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



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Manchester attack a tough test for British PM Theresa May

    World News CTV News
    MANCHESTER, England -- It's a moment all leaders dread: Standing on television to tell the nation there has been a bombing -- and another attack might be coming. British Prime Minister Theresa May, an unelected leader in office for less than a year, handled this week's bombing in Manchester with a sombre dignity that reassured many Britons, and will likely give her a boost when voters go to the polls on June 8. Source
  • Trump choosing caution over chaos on first big trip

    World News CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- In his first big tour on the world stage, U.S. President Donald Trump is choosing caution over his usual brand of chaos. The early morning Twitter rants that so often rattle Washington have disappeared as Trump travels through the Middle East and Europe. Source
  • Daughter of B.C. winery owner jailed in China seeking Ottawa's help

    Canada News CTV News
    The daughter of a British Columbia couple jailed in China last year while on a business trip is calling on the Canadian government to take action and bring her parents home. Lulu Island Winery owner John Chang and his wife Allison were arrested in China in March 2016 for allegedly underreporting the value of their wine, Chinese officials said. Source
  • Dog dies after being found buried alive in Quebec

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    MONTREAL — An injured dog found buried alive on Montreal’s South Shore appears to be in stable condition as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals investigates what happened to the animal. The Monteregie SPCA says the dog, a Boxer, was extremely dehydrated when it was first brought in for care Tuesday and couldn’t even lift its head. Source
  • Lethbridge mom fired while caring for son with cancer welcomes proposed law

    Canada News CTV News
    A Lethbridge, Alta. mother who was fired while caring for her son with cancer is applauding new provincial legislation designed to make sure other parents like her don’t lose their jobs during one of the toughest times of their lives. Source
  • N.B. government signs collective agreement with teachers, includes wage hike

    Canada News CTV News
    FREDERICTON -- The New Brunswick government says it has reached a five-year contract with the province's teachers' federation. In a statement Wednesday, the province says the deal will cover nearly 8,000 teachers, supply teachers, vice-principals and principals and will provide annual wage hikes of one per cent. Source
  • Queen Elizabeth visits victims of Manchester terror attack [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    British authorities say an 8-year-old girl, Saffie Roussos, was among the 22 who died in the Manchester bombing. Medical officials say 12 children under the age of 16 were among those injured in the suicide bombing attack at a pop concert in Manchester, England. Source
  • British officials enraged after New York Times publishes photos detailing Manchester suicide bombing [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    MANCHESTER, England — British police arrested two more people and searched a new site in Manchester suspected of links to the concert bombing that left 22 people dead, as British authorities complained bitterly Thursday about investigation leaks blamed on U.S. Source
  • Obama gets rock-star welcome in Berlin, praises Merkel

    World News CTV News
    BERLIN -- Barack Obama received a rock-star welcome in Berlin as he appeared at a public debate Thursday with Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he praised as one of his "favourite partners" during his presidency. Security was tight in front of the German capital's iconic Brandenburg Gate, where Obama and Merkel appeared on a podium before thousands of people attending a gathering marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Source
  • Georgia: Sheriff suspends self after indecency allegation

    World News CTV News
    ATLANTA -- A Georgia sheriff recently arrested by an officer who accused him of exposing himself in a park has suspended himself for one week. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann emailed sheriff's office employees Tuesday, saying he imposed the maximum penalty for conduct that "has a tendency to destroy public respect. Source