Fate Took Antons to Kamloops, then UBC
“The physiotherapists, strength and conditioning coaches and
I work closely together. It is always a team e ort on behalf of
the medical sta to get the players in the best shape possible
to perform at their best,” continues Antons, whose assignments
have included the IIHF U18 World Championship.
“Just being part of a team is rewarding,” he says. “It is fun
traveling with the team and trying to achieve a goal. It is a lot
di erent from regular work and it is a nice change to work with
young, healthy and motivated athletes.”
Young. Healthy. Motivated. All could describe Antons, circa 1995
on a family vacation in Western Canada.
The 15-year-old was set to play for Germany at the World
Under-17 Hockey Challenge and hadn’t been skated all summer,
so when his family’s motorhome rolled through Kamloops and
past the home of the Blazers, the Riverside Coliseum (now known
as the Sandman Centre), he saw an opportunity to hit the ice.
The sta at the front desk told him there was no public skating,
but that he might want to try the arena at nearby Mcarthur
Island Park. So o to McArthur Island the motorhome went.
When it got there, Antons discovered the Blazers were holding a
hockey school and training camp.
“I asked one of the coaches if there was public skating. He told
me that there was none, but if wanted to take part in the hockey
school I could,” Antons recalls.
“I told them that I did not have any equipment with me. He told
me that this was no problem and that I should just show up
tomorrow morning. The next day I showed up in the dressing
room and Blazers had organized all the equipment for me.”
Antons spent three days at the camp, making such an impression
that his mother and father were asked if their son would consider
playing for the Blazers in the future. The next spring, Kamloops
selected the German forward in the second round of the 1996
CHL Import Draft, and a few months later Antons found himself
in the Blazers’ lineup.
“Playing in the WHL was a great learning experience for me,”
says the six-foot-three Dusseldorf native. “Before I came to
Kamloops I knew very little about hockey and life in Canada. I got
to learn lots not only about hockey but also about life in Canada.
Playing in the WHL taught me a lot about hard work, leadership,
dedication and sportsmanship.”
After two seasons with the Blazers, Antons enrolled at UBC.
Education had always been important to his family, and the
aspiring med school student had already taken university courses
during the summer.
“I really enjoyed going to university,” he says. “It is one of those
periods of my life during which I learned a lot and developed as
“During this period I met some of my closest friends. On no other
hockey team or work did I ever play (or) work with people I had
so much in common with,” continues Antons, who was a xture
on UBC’s frontline from 1998 to 2003, and ranks among T-Birds
men’s hockey all-time leaders.
“We all went to school to get a degree and mostly played hockey
because we really liked it. We all knew that very few of us would
be able to play professional hockey after university at a high
enough level to earn a good living. It was a lot of fun to interact
with the other student-athletes and students.”
Today, Antons regularly returns to the land where everything
changed for him. Turns out it’s not just his own destiny in uenced
by that fateful family vacation; His younger brother Jan followed
him to Kamloops, where he has long worked as a trainer with the
“I still have lots of friends in Canada who I love to visit,” Antons
says. “Furthermore, my brother still lives in Kamloops. After my
playing days I got to enjoy a lot more spare time, which I like
to spend skiing and biking. Canada is a beautiful country to do
CANADA WEST YEARBOOK 27