It has been so long since my Moose Proposed Plan of Action that I’ve forgotten, lost, or misplaced much of the research I so painstakingly gathered in order to write about The Canadian Moose for a whole month.
This is probably because I’ve travelled to both Medicine Hat and Edmonton this month, plus I’ve had to research and write on a variety of computers for various reasons. It has all been quite complicated.
Unfortunately, the intro for my story is one of those forgotten pieces, but I’ll go for it anyway.
Back in the day, when world travel was relatively new, people thought it would be great to introduce new species to areas, like evil fat grey squirrels to western Canada, and the Canadian Goose to Europe.
And, interestingly enough, moose to New Zealand.
This was ages ago and a moose hasn’t been seen on the Islands in decades. However, there are people who firmly believe there is still a small herd of moose hiding out somewhere in the New Zealand bush… like the elusive North American Sasquatch, who roams the Pacific forests. Apparently.
Knowing of this New Zealand sasquatch-moose, Mark Sadgrove of The Canadian Moose travelling hockey club used this to get some attention on one of their tours down under.
“We call it moose-migrations,” said Sadgrove. They decided to advertise the team’s travelling hockey schedule by making posters saying the moose had been spotted and could be seen at the game that night. Sneaky.
|The Canadian Moose down under
The tour schedule of the Moose is a bit confusing, but basically it involves free hockey clinics at local clubs in the day, and then paid showcase games for spectators to enjoy in the evenings. In the first years of the tours, there was varied interest but then a local hockey enthusiast Dr. Ashley Lye got involved and everything changed.
Dr. Lye first crossed paths with the Moose several years ago when he volunteered to billet a couple players. He was asked to take four and he said, no problem. By the time he left the airport he had six Moose in tow and by the second night he was hosting 11. They had a great time but he decided the team needed a bit of logistics help and volunteered for the position. He has been a part of the Moose ever since.
“I’m helping out any way I can,” said Dr. Lye. “I know the land very well, I have some skills at organizing. I know a few people, Mark (Sadgrove) knows a few people and it seems to work.”
With someone on the other side to help keep things organized, venues began to see increased patronage and games soon sold out. Word of the great hockey quickly spread and now games are sold out before the tour even begins.
And this year a promotional company in New Zealand has stepped in to organize and promote three professional-level games: Canada vs. U.S. They’re expecting 8,500 people to fill the stadium for each of the games.
Dr. Lye now lives in Newmarket and helps organize the tours, as well as plays for the Old Timers team on the Moose. He knows it’s only time before hockey in New Zealand catches on.
“New Zealand likes fast, powerful team sports. If people start to understand hockey, it will be a real natural for them. The key is to make it accessible for them.”
Dr. Lye said the best way to make hockey stick in the south pacific is education. And that’s what The Canadian Moose travelling hockey club is all about.
“It’s hard to duplicate this concept, but Mark has it working,” said Dr. Lye. “This is a great opportunity for hockey players to travel and play the sport.”
Past teams have included past and future NHL players. To find out more about The Canadian Moose, visit canadianmoose.org.
(Click here for Part One)