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 --
It's over, and I'll be heading back home with my fifth Gretzky Cup championship. This was a tight one, too.
My team, known as Team D all week, knocked off Team A by the slim 2-1 margin. Our team was coached by Glen Gretzky, Joe Lama and Marty McSorley
while the opposing team was coached by Walter Gretzky and Charlie Henry.
It really could have gone either way, but I have to give credit to Marty for his pregame pep talk. He spoke about strategy, which I thought was extremely helpful for our cause. He also gave us sound, sage advice on the bench after our shifts.
Marty can coach. We were thrilled to have him behind our bench.
We played two periods and were down 1-0 after the first. But, I struck for our first goal in the second period to tie it up at 1-1. It came on a deflection.
The game-winner came off a scramble in front of the net. They pulled their goalie in the final minutes and put some serious pressure on us, but we shut them down and got to enjoy our celebration on the ice.
And, yes, it is very much like the Stanley Cup celebration, except Gary Bettman doesn't present our captain with the Gretzky Cup. Wayne is the one who presents the trophy to us and Joey Moss wore white gloves and carried the trophy onto the ice.
This win is my fifth, but it is particularly gratifying because there are many first-time campers on our team as well as one veteran, Chris Sealy, who has been coming here as long as I have and still hadn't won until this year. We kept telling him he was a jinx and nobody wanted him on their team, but we were thrilled to win this one for him and I was genuinely excited when I saw him raise the Cup over his head.
Everybody was already talking about coming back next year to defend the title. I'll take Chris on my team again. He's no jinx for me.
Tonight we have a Awards Ceremony and Banquet Dinner at the Bellagio. Everyone is pumped.
We head home Sunday and I have so many more stories to tell my family and buddies back home.
Until next year.