While millions of viewers had their eyes glued to the Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the eventual winners Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, a feeling of fear and sadness was rolling through the city of Cornwall, Ontario.
See, as Sidney Crosby was raising the Prince of Wales trophy as Eastern Conference champion, 90 students/players of the Ontario Hockey Academy saw their on ice dreams suffer a major setback.
OHA was on fire and burning quickly.
Cornwall’s fire Chief, Pierre Voisine, seems to think it had been started in one of the dorm units that houses the students (no official confirmation as of yet). As the flames continued to rage and get worse an evacuation was called. Over 100 people, students and staff alike, spent the night in the Ramada Inn down the street. No one was hurt.
Here’s where things get sad and tricky.
Belongings were lost, hockey equipment has been lost and maybe most importantly, passports have been burned.
Most of the students are European and classes were supposed to finish up today. Flights had been schedule to fly out as early as this Saturday. Of course, I don’t know which players are still here but just taking a gander at the men’s Major Midget AA team roster, it includes students from the UK, Australia, Israel, Belgium, and Germany. That’s just for one team! Luckily for UK students, the British Consulate in Ottawa has already been in contact with OHA to see how they can help in speeding things up. However, it’s not clear just yet about the others. Hopefully as the day goes on today we’ll get some kind of idea of what’s happening on the international front.
For those that don’t know what the Ontario Hockey Academy is, it’s a high performance academic-athletic private school. Basically high school and an awful lot of hockey. They prepare you for the University or College route to the big time. It’s a big thing internationally because students from all over the world can come and learn from hockey’s best: Canadians.
While the fire has been put out and I’m sure an investigation has been put underway, thoughts now turn to what can we do to help. If you’re looking to start fundraising, collecting items for care packages, helping to replace items and what not, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can get the word out. I have a pretty big reach locally and in the UK that I’m sure could be useful to help these kids get their dreams back on track.
Ontario Hockey Academy. What happened has happened and now it’s time for the rest of hockey’s family to step in and have your backs. This won’t keep the Mavericks down.