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05 February 2017 | in Ice Hockey, Winter Universiade

#WUAlmaty2017 - University Competitors bring their Rivalry across the World to Almaty’s Ice Hockey Tournament



ALMATY — When Canadian university teams — Calgary and Alberta — went head to head in women’s hockey on 21 January, it began what would be an International rivalry because just one week later, one player from each team would meet up again in Almaty, Kazakhstan.


University of Calgary’s Sasha Vafina suited up for her native country, Russia at the 2017 Winter Universiade alongside University of Alberta’s Alexandra Poznikoff, who now competes for Canada.


The two players battled it out on Canadian soil where Alberta won two back-to-back games before the two players jumped on a plane and made their way across the world.


“It’s pretty remarkable that we could even be in Kazakhstan together,” said Canada’s Poznikoff. “We just played them the last weekend before we left. She’s an incredible player, so to even be on this ice surface with her is an honour.”


And Russia’s Vafina agreed: “Well, hockey world is small,” she said.


She added that she wasn’t surprised to see Poznikoff’s name on the Canadian roster because of how good she is for her university team.


After both Canada and Russia finished in the top spot in their pools during the preliminary rounds, and winning their semi-final games, these two teams would battle it out for the gold medal at the Games.


But would these two athletes who have a university hometown bond have an international bond too or will the rivalry continue?


“On ice, it’s battle for your team, for your country; there is no friendship, sorry,” said Russia’s Vafina, who was part of the Russian ice hockey team that won the gold medal at the 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada.


Canada’s Poznikoff is looking forward to the match up — a game that would be a rematch of the championship game from last Universiade — but agrees; it’s all business here in Almaty.


“We are all looking forward hopefully to that ending because [Russia] looks like such a good team and it’d be a really good game; it’d be kind of friendship and rivalry.”


But the most important aspect of the 2017 Winter Universiade for both these players is having the opportunity to represent their respective countries.


“Words can’t even describe how exciting it is to put this maple leaf on,” Poznikoff said with a smile. “It’s rare to be able to ever do this once in a lifetime, so I’m definitely taking in every moment of it.”


For Vafina, an athlete who attends a university so far from her friends and family in Russia, wearing the Russian jersey at these Games is an honour she’s very proud of.

“It’s tough being far from home,” she said. “At the last moment, I didn’t know I would be able to go and join Russian team but I am really glad for this opportunity. I am really glad to be able to play with these girls … it’s fun.”


Check out the entire video interview here!



Kelcey Wright Johnson, U-Media reporter