Army units face off in salute to Korean War veterans

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Article / November 3, 2016 / Project number: 16-1068

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario — Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) are the 2016 Imjin Hockey Classic champions, defeating The Royal 22nd Régiment (R22R) 1-0 in their November 5 matchup.

Who wins and loses is beside the point, however: the Imjin Classic, co-hosted by the Canadian Army and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, is more about commemorating Canada’s role in the Korean War and its close ties with South Korea.

This year was the fourth time the game was played in Canada and the third time the teams met at the Canadian Tire Centre, home arena of the Ottawa Senators. It is a re-enactment of a match-up between The Royal 22nd Régiment, also known as the Vandoos (from the English pronunciation of the number vingt-deux), and Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry that was held on March 11, 1952 in the midst of the Korean conflict.

Members of PPCLI’s 1st Battalion and the 2nd Battalion of R22R carved out a rink on the frozen Imjin River, which flows in a north-south direction and crosses the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea.

The makeshift rink was dubbed Imjin Gardens. The participants divided themselves into four teams and played a round robin tournament that ended in a tie.

A group of expatriate Canadians living in South Korea, who came together in 1998 as the Geckos Hockey Club, organized the first Imjin Hockey Classic to honour the original and introduced the Imjin River Memorial Cup, which is awarded to the winning team.

The event first came to Canada in 2013, the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice and the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Canada. The government of the day declared 2013 the Year of the Korean War Veteran and a game was held on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa as part of the Winterlude festival.

That friendly contest pitted Canadian Armed Forces personnel against members of Parliament and ended in a 12-12 tie.

In 2014, the event moved to Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre where members of R22R and PPCLI faced off just as they had back in 1952. That year marked the centenaries of both units and the R22R (Vandoos) emerged victorious by a score of 7-4.

The R22R (Vandoos) came out on top again in 2015, winning 9-3.

But no matter which team puts the most pucks in the net, the main goal of the event is always achieved: remembering those who served Canada so well in the Korean conflict.

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