Laura Shantora Nelles
(ISN) – Santa’s job may seem a little thankless during the ramp up to the holiday season, but it’s hard not to recognize the big man – or, in this case, men – in red for keeping things merry and bright at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Friends Bryce Sutherland, Anthony Donohue, Andrew Howarth Jeff Pye, who all hail from Burlington, Ont., were a hit with fans, staff and volunteers when they attended the Denmark vs. Sweden game on Dec. 27 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto dressed in festive Santa suits.
Sutherland, who spent two years studying in Copenhagen, inspired his buddies to jump on the Denmark bandwagon.
“We wanted to cheer for the underdogs,” says Sutherland. There was no late Christmas gift for the Danes though, as Sweden won 5-1.
Pye attended the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., but the others were enjoying their first World Juniors experience.
Donohue was enthused. “It’s awesome – better than a Leafs game. Leafs games are all business,” he says. “And (this has) been a good game.”
Howarth echoed Donohue. “There’s a good atmosphere here.”
And as for the Santa costumes? “We did the Santa 5K run, so we all had the suits already,” says Donohue. “It’s Christmas, and they’re the same colours as Denmark, so it worked.”
Fans were very receptive of the Santa suit idea, stopping to chat and snap photos with the gents, who were happy to oblige. The group was even stopped by a fan who spoke Danish. “He taught us how to say Santa in Danish,” says Sutherland. “It’s Julemanden.”
After Saturday’s experience, the group is hoping to come back to the tournament for another shot at seeing their adopted country play.
“We’re hoping to come back for the gold medal game,” says Donohue, “between Canada and Denmark!”