Kenya men's hockey is represented by only one team: The Kenya Ice Lions. There's one ice rink in Kenya, Solar Ice Rink, which is located in Panari Sky Center in Nairobi. The Ice Lions have no one to play against, and they meet twice a week at Solar Ice Rink to practice. The team had aspirations of playing in the Olympics in 2018. However, without competition, that dream was impossible.
Tim Horton's decided to help the Ice Lions get some competition. Twelve members of the senior team were brought to Canada to play against their first opponent. The team was given new equipment and customized jerseys, but the best surprise was still to come. The Penguins' Sidney Crosby and the Avalanche's Nathan MacKinnon -- a few Canadian superstars who grew up with a stick never too far away -- showed up to surprise them in the locker room after a pregame speech.
The reactions are beautiful.
"Sidney..." said Benard Azegere, a center for the team. "Seeing my favorite player coming through the door wearing our ... jersey... I felt like I was in heaven."
Players gathered around Crosby and MacKinnon just to make sure they were real. Then, it was time to hit the ice.
"I didn't really know what to expect but I thought those guys looked great," MacKinnon said. "It's cool to see the genuine excitement that they had and it got us really fired up."
"To meet people from different places and to share the game we love to play, I think I had just as much fun as any of those guys did today," Crosby added.
At the end, both sides posed with the Kenya and Canada national flags.
The Ice Lions aren't resting on their laurels. This team now has its sights set on the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. It's a long road to traverse in a short period of time, but for this team, this game is just the first step.