BostonBruins.com - Every summer, hundreds of youth hockey players around Boston and New England take part in the Boston Bruins Summer Camps, presented by O.R.G. Packaging.
The summer of 2017 marked the eighth straight year that the camps were held across multiple locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The camps provide players with the opportunity to continue their skill development beyond the hockey season in a positive, fun-filled environment. They teach the kids the value of a strong work ethic on and off the ice.
While the majority of campers are local to New England, there are also many youth players who make the journey from overseas, including a group of three friends from Finland.
Brothers Kaarlo and Arvo Lahti, along with their friend Rafael Salmi, traveled more than 3,000 miles and took an eight-hour flight to take part in a camp at Warrior Ice Arena.
"It's been really nice. The facilities are nice and everything is professional, so it's nice," smiled Arvo.
"On the ice, we've been working on everything, stickhandling, shooting, passing skating, and off the ice, we've been doing some workouts and stretching."
How did they end up at the Bruins' camp, versus one closer to home in Finland?
"We invited our friends who live in America to a camp in Finland, and then this year they wanted to invite us here, so that's how we heard about this," said Kaarlo.
It was an incredible experience for the young Fins.
"It's been really good. It's been amazing," Kaarlo smiled. "I really love the place and the camp is really good and the practices we do, they're really good. Also, off the ice, the practices are very good."
Naturally, they are huge Tuukka Rask fans. And although Rask wasn't back in Boston yet when they took part in camp, the campers got a special surprise visit from Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid.
Special guest appearances often happen throughout the camps.
"That was really cool," smiled Kaarlo. "It's amazing. I play as a defenseman, too, so it's familiar."
McQuaid had skated on the Warrior ice in the morning prior to the campers hitting the ice, and offered some time to answer the kids' questions.
"I just heard five minutes before he came that he was coming, so it was a surprise," said Rafael. "It was really nice having him talk to us about hockey."
McQuaid was glad to take the time.
"I was just emphasizing having fun with what they're doing," said McQuaid. "I think making sure that's first and foremost, and obviously working hard."
"He gave us some advice to have fun and everything, so it was nice," beamed Arvo. "That's the most important thing, to have fun, and it was nice to meet him because he obviously plays in the NHL which is the best league in the world, so it was cool to meet him."
"It's great to see that we're expanding our horizons outside of New England and outside of the States," said McQuaid. "Hockey's becoming more of a worldwide sport, I think now more than ever and it's awesome to see the game growing the way it is."
Video: Adam McQuaid visits campers