CORNER BROOK Spending six months of his life travelling across Canada and the United States donning the goalie gear for a game of hockey just for the fun of it.
That’s what Minnesota native Jeff Keacher has on his plate during his Stopping in Every State Pucks in Every Province Tour. On June 20 of this year, the 29-year-old software designer and consultant embarked on a 30,000 mile journey to visit every American state and every Canadian province and play hockey in all of them as a goaltender.
Keacher has already conquored 24 states and has already donned the pads in most of the Canadian provinces, the past couple of days seeking a game of hockey in Prince Edward Island before catching the Marine Atlantic ferry Friday night to make the trek to Newfoundland and Labrador. He will make Newfoundland his home until leaving for Nova Scotia — the last stop of the journey in Canada — on Monday.
He is expecting to wrap up his whirlwhind road trip in his 2011 Subaru Outback in Minnesota just in time for Christmas.
By no means is Keacher a graduate of an elite hockey program, which makes his story interesting. A self-described computer nerd, he never played hockey like other Minnesotans when he was a young boy. He always felt like it was his birthright to embrace the game of hockey, so in 2004 in his mid-20s, he signed up as a goalie in an adult beginner’s program and the love affair grew.
His original plan for the journey also grew as his focus went from just playing in all Canadian provinces to adding the 50 states to the list.
Keacher, speaking from Charlottetown Tuesday afternoon, said he is really enjoying getting to meet Canadians from across the land and he’s been pleased with the warm response he’s received since arriving in Canada.
“People have been just fantastic,” Karcher said. “In Western Canada when I was looking for places to stay I would find games and people would offer me connections to other people in other provinces. When I moved back around to eastern Canada and worked my way up through Ontario and Quebec and so forth people have been just fantastic again. They’ve been wonderful helping me find games, finding places to stay and things to do.”
He feels fortunate to be able to take six months off to do the trip, but he also had to save up some cash for the past 18 months to ensure he could afford to make it happen. He structured his consulting contracts with a six-month gap to free up his schedule and began his journey as a masked road warrior.
“It’s really not that expensive. It kind of depends on how you run the numbers,” he said of the pricetag that comes with the experience. “In terms of cost directly attibutable to the trip, I’d say probably about $15,000 or so, but the big cost is really the income I’m not making now where I’m not working.”
Keacher was driving a 1998 Subaru Outback when he began thinking about the trip, but he was worried about the old clunker surviving a long journey and he didn’t want to end being stranded in the middle of nowhere if he could avoid it. He got rid of the old one and invested in a 2011 Subaru Outback for the journey and the speedometer speaks volumes of his itinerary since June 20.
“I brought it to the dealer before the warranty expired on it and they were kind of shocked ... they said it was the highest mileage they’ve seen on a 2011 Subaru Outback,” he said of the 30,000 kilometres racked up on the new wheels.
He is expected to arrive in Port aux Basques Friday night with hopes of securing a game of hockey during his short stint in the province. He is looking at trying to get a game of hockey in Corner Brook for Saturday or Sunday if at all possible.
He won’t be leaving until he’s done so and, more importantly, he wants to experience the great hospitality of Newfoundlanders that he’s heard so much about since he arrived in Canada.
For more information contact Keacher at firstname.lastname@example.org.