Hayden Fast, a hockey player from Niverville, is about to start a new hockey season in Sweden.
After coming off a decent season with the St. Vital Victorias, he was debating whether he should call it quits on hockey and go to school.
Fast says his plans changed when he got the opportunity to go overseas.
“I figured this was my only chance, and I might as well seize the moment. So I ended up playing for their Division 2 Pro Team.”
He got the opportunity through his agent, who told him there was a team looking for Canadian imports for their next season.
“He's like, ‘this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you. Especially where you played last year, it's kind of hard to make that jump. But if you want it, there's a spot open.’ So I was like, 'might as well give it a shot,' and it's been amazing.”
When he told his family about his plan to go to Sweden, they were initially shocked, but very supportive.
“One day I just came upstairs from my dungeon basement room and I said, ‘I think I'm gonna go to Sweden next year.’ And of course, my family's all on board with it so they were really pumped for me, but it was definitely a shell shocker.”
Fast has now been in Sweden for a week, and says the language barrier is a lot better than he thought it would be, as most people know English in Sweden.
“The team speaks very good English, which was very helpful. For me, the signage is the probably the hardest part. It's figuring out what the signs and the words mean, and the bus stops and all that.”
He says playing hockey in Sweden has been incredible.
“The league's a lot older as it's a pro league, so a lot of big boys and very fast-paced. It’s good hockey out here.”
Fast says it doesn’t feel real just yet.
“It hasn't kicked in yet. It's still feeling like I'm on vacation. I think once we start getting into the regular season is when it's going to kick in.”
Canada and Sweden are pretty even when it comes to their love of hockey. Fast says he has gotten a pretty strong response from the people there, and can feel the excitement around his team.
“They love their hockey just as much as Canada, if not more.”
With files from Dave Anthony