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.
Today was the playoffs for us. It was a bit of a tough go for our team as we lost the first game of the day. We had a couple of penalty shots and we couldn't put it in the net and we lost 2-1. It was a good game, fun. It was a long three days for us, a lot of hockey. Our goalie kept us in it during the game, and for the whole tournament really. I definitely have to call him out, he was rock solid. He faces 40 shots in 25 minutes and we get 10 and have to get two in. We put some pressure on ourselves.
I had a couple of great rushes today. Pros don't play on the last day, so I stole the puck and went in tight three times. Their goalie got me with a paddle save in the air on a shot that had no reason to be stopped. I mean, the net was empty. It was a game-saver. I hit a post on another shot. I played a minute and a half of the last two minutes, and my legs were done. I didn't have another half minute in them.
I stuck around and watched the games afterward; it's great hockey and you're never disappointed when you see friends win. I've become friends with some guys the past three years and some of them were on the winning team. I was as happy for them as if I had won it.
The two top-ranked teams ended up in the final, and it went to the shootout. The winning team had to make a goal on the third shot just to tie it and then they won two shots later.
The award ceremony is tonight, and Wayne does a fantastic job. Sometimes they'll have some musical guests, friends of Wayne's, so you never know who will show up. It's a four-hour event. Traditionally, a couple years ago, they would do the signings with the pros during the award ceremony, but Wayne wanted to spend more time with everyone, so the signing is on Friday morning now and the camp doesn't really end until around noon Friday. It gives everyone a chance to relish in it.
Denis Savard's team was the winning team, so they got the Gretzky Cup poolside. I got pictures with him, and Walter Gretzky is down there. I mean there are 16 guys on the winning team and there are 50 guys down there happy that everyone just had a great time.
I'm already thinking about next year. I mean, I miss my family and it's been a long two weeks of travelling, but I'm equally sad to go. I have so many great new friends now, from my teammates to guys you meet from the other teams at different activities, plus guys I keep seeing from coming back and becoming closer to them. Plus, you become closer to some of the pros as well. Denis Savard is my favorite uncle. He's the guy I would call if I needed to know how to talk to my kids about stuff. I mean, he's that good a guy and super-personable. Those are the people you connect to at this camp.
It sounds weird, but I'm already thinking about next year. I haven't played a lot of hockey in the last few months, and now I'm thinking next year I have to start training for this camp because it is a lot of hockey. It's a lot of competitive hockey too, no floating around; our coach, Cap Raeder, wouldn't allow that.
I'm absolutely excited to come back.