Winter Tour takes Blue Jays to Frontenacs hockey game
KINGSTON, Ont. -- The Toronto Blue Jays kicked off their second visit of the 2014 Winter Tour in Kingston on Friday.
Blue Jays' Steve Delabar, Anthony Gose, Adam Lind, Josh Thole and manager John Gibbons attended a Kingston Frontenacs Ontario Hockey League game after visiting the Canadian Forces Base in Kingston earlier in the day.
In front of a packed arena at the Rogers K-Rock Centre, the Blue Jays joined fans to watch the Frontenacs take on the Oshawa Generals.
Thole, who is a big hockey fan, said he was excited to watch the Frontenacs for the first time.
"I'm a huge hockey fan. I live in Denver and go to tons of Colorado Avalanche games. I'm a big fan, I really am looking forward to it," Thole said. "It will be fun to go see."
"I'm not a big hockey fan, but I do go to some," Delabar said. "I haven't been to many [games], but the one's I have been to have been a lot of fun, so I am excited about it."
The Blue Jays participated in the ceremonial puck drop during the pregame ceremonies and exchanged jerseys with Frontenacs players. They also interacted with fans in between periods.
The Blue Jays watched a back-and-forth battle that saw the hometown Frontenacs defeat the Generals, 9-4.
"I love it, I really didn't know how the whole process worked, but it's been awesome," Thole said. "It's much more physical than I expected and it's like an NHL hockey game, I suppose. It's not much different [than the NHL], the speed of the game and the skill, but as far as how the guys play, it's neat seeing the young guys. This is their dream. I was in a position like this at one time in my life. I really respect what they are doing."
Thole added that he knew the fans were also enjoying the experience.
"The whole place is sold out tonight, the fans love it, and it's really energetic. I suppose the guys would feed off it quite a bit."
After visiting the personnel at CFB Kingston earlier in the day, the tour members reflected on their experience.
Gibbons said the Blue Jays tour was important for communities like Kingston, because it allows players to come to visit the fans.
"It's big. I think the fans enjoy it, and I think the players enjoy it," Gibbons said.
"Around the country, it's probably a good little distance for people to travel, so for us to come to the community, it's really big and pretty nice," said Gose. "People get to enjoy and interact with players which they don't get to do on a normal basis."
Delabar said the experience was great saying, "Some of the fans that can't get to Toronto and watch games, they get to meet some of the players and get to see what we are all about and spark up excitement for the new season."
Thole said visiting the Kingston military base was an enlightening experience.
"They have to leave their family for months and years at a time. That's tough. They all have kids, they all have wives, and that can't be easy. For us, we leave our family for a week and we think we have it bad. It really puts life into perspective."
The Blue Jays continue the Winter Tour on Sunday, as they visit Peterborough for an autograph session at Lansdowne Place.