. The players are guys pushing themselves to their limits to show that they can make it to the pros. The environment was electric with the crowd cheering a stunning 4-1 victory over Rouyn’ Noranda. After the game we went back to the hotel, watched sports on TV and passed out.
The next day we skated on the longest rink in Canada, the Rideau Canal. This is where I ate the best pastry ever, Beaver Tails. This delicious foot long treat is a fried whole wheat pastry topped with your choice of vanilla, cinnamon, or powdered sugar. But the best part of the day was when we saw the Senators in action. They fought hard against the Carolina Hurricanes but lost 3-2. The fans were so enthusiastic and passionate. Even though it was the first game we saw it is in my top three of all time.
We wrapped up are trip with game three at the Ottawa 67’s. Our seats were awesome, right behind the bench. But it would have been the worst game ever for me. I asked for some green cotton candy, which I thought would be green apple flavored. The vendor handed me the cotton candy and said he hoped I would enjoy their new flavor, pistachio. Without a second thought my dad grabbed it from me because I am allergic to pistachios.
I had a great time in Ottawa! You should check it out sometime and who knows maybe you might get to try some of the awesome food and experience hockey like never before.