Irrespective of the end result within the video games forward, coach Evgheniy Pysarenko is aware of his hockey workforce of younger Ukrainian refugees has already gained.
“That’s what I advised them,” Pysarenko mentioned after the Ukrainian Selects’ 2-0 win over Group Romania on the Worldwide Peewee Event in Quebec Metropolis earlier this week.
What impresses Pysarenko about this assortment of 11- and 12-year-olds cobbled collectively from Ukraine and bordering international locations the place their households fled the Russian invasion shouldn’t be a lot the 2 victories they’ve already posted.
As an alternative, it’s the stoic resilience they’ve displayed — mature past their age, he says — in balancing enjoying a sport whereas buffering the life-and-death realities occurring at dwelling. A few of their fathers and fathers of buddies are in battle; one participant’s father died preventing on the entrance strains.
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In a time of disaster, this workforce has fulfilled Pysarenko’s imaginative and prescient of symbolizing a message of peace and hope he anticipated the boys may assist ship to the world and to these following the match from afar.
“The folks in Ukraine, they ship us messages, thank us, want us good luck, whether or not they undergo with us or assist us. It’s like a bit of coloration of their darkness,” Pysarenko mentioned. “These youngsters carry pleasure.”
The Ukrainians return to the ice on Friday, after they face the Vermont Flames Academy in a Class AA elimination sport. They’d then must win two extra elimination video games on Saturday to be able to advance to play within the championship on Sunday.
Win or lose, the workforce is already scheduled to depart for Europe on Monday. Tough as that could be, the validation for Selects officers is having achieved their goal in offering the boys a quick respite from the troubles at dwelling.
Since arriving in Quebec Metropolis in early February, the Selects have been embraced by the group, touring the town, enjoying road hockey and pickup basketball video games, whereas additionally having fun with a buying spree at a sports activities gear retailer.
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One other spotlight got here Tuesday, after they had been particular company of the Montreal Canadiens for a sport in opposition to the Chicago Blackhawks. After assembly with Montreal gamers within the morning, and issued Canadiens jerseys, the boys watched the sport from a pair of suites. They acquired a standing ovation from the gang upon being proven on the video scoreboard, danced alongside to the music throughout breaks and gorged themselves on chocolate chip cookies.
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“I believe they didn’t notice at first that it’s all actual. I believe they’re considering they’re nonetheless dreaming,” mentioned Selects assistant coach Andrii Lupandin, whose son Denys scored two targets in a 3-1 tournament-opening win final weekend.
“I believe they forgot about all of the unhealthy stuff that’s occurring again dwelling, and for 3 hours throughout the sport, they simply being youngsters, lastly, how they’re imagined to be and never fascinated by if I’m going to listen to some bombs dropping on my head,” he added.
Lupandin might briefly overlook, too. He and his household have spent the previous two months residing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, after their dwelling in Ukraine was decimated.
For Lupandin, this journey represented an opportunity to introduce his son to the identical match he competed in, together with Pysarenko, and helped a workforce from Kharkiv win a championship in 1992.
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Their hosts that 12 months: the household of Sean Berube, now a profitable native businessman who dealt with the diplomatic paperwork this time to realize visas and spent some $20,000 of his personal cash crisscrossing Europe assembling the Selects.
“If it wasn’t for him, none of those youngsters in all probability could be right here,” Lupandin mentioned. “So for me, it’s simply to know there are folks like Sean nonetheless there and nonetheless wish to assist and assist with their very own coronary heart, nothing anticipated again.”
It was nothing, Berube mentioned.
“We’d have by no means imagined this changing into so excellent,” Berube mentioned. “For them to be on the pink carpet with the Montreal Canadiens, I imply, you may see it their eyes.
“The boys’ eyes had been utterly glowing.”
The Selects enjoying days won’t be over. Berube mentioned they’ve already been invited to play in a European match whereas he’s fielding provides to take part in different occasions.
Selects ahead Zahar Kovalenko known as this an expertise he’ll always remember, together with enjoying the tournament-opening sport in entrance of a near-capacity crowd of 18,000.
“I haven’t ever seen lots of people in our match. In Ukraine, we had like most 20 folks,” Kovalenko mentioned of Saturday’s sport when the Selects and Junior Bruins celebrated arm in arm earlier than and afterward.
Realizing solely a few his teammates upon arriving for coaching camp in Romania final month, Kovalenko has picked up a lot of new buddies alongside the best way. Except for bonding along with his teammates, there’s the kid of his billet household he refers to now as his brother, and buddies he’s made with different groups, together with the Junior Bruins who he’s now following on social media.
“Yeah, 4 guys. I simply talked to them. What’s your title? How lengthy they play hockey and all the things about it,” Kovalenko mentioned, referring to the Boston gamers. “Earlier than Canada, I knew most seven guys. And proper now, I’ve eight new buddies from my workforce.”
Kovalenko can now depend just a few Canadiens gamers amongst them.
“Over there, you don’t know if a bomb will fall shut by, so it’s robust to stroll of their footwear,” Canadiens ahead Alex Belzile mentioned. “We had been glad to see them.”
- ‘These youngsters carry pleasure’: Ukrainian boys already winners at Peewee hockey match | Globalnews.ca
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