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Meet Esbjerg, the first European hockey team at Burnaby's Pat Quinn Classic

It's the first-ever trip to Canada for EIK U16, joining the annual Sport Burnaby showcase alongside 59 total teams, including 19 from the United States.
Meet the Esbjerg Ice Hockey Club, whom, from Denmark, will be the first-ever European team to compete at Burnaby's annual Pat Quinn Classic, Dec. 27-31, 2023.

Nearly 60 teams will face off in Burnaby starting tomorrow, Dec. 27, for the 2023 Pat Quinn Classic.

And fans in attendance this year will notice a new team with a lot of sponsors sprawled across their beautiful yellow and blue sweaters.

The Esbjerg U16 Ice Hockey Club (EIK) has made the near 7,500 km journey from Denmark in accepting the invitation as the first European team to participate at the annual tournament.

They are one of 20 total international clubs. The other 19 are from the United States: Alaska, Washington, California, Colorado and Nebraska.

EIK's arrival all started by "coincidence," said Jesper Brieuc Bærentsen in a news release, who is leading the Danish delegation in Burnaby this week.

"[...] we talked with a Danish guy, who used to live in Vancouver and he told us about the tournament,” he explained. "The people we have been in contact with have been so nice and friendly, and the Pat Quinn Classic looks to be a great tournament."

This is the first trip to Canada for EIK as Bærentsen said the club is used to competing in other European countries. However, he believes the teens are up to the challenge of competing on North American ice.

"It is very exciting to face Canadian and American teams as the hockey style is a little different from what we have in Europe," added Bærentsen.

"We hope it will be some good games and that our kids well make new friends."

It appears the red carpet will also be rolled out for the Danes players as Pat Quinn Classic organizers have scheduled a "Denmark Feature Game" on Thursday, Dec. 28.

EIK will take on the Pacific Sea Devils U17 white prep squad at 8:30 p.m. at Bill Copeland Sports Centre — located at 3676 Kensington Ave.

Vancouver Canucks alumni and fellow Denmark countryman Jannik Hansen will perform the ceremonial puck drop.

It'll be the second of three round-robin games for EIK in the U17 Integrated Flight 2 division. All games at the Pat Quinn Classic are free for the public to attend.

"We are thrilled to welcome the team from Denmark to the Pat Quinn Classic and to Burnaby," said Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley.

"This interest shows how the tournament continues to expand as an important event on the annual hockey calendar.  We look forward to seeing the Danes and all the participating teams demonstrate their skills on the ice in this annual celebration of hockey."

Meanwhile, seven teams from Burnaby are hoping to capture the trophy on home ice this week:

  • Burnaby MHA Female U15A
  • Burnaby MHA U15 A1 Tier 1
  • Burnaby Winter Club HCSS Academy
  • Burnaby Winter Club U13 A1
  • BWC Academy U17 white
  • BWC Academy U17 gold
  • U13 A1 Burnaby Minor

For more information and a complete schedule, you can visit the Pat Quinn Classic website.