PORT McNEILL—Jake Grinnell skated for the North Island Eagles bantam hockey team last season after moving to Port McNeill with his family from White Rock on the Lower Mainland.
For his next on-ice act, he’ll do some real traveling.
Grinnell, 14, will visit China in early August with Top Shelf Hockey Allstars2China. The 17 bantam-level players will spend a week in cultural exchange and goodwill hockey games against a variety of Asian counterparts.
Despite the travel, the impending trip has been something of a homecoming for Grinnell, the only Vancouver Island player on the Top Shelf squad. His previous association with the program’s coach, Dave McLellan, and other teammates and opponents from the Lower Mainland earned him an invitation for the tour.
“Being a part of the Top Shelf Hockey All Stars means playing good, fun hockey with a bunch of my best buddies I’ve played with from my home town, where I moved away from last year,” Grinnell, a forward, wrote for his Allstars2China biography. “And getting to know some new players who’ve joined this year.”
In Beijing, the Allstars will face off against teams from China, Japan and Korea in a series of goodwill exhibition games.
In addition to playing hockey, the young players will visit the Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square, and make an educational foray to the Canadian embassy in Beijing.
But the key part of the experience is meant to immerse the skaters in the cultural experience, including shared practices, off-ice activities and cultural exchange.
“I get to spend the days with awesome people, playing the game I love, touring a foreign country where I get to experience amazing places like the Great Wall of China, probably eat some awesome Asian food, win games and learn about Chinese culture,” Grinnell said. “I have two months to fundraise and look forward to a trip that I will remember for a lifetime.”
Fundraising has been a big part of his summer already, both on a trip to Surrey to join teammates in a public event and through smaller activities on the North Island.
Grinnell also traveled to the mainland for a tune-up tournament with his Top Shelf teammates in late May-early June, and proved a key part of the team’s Silver Division championship. Grinnell scored the team’s opening goal in the final, then snapped a 2-2 tie with the game-winner in a 3-on-3, sudden-death overtime and was sent out to collect the team’s winning plaque.
“I’m proud of him for his hard work, ability to adapt to playing with a new team quickly and how proud he is to represent Port McNeill as part of this diverse group of players from different associations,” said Erica Grinnell, Jake’s mother.
To donate to Grinnell for his trip, visit www.allstars2china.com and click the sponsorship link.