Derek Mori has been attending Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp since 2006, when his wife sprung the trip on him as a 40th birthday gift. He is here for a seventh straight year and has agreed to blog his experiences for NHL.com.
Derek, who lives in Oakville, Ont. with his wife, Anita, and twin boys, says he's certainly not an ex-pro, but he's not a beginner either. He's been on the team that has won the Gretzky Fantasy Camp Cup four out of the six years he's been here, and he intends to do it again.
Read on to learn more about Derek's experience and what No. 99's camp is all about:
LAS VEGAS -- Once again this camp has exceeded my expectations.
Wayne really knows how to do it right. He improves it and makes sure the customers are happy. We definitely are.
They always want feedback from us, the campers, to know if people had a good time, what they enjoyed, because that plays into whether or not they have another one. Not everyone is always going to be happy, but we're all on holiday here, so you can't complain. We're on holiday, playing hockey, drinking beer, hanging out and we're in Vegas -- do I need to say more.
If I win another championship, it's like a cherry on top of a great trip.
And, you know what, I've got a chance. We won again today, and now we're 3-0 going into the Gretzky Cup Final on Saturday.
It was a tight one, though. We were tied and went to overtime. Guy Carbonneau and Denis Savard were on the team and they were good. I can't believe those guys were 0-2 against us.
We didn't play that well, but we worked on some small things for tomorrow because the pros don't play in the championship. We're all looking forward to it. It's a one game elimination now.
I didn't score today, but I came close in overtime. I was on the ice and my linemate scored, but if he didn't score I would have gotten it. It was a rebound goal, bang-bang, and I was right there to get it, too.
It's a great feeling to win and to get another opportunity to get another Cup, but what I'll take most out of this year's camp is the new friends I've made. There are a lot of first time guys here and guys here for only the second time that I have never had a chance to meet and get to know.
There is also a guy on our team that has been here for seven years and he's never won, so we're trying to win the Gretzky Cup for him. It's the Ray Bourque thing. We want to win it for ourselves, but we want to really win it for him, too.
Thursday night they had a party at Hyde Bar here at the Bellagio and, like every year, they managed to surprise us again. They always try to organize something that is fun and different, which is good because it keeps the energy going and the intrigue up.
Well, Thursday night they were raffling off NHL sweaters that were autographed by the former pros that are here. They put all of our names in the raffle and there were 20 sweaters available, so you had basically a one in three chance to get it.
I didn't get one. That's how good my luck has been here in Vegas. Then I went to play the tables afterwards and I didn't play very well either.
Tonight they've given everyone free time to do what we like, but I'll go up to the hospitality suite, hook up with some guys, go have dinner and probably go to a club. We'll go out in packs, but of course we've got to prepare ourselves for Saturday's big game.
Or, at least our goalie better.
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For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.