Arnold Mburu, 19, is a Kenyan architecture student, as well as a hockey player. The first time he stepped onto an ice rink was in his native country, where hockey is not exactly a spectator sport.


Recently, Mburu traveled with 11 of his Kenya Ice Lions teammates to Toronto to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame and play an exhibition game against a team of firefighters. The hockey players also had the chance to meet and play with two of their Canadian peers, including the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby and an alternate captain and center of the Colorado Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon.


“I couldn’t say anything,” said Mburu. “I had no idea. We were all dressed up and because we were a few guys short, they told us they are going to get extra guys. But then Crosby walks in. And MacKinnon’s face is right behind them. And I can’t believe it.”


The trip was organized by Tim Hortons, Canada's largest restaurant chain, who wanted the Kenya Ice Lions to experience what it was like to be a Canadian hockey player. 


“It was just really cool to see the reaction, how pumped they were,” said Crosby. “For us to experience that, we had fun too. That’s what it’s about. Everyone loves the game, and everyone has a different story as to why they love it or how they connect to the game.”


“The first time I played hockey was in 2013,” said Ben Azagree, the founder of the Ice Lions. “That was my first time holding a hockey stick. It was not so good. I felt like I was walking on a soapy floor. But I never give up.”


“I didn’t know what to expect" said MacKinnon. "I was really surprised. But those guys were pretty good, I thought. They never had any instruction, but they could skate and move the puck. They definitely know the game.”