Players from the Abashiri North Stars wait for their turn to present the Alberni Valley Bulldogs with a flag from their Japanese city prior to the Bulldogs’ game

The language of hockey

The Abashiri North Stars hockey team from Abashiri, Japan spent last week in the Alberni Valley on a cultural exchange.

While the National Hockey League was busy getting its act together for a shortened season following a lockout, some international hockey was played in the Alberni Valley.

The Abashiri North Stars hockey team from Abashiri, Japan spent last week in the Alberni Valley on a cultural exchange. They were one of two delegations visiting Port Alberni from our sister city in Japan. Another student delegation comprising 25 people was also visiting.

Players, coaches, interpreters and students attended classes at Alberni Elementary School, John Paul II Catholic School and EJ Dunn Middle School and were given a tour of the AV Museum during their stay.

Last Thursday, the North Stars practiced with players from the Alberni District Secondary School hockey academy. They also joined the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ Jr. A team for 15 minutes of practice and inspiration.

“They were pretty thrilled about that,” Port Alberni Twinning Society president Sherri McKinnon said.

On Friday the North Stars played a friendly game against local minor hockey players, with the game going into overtime.

McKinnon credited minor hockey coach and city councillor Rob Cole with making many of the minor hockey arrangements.

Friday night, North Star members presented a city flag to Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ team governor Ron Paulson prior to the Bulldogs’ home game against Victoria Grizzlies. Team captain Ryan Lough was presented with a gift as well.

A Sayonara dinner was held at Echo Centre on Saturday before the delegation departed for Japan on Sunday morning.

The Port Alberni Twinning Society is still looking for Port Alberni students aged 11 to 15 who are interested in travelling to Abashiri in early July 2013. An informational meeting is planned for Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Alberni Elementary School library. Or contact Laurie Morphet by e-mail at lmorphet@sd70.bc.ca or phone at 250-724-0623. Students must pay for their own travel expenses.

An adult-only delegation is also planning to travel to Abashiri to celebrate more than 25 years of twinning.

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