Wednesday, May 19
I had just stepped foot in my hotel room in Utica, N.Y., with what seemed like my 150th quarantine dinner when my phone buzzed in my pocket.
I answered it, and the guy on the other end happened to be a two-time Olympic gold medallist and frankly one of the best to ever play the goaltending position in the history of the game. “Hi, Mike. It’s Roberto Luongo.” I found myself speechless and that is a rarity, just ask my parents! Roberto asked me to be a part of this year’s Team Canada for the IIHF World Championship; I was excited and honoured to represent my country in whatever capacity I can.
Fast forward 10 days, and after countless phone calls trying to get my car back into Canada, explaining to my family exactly where I was going and trying not to forget my equipment in the process, I got to Newark, N.J. I waited in line at Newark Liberty International Airport with Connor Brown and our equipment manager Johnny Forget for another COVID-19 test, this one for when we landed in Latvia.
My alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. the next morning, and after hitting snooze more times than I’d like to admit, I got to meet the rest of my teammates and we headed to Europe. After a short eight-hour flight, we landed in Riga and piled off the plane, eager as ever to get on the ice and start skating and competing with each other, playing the sport we all love.
But there was another isolation period to get through, so I guess that made it quarantine dinner No. 162 – at this point, who’s counting? Freedom came yesterday, and everyone was excited to be together again and get this going. Between breaking in my new pads, working through the cobwebs and practicing our systems, practice was a successful one. Finishing off with a couple games of rebound and a few breakaways, I can feel us coming together as a true team that will only grow stronger as the tournament progresses.
This is a year like no other, but I speak on behalf of my teammates that we are so honoured to represent our great country and do things the Canadian way. Thank you for all your support and GO CANADA GO!