Big Men Down Under: Sawyer and Harvey Play in Australia
(RAPID CITY, SD) - Last month, re-signed Rush defenseman Justin Sawyer and former Rush forward Kevin Harvey represented not just the Rapid City Rush, but their native Canada in a charity tournament in Australia. Both gentlemen played in the 2014 Douglas Webber Stop Concussions International Ice Hockey Series, where Team Canada and Team USA play for the Douglas Webber Cup in a five-game series.
"It has been incredible. I can't believe all of the fans that are here and the resulting turnout, it's been amazing to see," said Sawyer, his first time playing in series. "Kevin [Harvey] knew the person running the tournament and spoke very highly of me to him. Next thing you know I get to represent my home country playing the sport that I love."
This is the third running of the tour, which saw a stop in New Zealand in its first year (2011), and has been in Australia for the last two (2013, 2014; no tour was played in 2012). This year's tour consisted of five games played in four of Australia's major cities: Melbourne, Perth (two games), Brisbane, and Sydney. Each game in the series was sold out, and drew an average attendance of 12,500. The tour features American and Canadian players from the NHL, AHL, ECHL, CHL, NCAA and European League. It is held in tandem with Stop Concussions, a charity created and operated by Keith and Wayne Primeau, former NHLers that coached both teams (Keith coached Team USA, while his brother Wayne coached Team Canada). Team Canada won the first two tours and looked to take a third straight, but lost an early 2-0 series lead to Team USA, who rallied to win the last three games, the final one in OT 4-3, to take a 3-2 series victory.
"The biggest shock for me was the crowd in Perth," added Sawyer of the fan experience. "Two nights in a row they were sold out with about 13,000 people. They were all on their feet and screaming, and they're very well educated in the game of hockey as well.
"It was such an honor to put on a Team Canada sweater, even if it was just for exhibition," concluded Sawyer on his experience. When asked by Fox Sports Australia's Steve White if he could take on a kangaroo, Sawyer replied: "I don't know really. They're so wiry and their legs are so big, I don't think I'd win."
To see Justin's interview with Fox Sports Australia's Steve White, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?vRZXPXEIqyig
To see Kevin's interview with Fox Sports Australia's Steve White, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v_lo5DMMs6qo
**Information regarding the tour courtesy of Steve White-FSAustralia, AIHL
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