It seems they just can’t get enough of the Great White North.
The Cayman Breakaway hockey team, sponsored by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, were back for another shot at winning the cup at the annual World Pond Hockey Championships.
It’s a hugely popular four on four tournament played each year on outdoor rinks in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, attracting teams from around the globe.
En route to the tournament, the team, consisting of Bill Messer, Darren Lawrence, Norm Klein, Joe Stasiuk and newcomer Patrick Agemian, stopped off in Ottawa – the nation’s capital and a major hockey town – to share their love for the game and their island home of Cayman.
All four team members are Canadians now living in Grand Cayman full time. With a stingray fittingly serving as their mascot, the team chose the name Breakaway to both evoke images of the most exciting move in hockey and a Cayman Islands warm-weather escape.
So popular is the jersey, it made history several years ago by being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. They also met Canadian Broadcasting Corporation personality and former NHL player PJ Stock
Attracting attention wherever they go, the team made appearances on various broadcast stations in Ottawa including Live 88.5, Rogers Daytime Ottawa and CBC Morning Ottawa radio.
After leaving Ottawa, the Breakaway met up with CBC again in Plaster Rock, appearing on the nationally syndicated CBC News: Morning and the annual CBC Hockey Day in Canada broadcast.
The team also had an opportunity to play hockey and mingle with CBC Hockey Night in Canada hosts, Ron McLean and Kelly Hrudey.
‘People are fascinated with why we would choose to leave beautiful Seven Mile Beach in Cayman for the bitter cold of Plaster Rock, but the truth is our love of hockey and the camaraderie at the tournament is what makes this a major highlight for us each year,’ said team captain Messer.
With no ice rink to practice on, the team, assisted by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, hitches a ride to Tampa with Cayman Airways several times a year to get in shape at the Tampa Bay Lightening facility.
Unfortunately the practice didn’t get them to the finals this year, but the team has enjoyed the opportunity to represent the destination through the years. Out of five games played at the tournament, the Breakaway won two and lost three.
‘If you’re a Canadian, no matter where you live, hockey still runs deep,’ says Messer. ‘And we’ve got the best of both worlds: we get to live in paradise and play hockey the way the game was meant to be played. You can’t beat that.’