TAMPA - If there was ever any doubt whether hockey dads are some of the most committed people around, there isn’t anymore.
Pera Lehtera and Bjoern Gunnarsson are shining examples.
Pera lives in Helsinki, Finland and works part-time for a company that streams junior hockey games online so parents don’t have to travel around the country to see their kids play. It’s a fitting job because Pera relies on the same service to watch his son, Jori, play in the NHL. On gameday, Pera sets an alarm for 2 a.m. to watch the games.
“I’m half-retired, so it’s easy for me to watch the games,” Pera says. “I go to sleep at 9 p.m. when he has a game and I wake up about 2 o’clock to watch him. After the game, I can sleep two or three hours more.”
It’s a similar story for Bjoern Gunnarsson.
A construction worker for 40 years, Bjoern gets about three hours of sleep before waking up at 3 a.m. in Sweden to watch Carl play.
“I’ve followed him from the beginning, from when he was a little guy to where he is now,” Bjoern says. “It’s my duty to do that and I like to support him. After the game, we always send a text to each other to talk about the game, just about the small things.”
One of the reasons why the Dad’s Trip is so unique is stories like these. Now, rather than seeing their sons from half-a-world away, Pera and Bjoern get a rare opportunity to watch in person… and in the same time zone.
“It’s very special to watch him live,” Bjoern said. “But it’s also nice to meet all the other dads here and talk to them. This (trip) has been very special.”