Chelsea Piers Connecticut, or CPCT as those in the Know are calling it, has been open just shy of two months and this weekend is already anticipated to be a huge draw for the facility. On Saturday, 10,000 people are expected to be moving in and out of the building throughout the day for the Hands for Life Hands-Only CPR event, but that's not all.
On Wednesday night, Stamford became host to the Chinese Women's National Ice Hockey Team. The team will be training at CPCT with a Connecticut native in goal for roughly seven days as they prepare to play qualification games for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The team will participate in three exhibition games open to the public over the course of the weekend.
"It's a little bit different," said Sun Rui, 30, Captain of Team China. "The rinks and [facility] are very clean. Much more professional. With swimming and gymnastics also in one spot."
Rui said the team was on a flight for 15 hours before getting in at approximately 11 p.m. and waking up the next morning ready to practice for a couple of hours. The games, which beginning Friday afternoon, will take place as follows all at CPCT's ice rinks:
- On Friday, August 24 at 3:30pm, Team China will face NLGH U19
- On Saturday, August 25 at 8pm, Team China will face Mid Fairfield CT Stars U19
- And on Sunday, August 26 at 1:30pm, Team China will face NJ Colonials.
Following the games here, the team will move on to Hartford and then Boston, for a trip totaling nine days.
Emily Yue, 14, a goalie and Guilford native, will be joining the team as well. Initially, she caught the eyes of Chinese coaches when she was 11 and was invited to a tryout in Toronto last year. Hockey players with Chinese heritage are in short order, Yue said, with only 400 registered players in the country.
"I trained with [Team China] on winter, spring and summer break," Yue said. "It's a lot different than my club team because of the language barrier. I'm not fluent in Chinese. But, in hockey, everybody speaks the same language on the ice."
Yue said the team is a bit older than she's played with before, but will look to their wisdom and years of skill already accumulated to better herself.
"They've already learned more, so it's good," Yue said."Hopefully soon, this year, I will be able to...help them get to the Olympics. These games are really fun."
The exhibition games will be open to the public this weekend, though a $3 donation is suggested to help support the Mid-Fairfield Youth Hockey Association. Ticket donations can be made at the rink entrance.