”How About A Friendly Game..?”

Ever since Kajo’s Canadian Contingent set up a mini-rink at their booth on Kajo Avenue last weekend, the native Finnish Scouts have taken pity on the visitors and their, presumed, inferior hockey prowess.

Anyone not from either nation may be unaware of the position that Ice Hockey has in each country. It ranks just below maple syrup and saunas respectively in the core of each country’s culture. It was this depth of feeling that prompted a suggestion of a friendly game to become the creation of an exhibition rink in the Tori Plaza, by Kajo’s amazing workshop elves, and the arrangement of a grudge match for Tuesday afternoon.

And so it was, that the Canadians and Finns assembled four under 15’s, four under 18’s and four senior Scouts each to play a three-period, 30 minute game using a red rubber ball, and small hockey sticks. There was national pride (and rumours of potential rescinded citizenship) at stake.

Canada started well with the only goal in the first half of the first period. Players were swapped out every 5 minutes, to keep the action high octane. From then on, each period half added a goal for each side. Canada eventually winning by 6 goals to 5.

The Canadian crowd making themselves heard

Despite the raucous crowds (including many of the day visitors to Kajo), sportsmanship and camaraderie were in evidence. With mix-gender teams and, sometimes, mismatches in heights and shoulder-broadness, there might have been a slight worry that enthusiasm might evolve into aggression, but true scouts all, the game, while tense throughout, remained amicable.

At the end of the game, the team in red emerging victorious shook hands with their valiant hosts, and the crowds applauded both for a game well played.

Why they sent an Irishman to report on hockey is still a mystery.

Text: Ger Hennessy
Photos: Didrik Lundsten