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Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp diary

Veteran camper George Donovan chronicles his experiences

by George Donovan / Special to NHL.com

George Donovan is a 44-year-old Canadian who has been to the Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp on multiple occasions. This week, he will serve as a guide through a daily diary of his experiences to all the goings-on at the camp this year, which started Monday and runs through Thursday when the championship team is crowned and awarded the Wayne Gretzky Cup. 

I came to my first camp when I turned 40; it was a bucket-list thing. 

I'm from out East in Moncton, New Brunswick; so it's a bit of a hike here to Las Vegas. But when you have the opportunity to play with Wayne, you take it. You understand the brand, but you don't appreciate the experience. My wife, Carrie, was here the first and second times I came out here, and it was, bar none, the best experience I have had in my entire life -- and I have done a lot of fun things. It's incredible. 

I own a couple of companies, but my primary one is a game company called Gogii Games, which does games for phones and other apps. We have done over 100 games, and we have been around for 10 years. We just actually launched a hockey game because I always wanted to make a hockey game, so we partnered with a company called Hipster Whale that helped us put together Blocky Hockey All-Stars. It's doing really well in the app store, and we are actually launching worldwide in the next couple of weeks on all platforms. 

Tweet from @GeorgeParros: Checked in to the @OfficialGretzky fantasy camp today and they got me using @justinbieber sticks. Try n get em biebs pic.twitter.com/X5CgYZMRfY

I grew up on a farm in Miramichi, New Brunswick, a big salmon fishing area. My dad was a teacher. He certainly taught me the game of hockey. We had a rink in our backyard, the standard Atlantic Canadian thing to do. I had a good relationship with my dad, but we really connected when it came to watching hockey and playing hockey. 

I have a great story from the first time I stepped on the ice here. Wayne Gretzky is on the ice, over by the boards, and he is chatting away. Grant Fuhr is cleaning up the crease and the puck is at center ice kind of waiting for the game to start and I'm like: I've done this in my head 1,000 times, a breakaway on Grant Fuhr. So, I tap my stick, Grant looked up and saw me, and away I went. I don't even remember if I hit the net, but you live these moments as a kid and to live them now, no price can replace that. It's incredible. 

My dad is Tom, he passed 14 years ago. They named the local rink after him and it is cool that my kids can see how much the community rallies around the rink. It was with my dad that I first fell in love with the Edmonton Oilers. 

I remember sitting with my dad, sitting down and watching Edmonton games. They were late for us, four hours plus. My dad was a school teacher and he was very regimented toward books and school, but on a school night, my mom would go to sleep and my dad would let me stay up and watch the games with Edmonton. It was just talent well beyond anything we could imagine. It was the bonding moment we had. I just never had a connection with Mario Lemieux and all the other stars; it was Gretzky. Jari Kurri being here this year is awesome because it was the Gretzky-Kurri-George Donovan line on my hockey rink in our backyard for 10 years. 

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