- YouTube/Tim Horton’s
- As the first and only ice hockey team in their country, the Kenya Ice Lions have no other teams to play.
- Tim Horton’s gifted the team with a dream trip to Canada for their first game ever.
- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon surprised the Ice Lions in the locker room and suited up with them for the game.
As their country’s first and only ice hockey team, the Kenya Ice Lions aspired to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics. But without any competition or a single game under their belts, the Ice Lions’ dreams never became a reality.
Tim Horton’s sent the team to Canada to compete in its first-ever game, and National Hockey League superstars Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon surprised the players by suiting up for their team. The Kenyans were mesmerized.
Check out their reactions below:
“It is a dream to not only have the chance to play in Canada but to play for the first time in full gear alongside two of the greatest players of the game…” Kenya Ice Lions captain Benard Azegere said in a Tim Horton’s press release. “Seeing my favorite player coming through the door wearing our jersey, I felt like I was in heaven.”
For their part, Crosby and MacKinnon had a blast playing beside the Kenyans.
“The team’s genuine passion and excitement for hockey is contagious,” MacKinnon said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, but I thought those guys looked great… They were amazing teammates, and it was great to play with them.”
“I was honored to be able to join the Ice Lions as they played their first game against another team,” Crosby said. “I think I had just as much fun as any of those guys did today. One of the things I love about hockey is how it’s able to reach so many people from so many countries around the world and bring them together. “
According to CNN’s Aimee Lewis, the Ice Lions are looking ahead to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Considering the team only recently secured sufficient equipment and regular access to the only rink in East Africa, qualifying to play on the world’s greatest stage in just four year’s time would be quite an impressive feat. Azegere said that the team’s recent trip to Canada would help bring them one step closer to reaching their goal.
“When we first started playing in Kenya, we didn’t even have full equipment, but now not only do we have that, we can say we’ve played a real game with some All-Star teammates,” Azegere said. “Four years is enough time for us.”