January 21, 2015 12:42 am

Hurricanes puck travels the planet

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LETHBRIDGE – It’s the new kid on the inanimate object globe-trotting scene, but a Lethbridge Hurricanes puck is already giving the famous travelling gnome a run.

“The first trip for the puck was May, 2014,” says it’s owner, Kathy Hong. “It went backpacking in Europe with me and the first stop was in Venice, Italy.”

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Hong, who works as a marketing and game day assistant for the Hurricanes, says it was her bosses idea for her to pack the puck on her travels. She took on the challenge and now the puck has pictures with world famous landmarks such as the leaning tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum in Rome.

“People would come up and they’re like ‘oh, can I feel it, I’ve never held one before'” says Hong. “It’s a lot of Europeans mostly who have never held a hockey puck so it’s a great conversation starter.”

It’s most famous encounter came in the lone picture Hong has of herself with the puck. It’s a shot of Hong, the puck and Pope Francis following a service at the Vatican.

“We started hopping the fences to get as close to the Pope as we could and eventually we made it right up to the front, basically as close as we could get and I took a selfie with the Pope and the puck,” remembers Hong.

When Hong planned a trip to the World Junior Hockey Championships in Toronto in December, there was no doubt her travel companion was coming, “it was probably the first thing I packed,” she says, laughing.

And the experience of watching Canada claim the tournament title live, stands out as one of her most cherished memories.

“Nothing beats watching Canada claim gold at the World Juniors on home soil. I saw a lot of really cool places in Europe, but that was probably the top of the list,” she says.

For all it’s done, one place the puck has never been is on the ice. But Hong says there are still plenty of travels to come for her and the disc.

“If it can play a hockey game in Europe or in Asia or Central or South America, wherever there might be hockey for whatever random reason, I’m not opposed to it by any means. It’s just another experience for the puck.”

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