Taking hockey to Mongolia

A B.C. hockey coach is taking Canada's national game to Mongolia.

The country has only 13 rinks – all of them outdoors – and just 653 registered hockey players, but that's not stopping Nathan Leslie.

Leslie travelled more than 8,000 kilometres with his brother and a film crew, to share his love of the game.

Leslie coaches at Britannia Hockey Academy in Vancouver and played Junior-A hockey in his youth, as well as a few stints in Switzerland's National League.

The group raised $22,000 to make the trip, bringing with them 10 bags of hockey gear and more than 50 pairs of skates.

Starting in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, they visited seven of the country's rinks – and received a warm welcome.

Leslie said Mongolians would sometimes arrive on horseback to watch practices or bring them lunch.

"We had a group one day wait five hours in -25C to -29C weather, hoping that we would show up and get on the ice," Leslie told CTV.

He was impressed by their determination to learn the sport.

"They're tough. They're resilient. They're as passionate as we are," he said.

Now, Leslie hopes to spread his love of hockey to even more countries. Next up are China and New Zealand.

"Hockey is the vehicle that has been able to take us around the world, and (I) just cherish that and enjoy it," he said.

– with files from CTV Vancouver


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