Located on the tenth floor of the MegaBox shopping mall is Hong Kong’s largest ice rink. Featuring 30 metre high floor-to-ceiling windows, Mega Ice overlooks one of the world’s most famous harbours and is the home of the annual Hockey 5’s Tournament.
“Luckily our backs were turned to the view, otherwise we would have been distracted by it,” said Laurel Potter, an American player who made the trip to Hong Kong to compete in the tournament with the Singapore Ice Dragons Peewee team.
For Potter, this was a unique experience that exposed her to hockey in a country other than her own, and she describes just being able to even go to Hong Kong to play hockey as being the main highlight of the trip.
The youth Hockey 5’s Tournament ran from April 23 to 28 (with the adult Hockey 5’s Tournament running from April 30 to May 5), and featured teams that were mostly from countries in Asia such as China, Thailand, and Taiwan.
Potter, who spent last season with the St. Louis AAA Blues 12U Girls team, got involved in the tournament through one of her teammates. After an attempt to put together a team of American players to compete in the tournament fell through, Potter and her teammate were placed on the Singapore Ice Dragons team.
The Ice Dragons consisted mostly of male players who hailed from Singapore, the United States, Canada, China, and Latvia. While the team struggled after opening the tournament with a win, the tournament was still a great opportunity for the members of the Ice Dragons to learn from each other.
“It was a little bit different since the game is still developing there,” Potter said. “[But] how much [other players] push themselves to skate that hard for the whole time, for the 12 minute period, it’s insane. I thought that was actually really amazing.”
Potter’s father, Nick Potter, who travelled with Laurel to Hong Kong as one of Singapore Ice Dragon’s coaches, also noticed the dedication the players on the teams in the tournament had to the game.
“The kids are super fast and they’re very graceful skaters,” he explained. “I mean, in Bangkok [for example] there’s just one ice rink, but the kids love the sport, they love it.”
Being one of the few female players in the tournament did not faze Laurel, and her presence was noticed and praised by other people watching the games.
“Eyes were wide open, they were like, ‘oh, what are you doing here’, and she was like, ‘playing ice hockey’, and they were like, ‘what?’” said Nick. “But they were so accepting [of her].”
So what’s next? Laurel is aiming to one day play college hockey, but until then, she and her dad have their sights set on travelling back to Asia and attending a tournament in Thailand next summer.
Are you interested in also experiencing hockey in another country? Check out these links:
Photos courtesy of Laurel and Nick Potter