B.C. hockey coach brings Canada's national pastime to Mongolia

Mongolia isn't exactly a hockey hotbed.

The landlocked country sandwiched between China and Russia is home to only 13 rinks – all of them outdoors – and just 653 registered hockey players.

See Full Article

But for hockey coach Nathan Leslie, making a more than 8,000-kilometre journey to share his country's national pastime was part of satisfying a life's ambition.

"This is exactly fulfilling a dream I had of connecting with coaches and hockey enthusiast around the world," he told CTV Vancouver.

Leslie coaches hockey at the Britannia Hockey Academy in Vancouver. He previously played Junior-A hockey in his youth, and had a few stints in Switzerland's National League before he retired and became a coach.

Earlier this year, Leslie decided to venture to Mongolia with his brother and a small film crew, to spread his love of the game.

Mongolia couldn't afford to bring over Leslie and his crew, so the Canadians took it upon themselves to raise the $22,000 necessary to make the trip.

After securing the funds, the group finally made it to the Asian country in February, bringing with them 10 bags full of hockey gear, including over 50 pairs of skates.

Starting in the capital of Ulaanbaatar, the group visited seven of the country's rinks, making their way north, to just 80 kilometres from the Russian border.

Despite the frigid temperatures, Leslie and his crew received a warm welcome.

Leslie said the nomadic Mongolian people would sometimes arrive on horseback to watch practices and bring them lunch.

"We had a group one day wait five hours in -25C to -29C weather, hoping that we would show up and get on the ice," he said.

Leslie said he was impressed by his pupils' determination to learn the sport.

"They're tough. They're resilient. They're as passionate as we are," he said.

Thanks to the success of the trip, Leslie has plansto spread his love for the game in other countries where hockey is on the margins of the collective consciousness. Next on the docket are China and New Zealand– two countries that have just over 2,500 registered hockey players combined.

"Hockey is the vehicle that has been able to take us around the world, and (I) just cherish that and enjoy it," he said.

With files from CTV Vancouver


Latest Canada & World News

  • Bulldozers start demolishing Calais migrant camp

    World News CTV News
    CALAIS, France -- Bulldozers have started demolishing the makeshift migrant camp in the French port city of Calais, one day after authorities declared it empty. Work intensified on Thursday to remove the tents and shelters, shops and restaurants at the site, until recently a sprawling temporary home to thousands of people trying to go to Britain. Source
  • UNICEF calls airstrike on school a potential war crime

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT - The UN Children's agency called the airstrikes in Syria's rebel-held northern Idlib province a day earlier an "outrage", suggesting it may be the deadliest attack on a school since the country's war began nearly six years ago. Source
  • British economy didn't take a hit in 1st quarter since Brexit vote

    World News CBC News
    Britain's economy grew more than expected in the third quarter despite uncertainty in the aftermath of the vote to leave the European Union. The Office of National Statistics said Thursday that Britain's economy grew by a quarterly rate of 0.5 per cent in the July-September period. Source
  • Why Donald Trump's path to win the Keystone State runs uphill

    World News CBC News
    A light rain drizzled down on Donald Trump supporters as they boarded a bus in a grocery store parking lot in York, Pa. Near the back, George Flinn sat with his wife and said he was looking forward to the rally he was going to for Mike Pence, the running mate of the Republican candidate for the U.S. Source
  • What's happening in Muskrat Falls? Here's a primer

    Canada News CBC News
    The fight over the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador appears to have stopped short of reaching a crisis point — including fears around the fate of three protesters staging a hunger strike — for now. Source
  • CMHC plays catch-up with vaguely alarming house price warning: Don Pittis

    Canada News CBC News
    Warnings about the Canadian property market are nothing new. International business publications and global banks have been calling it a bubble for years. Nobody listened. Now that the Crown corporation that insures residential mortgages, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, has added its voice with what turns out to be a mushy and moderate warning, will anybody listen? Source
  • Justin Trudeau protest marks 'turning point' for frustrated youth

    Canada News CBC News
    Tuesday's protests against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflect a growing discontent over a lack of Liberal action on affordable education and jobs for young Canadians, youth leaders say. And they warn that more demonstrations are likely on the way. Source
  • Gingrich is above discussing sex lives of politicians? That's a howler: Keith Boag

    World News CBC News
    With stunning hypocrisy Newt Gingrich slammed FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly Tuesday night for, in his view, putting prurience ahead of public policy in her coverage of the U.S. presidential race. Gingrich scolded Kelly for framing her question about Donald Trump's nosedive in opinion polls around whether the Republican nominee is a sexual predator. Source
  • Early voting shows good news for Clinton in key battlegrounds

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - Millions of votes that have been cast already in the U.S. presidential election point to an advantage for Hillary Clinton in critical battleground states. Data compiled by The Associated Press also show signs of Democratic strength in traditionally Republican territory. Source
  • Montreal borough to adopt bylaw in bid to stem tide of gentrification

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL - A gritty Montreal neighbourhood with roots that date back to the industrialization of Canada is trying to stop itself from turning into an enclave of trendy, upscale restaurants and little else. A zoning bylaw set for a final vote on Tuesday would prevent new restaurants from setting up within 25 metres of an existing establishment. Source