Photo courtesy Electric Umbrella/University of Saskatchewan Huskie Athletics
Coming from Europe, it may seem a bit out of the way to get to Lake Placid, New York by first heading through western Canada. However, the U25 Ukrainian men’s ice hockey team that will compete at the upcoming Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games has good reason for the detour. The ‘Hockey Can’t Stop Tour’ has been organised with four Canadian universities to enable the team to have some pre-tournament action prior to heading to Lake Placid and to support Ukrainian hockey.
The Universities of Alberta, Calgary, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, all located in the Canadian prairies, each have a game against the Ukrainian U25 team. The three played so far have been in front of very supportive crowds in sold out arenas – 2,375 in the opening game in Saskatoon against the University of Saskatchewan, 1,700 at Father David Bauer Arena against the Calgary Dinos, and 2,300 at Clare Drake Arena versus the University of Alberta Golden Bears. Ukraine will take on the University of Manitoba Bisons 9 January before making their way to Lake Placid.
Of the three games played to date, the Canadian university teams, all ranked in the top 10 of Canadian university men’s hockey, have come out on top. This from a 2-0 win by the #9 ranked Saskatchewan Huskies, a 3-1 victory by the #2 ranked Calgary Dinos, and a 5-1 triumph in Edmonton by the #4 ranked Alberta Golden Bears.
“We all really appreciate the support,” Mykhailo Simchuk said after the game against the University of Calgary. “This is a good push for our team [as we get ready for the FISU World University Games]. Simchuk, Ukraine’s goal scorer against Calgary, knows this area well as he plays his junior hockey just outside of Calgary with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He added, “We really appreciate this tour. It’s good for us. Good for our fund, good for [future generations] in Ukraine. Canada really helped us.”
While much of the focus is on the hockey itself, profits from ticket sales will be given to the Canada/Ukraine Foundation which supports humanitarian organisations in both Ukraine and Canada. From this, Save Ukrainian Hockey Dream, a charitable foundation operated by the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine with support of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), will receive the majority of the funds. The money will go to support Ukrainian players at home and around the world, to train players and teams, and also to restore arenas.
The Ukrainian team will face some familiar foes in their opening game of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games as they will take on Canada on 12 January, in their first appearance at the FISU Games since Trentino in 2013. University of Saskatchewan players Jared Dmytriw and Roddy Ross (a National Hockey League draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers), University of Calgary coach Mark Howell and team captain Noah King, and Brett Davis of the University of Manitoba (also a NHL draft pick of the Dallas Stars) will all be in Lake Placid representing Canada. Ukraine will seek their third ever men’s ice hockey medal at the FISU Games, having won gold in 1999 in Poprad-Tatry, Slovakia and bronze in Zakopane, Poland in 2001.
The Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games start in one week and beginning 11 January all hockey games can be watched live at FISU.tv. Specifically for semi-finals and medal round games – in the United States they will be available on ESPNU, ESPN, and streamed on ESPN+, and in Canada, subject to final scheduling, TSN will have coverage on its on its broadcast and streaming platforms.
Written by Doug McLean
(Quotes courtesy University of Calgary Dinos)
We warmly thank FISU Official Partner Qiaodan Ltd. which provides remarkable uniforms to FISU Family and International Technical Officials since 2015. Qiaodan is a valuable partner for FISU as it continued to provide its support during the postponement of events due to the global pandemic, and recently extended the relationship with FISU up to and including 2025.