QUEBEC CITY — If Mykyta Staskevich necessary a further reminder of what his boys hockey group of Ukrainian refugees was playing for back dwelling, it came in the poignant type of the nation’s flag unfolded in the locker area prior to its game against Romania on Monday.
In blue, representing the sky, have been the nicknames of a player’s father and the father of a player’s pal, who have died on the front lines in the war with Russia. In yellow, representing the ground, have been the nicknames of two of the player’s fathers — such as Staskevich — who are nevertheless fighting.
Speaking in Ukrainian, Staskevich’s eyes welled as he supplied an answer to what the flag symbolized.
“He desires Ukraine to win the war and to quit the war,” Ukrainian Selects coach Evgheniy Pysarenko stated, translating his team’s captain. “Peace.”
The flag was brought to Pysarenko by a single of the player’s parents, and served as each motivation and a poignant reminder of why the group is competing in the International Peewee Tournament in Quebec City. The Selects are additional than just a hockey group of 11- and 12-year-olds. They’ve come to represent a symbol of peace and a far additional hopeful future for a battle-torn nation practically a year given that Russia invaded Ukraine.
“You can consider a kid, he saw the name of his father, and he begin to cry. And the complete group come to him and give major hug. It was quiet a couple of minutes,” Pysarenko stated, following a two- victory more than Team Romania Wolves.
“It was additional than a hockey game,” he stated. “This game we devoted to these men and women.”
Tears turned to smiles by the finish of the game, when Ivan Bilozerov capped the scoring by converting a rebound with 61 seconds remaining. And the excitement in the locker area grew when word got about that the Selects have been boarding a bus headed for Montreal, exactly where the group will be the particular guests of the Canadiens for their game against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday evening.
One of the team’s dreams was obtaining a possibility to attend an NHL game in the course of what is now expanding into a 3-week keep in Canada.
The Selects extended their keep by beating Romania in an elimination game. Maksym Kukharenko scored a energy-play target and Matvii Kulish earned the shutout (shot totals are not tracked at the tournament).
The Ukrainians, who have been celebrated about town given that their arrival some two weeks ago, are 3 wins from clinching a spot in the tournament Class AA championship on Sunday. They sophisticated to play the Vermont Flames Academy on Friday.
“It’s a particular story, particular youngsters,” Pysarenko stated of the resilience his players have shown. “They’re a lot additional grown up than absolutely everyone else.”
The Selects blamed nerves and the stress of playing in front of a close to-capacity crowd of 18,000 blue-and-white flag-waving fans as a issue in their slow begin to a tournament-opening three-1 win more than the Boston Junior Bruins. Ukraine overcame a 1- deficit by scoring 3 occasions in the final 5 minutes.
On Monday, the Selects had pre-game feelings to overcome.
This time, they got an early lead with Kukharenko scoring four:37 into the ten-minute initially period off a shot from the left point that appeared to deflect in off a Romanian defender. The Selects weren’t in a position to exhale till Bilozerov scored by slapping in a shot from the proper circle.
The Ukrainians after once more celebrated with a victory lap, although paying tribute to their supporters, who produced up a majority of the fans who filled about half of the decrease bowl of the arena.
A smaller sized contingent of Romanian fans have been gathered in a single section, and produced their presence identified with chants, songs and the banging of cowbells.
Tournament officials do not release attendance figures, but the crowd on Monday was nevertheless far bigger than the 20 or so men and women Selects forward Zahar Kovalenko stated he was utilised to playing in front of in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian’s presence has placed a bigger worldwide spotlight on the 63-year-old tournament with the war in Ukraine displaying indicators of after once more escalating. The Selects are regarded as symbol of peace for Ukraine and hope for a much better future, and they’ve merited mention from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The matchup of teams from bordering nations featured quite a few coincidences. Romania is exactly where the Selects held coaching camp, for the reason that that is exactly where Pysarenko now lives, and started holding camps for players soon after watching lots of youth fleeing Ukraine with hockey gear in tow.
And the Romanian team’s presence in the tournament stems from Pysarenko, who suggested to the nation’s hockey officials to seek sending a group to the Quebec City tournament 4 years ago.
“I know these youngsters and I saw them crying soon after the game and I was so sorry for them for the reason that I operate with them, as well. And know, personally them, and parents and coach,” Pysarenko stated. “But the circumstance was we require this win possibly additional than them.”