Fri, December 30, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EST
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team will take the ice for an important cause Friday evening.
Ukraine’s national U-25 team has travelled to Saskatoon to play the Huskies in the first game of the Hockey Can’t Stop Tour. Ukraine will also play the Calgary Dinos, Alberta Golden Bears and Manitoba Bison in preparation for the Winter FISU World University Games, which starts Jan.12 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Brandin Cote, the Huskies head coach, said he’s happy that his team can help the Ukrainians get ready for the international tournament.
“They want to play hockey, but they’re dispersed and can’t really do it over there,” Cote said. “We’re helping them get prepared, but most importantly we want to support the kids and their dreams to play hockey as well.”
All profits from ticket sales on the Hockey Can’t Stop Tour will be sent to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, which provides humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians both at home and in Canada.
The foundation will give the majority of funds to Save Ukrainian Hockey Dream— a charitable organization with a goal of supporting players at home and abroad, training youth and professional teams, and restoring Ukrainian arenas damaged by the war.
Since the Russian invasion began, arenas in Severodonetsk, Druzhkivka, Donetsk, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, Kherson and Melitopol have been lost or destroyed.
Cote said the game will benefit his players in many ways. Not only will it help them return to form after the Christmas break, more importantly the players will gain valuable perspective.
Men aged 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine without special permission, but players who made the country’s U-25 national team have received military exemptions to compete in the Winter University Games.
“Anytime you could play a team from a different country, it’s always an intriguing thing,” Cote said. “It’s a life memory for them, but I think the bigger picture is gaining perspective and realize how lucky we are to be able to play without having to deal with what’s going on over there.”
The puck drops at 6 p.m. CST Friday evening at Merlis Belsher Place in Saskatoon.