Being the only ice hockey team in Kenya left the Ice Lions with a big problem; they had no-one to play.
After hearing about their quandary, Canada’s largest quick service restaurant chain, Tim Hortons, which is famous for its coffee and donuts, decided to act.
Realising they needed some help, they called on Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and alternate captain of the Colorado Avalanche, Nathan MacKinnon, for assistance.
Tim Hortons hooked up the Kenya Ice Lions with a trip to Toronto for a game, and Crosby and MacKinnon surprised the players by joining them as teammates.
Aside from the trip to Canada, the Kenyan players were thrilled to be provided with new equipment, provided by CCM, including personalized jerseys at each player’s locker. That, plus the prospect of playing another team, was overwhelming.
“It’s a dream to be in Canada,” captain Ben Azegere told his teammates in the locker room during the video shared by Tim Hortons. “To play our first game in full gear, it’s all amazing.”
Seeing Crosby and MacKinnon turn up, proved to be an emotional moment for some of the team.
“Seeing my favorite player (Sydney Crosby) come through the door wearing our jersey, I felt like I was in heaven,” Azegere said.
But the Kenya Ice Lions weren’t the only ones surprised, as the Canadian duo were left impressed by the African team’s talent.
“I didn’t 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.”
Tim Hortons are going to help fund Kenya’s youth hockey league, so there will be many more games in the days ahead.
“That’s the best part about the game, is how it reaches so many people,” Crosby said. “Even in a place like Kenya, where you wouldn’t think that there’s even ice.”
If you would like to support the Kenya Ice Lions, you can do so via their GoFundMe page.