The Russia Chronicles, Day 5
August 21, 2019
North American Hockey League Director of Communications, Marketing, and Sales, Alex Kyrias, will be chronicling every day of Team NAHL’s trip to Russia, including stops in Moscow and Sochi for the 2019 Sirius Junior Club World Cup.
The Russia Chronicles, Day 5: Goodbye Moscow, hello Sochi!
Wednesday was a travel day for the NA. The team woke up and had one final breakfast at the Aerostar Hotel, which has been our home for the last five days. It will be hard to say goodbye to the chicken nuggets in tomato sauce and egg sponge bake, but I think we will manage.
After packing up the equipment at the arena, we headed to the Moscow airport where we experienced a 2-hour check in process, but finally boarded S7 airlines for a two-hour flight to Sochi. We stopped for lunch at various restaurants in the airport and it was a chance for the players and staff to get their first taste of Americanized food. Some of the players had Subway, while others said they had fettuccine pasta with chicken or salmon. Team NAHL General Manager Tony Zasowski and Assistant Coach Rocky Russo each had a hot dog, while I split a pepperoni pizza with Head Coach Scott Langer. It was the most satisfied a lot of us had been with the food since we arrived.
Our arrival in Sochi was an eye-opener. I think the guys finally started to realize how big of an event this is to the locals. Our bags were brought out of a special door and we headed outside to the curb to meet our bus. After leaving the bag claim area, we were immediately greeted by a pretty good-sized media contingent with TV cameras and reporters. Team captain Jake Beaune got some face time and then the team gathered for a photo op.
The drive to the hotel was remarkably nice because it only took five minutes. In Moscow, we spent a lot of time on the bus because it was about a 20-25 mile trip from the hotel to the arena. Add in the traffic that comes with a city that has 12.2 million people and we must have spent at least two hours on a bus every day. However, Sochi is a much smaller, coastal resort-style town and it doesn’t take very long to get from one place to the other.
Right off the bat, there are signs of the Olympics all over the place. The Olympic Park is magnificent and everything is still in very good condition as only five years have past since Sochi hosted the Games. We checked into the Tulip Inn Omega Hotel, which is across the street from Olympic park and is just a 10-minute walk to both the arena and the beach. Settled on the coast of the Black Sea, Sochi is known as the ‘Russian Riviera,’ and it is one of the very few places in Russia with a subtropical climate, with warm to hot summers and mild winters. The average high in August is close to 83 degrees.
The hotel is a very nice place and I think all the players are really starting to understand that this is a big time event. Check in took no time at all and the rooms are very modern and clean. It will definitely next the next 11 days much more enjoyable.
On Thursday, Team NAHL has another excursion in the morning as we are going to the Sochi Skypark, which is a mountaintop thrill park with a pedestrian suspension bridge. In the afternoon, we have our first practice in Sochi. We will also get a look at our first opponent, Oulun Karpat from Finland, who practice right before us.