By Charles Duncan
The New York Times sports section Monday featured the Cayman Breakaway hockey team, amazed that a team from the Caribbean headed north this week for their thirteenth trip to the World Pond Hockey Championships.
A small group of Canadians in Cayman have rotated through the team, led by Bill Messer since he started the Breakaway in 2003.
The Breakaway’s first game is set for 9:30 p.m. local time Thursday in New Brunswick.
The thought of a Caribbean team competing in such a tournament seemed inconceivable to the organisers.
Times sports reporter Curtis Rush writes in the Feb. 12 story: “The tournament organizer, Danny Braun, warned Messer in an email that it was frigid up in Canada and that hockey was a very fast, very rough game.
“As he read the email, Messer said, he realized that he had not made it clear to Braun that he was Canadian.
“‘He thinks I’m Caymanian,’” Messer said, laughing as he relived the moment inside a restaurant across from Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach.
“Braun remembers his initial reaction well.
“‘I had a bit of a chuckle thinking this was going to be like the movie ‘Cool Runnings,’ about the Jamaican bobsled team,’ he said in a telephone interview.”
Mr. Messer, 55, told the tournament organiser he had played Senior A hockey in Saskatchewan, and the rest of the team knew what to do on a pair of skates, despite their Caribbean address.
The Cayman Breakaway will go up against more than 100 other teams at the tournament in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. Most of the teams are Canadian or from the north-east United States, but there are a couple from Texas, one from Arizona and a handful of teams from London and Europe.
Mr. Messer said: “It is five pretty tough games on a lake. We have a thrill going up there and representing the Cayman Islands — it is a world championship, so there are teams from all over the world.
“We are playing against 20-year-old guys and older guys like us.”
Breakaway have made it to the playoff round three times. The teams have five members with four playing at a time. ” It used to be something of a game of attrition,” he said, because if one player got hurt and couldn’t play, the team would be disqualified.