BRAMPTON, ON. — In September of 2015, the Brampton Beast announced an exhibition game against the National Hockey team of India, a monumental announcement in the Hockey World, as the Beast would be hosting India as they play their first game against a professional team. Team India Head Coach, Adam Scherlip who used to work for the New York Islanders wanted a new challenge, he embraced the challenge of expanding hockey to other parts of the world where it isn’t as prominent and known as it is around Europe and North America along with that Former NHLer Donald Brasher’s company “Brash87” is the company that makes the sticks that Adam Scherlip’s Team India is using in the game here vs Brampton.
On October 9th, 2015, a game that no one thought was possible came to fruition, Team India stepped on the ice at the Powerade Centre in Brampton, Ontario for their first game against a professional team, a long way from home, an event that took a lot of time and patience to work out, but it happened. The Beast and the city of Brampton were very proud to be able to host such an event. Hockey fans didn’t miss the opportunity to be a part of history.
The Beast honoured Team India very nicely before the game by having the players come out to their name being called over the PA, to huge ovations from the Brampton faithful, a first for the national team players and surely a moment they will never forget. After team India came out, the Brampton Beast hit the ice to an ovation as well. As the teams lined up at their respective blue lines, three young singers sang the Indian national anthem as well as the Canadian anthem. Following the anthems, the respective captains of Team India and the Brampton Beast lined up at centre ice for the ceremonial puck drop.
The teams lined up for the inaugural faceoff of the first period to mark the beginning of a new era in Indian Ice Hockey. The Brampton Beast scored five quick goals which resulted in a mix of both teams, which is a big opportunity for players of both teams to learn new things about their new teammates for the night and have some fun with their new teammates. The periods were high scoring however the Team India players started to settle in during the second period when the nerves wore down. They were able to showcase some of their individual skill to the fans and to everyone on the ice; they seemed to have some new found chemistry with their new teammates.
The Brampton Beast scheduled a nice intermission showing as two different groups performed traditional Indian dances, the crowd ate it up as it is something different that you typically don’t see at a hockey game.
The game came to an exhilarating end as team blue stormed back with 2 goals in under a minute to win the game 12-11, an exciting end to a fantastic event, the teams shook hands and took a picture altogether at centre ice before Team India players skated around the ice with an Indian flag taped to a hockey stick, waiving it around proudly to the joy of the crowd.
After the game I had the opportunity to ask Team India head coach Adam Sherlip a few questions, Sherlip said “It was just good fun, I mean, you can’t really do much coaching to be honest, it’s just rolling the lines, joking around with the guys and just making sure they’re all having a good time, and so if they are then I am”, when I asked him about the feeling in the locker room before game time, Sherlip said “I just wanted to remind the guys to have fun, it’s hockey, it’s a fun game, there’s no systems that we have to prepare for, we put this team together in a week and gave them as much ice time as we could, I just reminded them to stay between the puck and the goalie and to keep their feet moving, just simple hockey stuff and to work hard every shift”. Coach Sherlip emphasized that they’re confident that this game will open some eyes as to expanding the game in south Asia and mentioned the possibility of a India Ice Hockey Woman’s team in the future at some point.
This event took lots of planning, lots of hard work which led to its success, the Beast and Team India gained exposure through this game and through the process of setting everything up. The Brampton Beast did a fantastic job of ensuring that this event would be something that the players, coaching staff and management of Team India will never forget, a true bookmark in the history of Hockey as the sport continues to successfully grow all around the world.