The Ukrainian hockey team will face four prairie university teams

The Huskies from the University of Saskatchewan, dinosaurs from the University of Calgary, golden bear of the University of Alberta and the University of Manitoba Bisons will host the Ukrainian national hockey team in late December and early January.

The games were organized to give players an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming Winter World University Games, while raising funds for Ukrainian refugees and war-torn communities back home, says the West Division of the Canadian college hockey.

Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Canada/Ukraine Foundation, which will distribute the majority of the funds to Save the Ukrainian Hockey Dreama foundation run by the Ukrainian Hockey Federation to enable the continuity of player development, even in times of war.

Ukraine U25 hockey team goalkeeper Savva Serdiuk hopes he can help rebuild the destroyed arenas and allow his country’s young players to return to the game.

Photo: Radio-Canada

Playing hockey in the context of war

In Ukraine, most men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave the country without special permission.

The Canadian tour offers them a rare opportunity to focus on hockey without the constant danger of conflict.

Savva Serdiuk is a goalkeeper for the Ukrainian team. For him, playing hockey in Ukraine in the context of war is synonymous with challenge.

My team trains almost every day without water and sometimes without electricity. So it’s quite difficult for ushe says.

“It’s kind of an escape for me because hockey is probably one of the best things in my life. When I come to practice every morning, I feel like I’m in a safe place. »

A quote from Savva Serdiuk, goalkeeper of the Ukraine U25 hockey team.

Since the beginning of the war, the arenas and skating rinks of several cities of the country, such as Donetsk, Kherson or Mariupol, are no longer accessible or have been completely destroyed.

Savva Serdiuk says she’s motivated to play against Canadian teams and is trying to keep her goals clean.

Ukrainian U25 hockey players.

When war broke out in Ukraine, some professional hockey players had to trade their stick for a gun.

Photo: Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation

Assembling and preparing a team for international competition in the midst of war is not easy, but the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation wants to show the world that the country is persistent and strong.

For the head coach of the Ukrainian team, Vadym Shakhraychuk, these meetings are a historic moment. My players have never played against Canadian trained teamshe specifies.

Alexander Slatvytska.

The General Manager of the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation, Aleksandra Slatvytska, hopes to welcome Canadian hockey teams to kyiv, Ukraine very soon after the war ends and the arenas are rebuilt.

Photo: Radio-Canada

For the General Director of the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation, Alexander Slatvytskathe conflict should not put a brake on the practice of hockey in his country.

Children don’t understand war. To protect their psychological health, it was really important to give them the opportunity to continue playing hockey.she indicates.

Brandin Côte is head coach of the Huskies from the University of Saskatchewan, for him, these games will also be a learning opportunity for the players of the Canadian teams.

When the Ukrainian team is here, we will have the opportunity to talk to their players to better understand what they have been through or what they are going through at a family or sporting level. It will be a very beneficial experience for our playershe believes.

Same story for the head coach of the golden bear from the University of Alberta, Ian Herberwho intends to learn lessons from this meeting with the Ukrainian team.

Coming to the rink I realize how lucky we are every day to have electricity, water and a safe environment and how important those little things we take for grantedhe said.

After their training in Canada, the Ukrainian team will participate in the World University Games, which will take place from January 12 to 22, 2023 in Lake Placidin the state of New York in the USA.

Schedule of meetings:

University of Saskatchewan: Friday, December 30, 2022, 6:00 p.m. MT (Merlis Belsher Place)

University of Calgary: Monday, January 2, 2023, 7:00 p.m. MT (Father David Bauer Arena)

University of Alberta: Tuesday, January 3, 2023, 7:00 p.m. MT (Clare Drake Arena)

University of Manitoba: Monday, January 9, 2023, 7:00 p.m. CT (Canada Life Centre)

With information from Karel HOUDE-HEBERT

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