It was April 27, a Saturday night, when HMCS Regina was alongside in Muscat, Oman, for a port visit during Operation Artemis.
While many Canadians were watching playoff hockey on Hockey Night in Canada back at home, HMCS Regina had their own version going on: Hockey Night in Oman.
Oman is known for its beautiful beaches and hot weather. But ice hockey? Not so much. Yet to our surprise, ice hockey not only exists in Oman, but is alive and well.
In over 30 degree heat, HMCS Regina’s hockey team made their way to an ice hockey rink called “Fun Zone” in Muscat to play against an expat team called the Wadi Dogs, and the Oman national ice hockey team, the Khanjars.
The game was organized by PO2 Tom Orlowski, a Marine Technician onboard Regina, and Aaron Grimley, a member of the expat team in Muscat. It was thanks to Mr. Grimley that Regina had the privilege to play against the Oman national team.
The Oman national hockey team was founded in 2014, but it originally started because of the Canadian expat community in Oman.
“Back in 2008, we saw a group of Canadians playing here once a week,” said Ibrahim Galadiri, a player on the Oman national team. “We bought some hockey equipment and decided to join them, and day by day we got more players. We decided to make our own team, and then the government decided to support us in 2014.”
The team is an associate member of the International Ice Hockey Federation, plays against other Gulf countries, and participates annually in the Challenge Cup of Asia.
“It’s fantastic to see how hockey has grown around the world,” said LS Eric Johnston during intermission. “To play in Oman in the Middle East, it’s amazing.”
“I never imagined in my life that I would be playing hockey anywhere else but Canada,” added LS Evan Lawrence. “Playing hockey while on operation in Oman, I think that’s pretty cool.”
Regina lost 5-3 against the Oman national team, and 7-2 against the Wadi Dogs expat team.
Regina’s hockey team looks forward to returning to Oman one day to continue building upon the newly formed relationships between the Wadi Dogs and the Khanjars. At a time when the world seems to want to create a further divide between people, cultures, and religions – that was not the case during Hockey Night in Oman.
“We can use sports to bridge relations between two different nations,” said PO2 Orlowski. “Sports bring people together.”
Regina is currently on Operation Artemis, the Canadian Armed Forces’ ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations in the Middle Eastern and East African waters.