Ukrainian U-25 National Hockey Team set for Western Canada Exhibition Series

The Ukrainian U-25 National Ice Hockey Team is travelling to Canada to prepare safely for the 2023 Winter University Games. As Adam Ziccarelli reports, the cause is greater than a simple exhibition series.

By Adam Ziccarelli

As the war rages on in Ukraine, a little glimmer of hope is provided to one of their national ice hockey teams. Not 48 hours into a power outage in Kyiv, members of the local media were invited to speak with players, coaches and members of the Ukraine Ice Hockey Federation.

The U-25 Ukrainian National Team will be travelling to Western Canada to play in exhibition games against some of Canada’s most prestigious hockey schools. One of the opponents, the University of Alberta Golden Bears, are reigning champions. The Golden Bears hold the record for the most national championships, winning 16 of 22 finals appearances.

The team from Ukraine is travelling to Canada in preparation for the 2023 Winter University Games. With no water, electricity and heat in major areas of the country, and with only 4 arenas in operation, the team is in need of a safe facility.

Savva Serdiuk, a goalie for the National Team, stated, “we don’t have electricity and water and stuff like that. It’s pretty hard to practice in Ukraine.”

When asked if Serdiuk was worried for his family, the player responded with, “I’m really worried about my family because they’re in Kyiv, Ukraine, It’s still dangerous here. It’s just really hard to leave here alive.”

The tour out to western Canada, called the “Hockey Can’t Stop Tour,” has the team travelling to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton.

Proceeds from tickets and donations are going towards the Canada/Ukrainian Foundation, with the majority going to the Save Ukrainian Hockey Dream foundation. Proceeds will go towards supporting players at home and abroad, training for both youth and professional teams, and the restoration of Ukrainian arenas damaged by the war.

Ian Herbers, Head Coach of the University of Alberta Golden Bears mentioned it’s not just about the individual game, but about supporting the game of hockey in Ukraine. The coach said, “The biggest thing is the opportunity to help out hockey in Ukraine and not just here in Canada, in Edmonton, or the U of A.”

The first game for the Ukrainian team will be in Saskatoon against the U of S Huskies on Dec. 30, 2022.

The game in Edmonton is set to take place on January 2, 2023, at Clare Drake Arena.

Then the Ukrainians will travel down Highway 2 to Calgary to take on the U of C Dinos at Father David Bauer arena on Jan. 3.

The U of M will close out the run with a game at Winnipeg’s Canada Life Centre on Jan. 9.

For those unable to get their tickets, the game will be streamed online at the Canada West website.

Canada West Associate Director of Communications and Marketing Stefanie Lasiuk spoke about this opportunity. “We do encourage people to donate in other ways. We’re hoping to get some merchandise available. We’re also hoping people will watch the stream and donate through the links online.”

Executive Director of the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation, Oleksandra Slatvytska, believes that building hockey in the country could benefit other sports. Slatvytska states, “We want to change the sports in general in our country. We really do believe we can build hockey as an example to other kinds of sports.”

With a massive Ukrainian community in western Canada, the organization is expecting a large amount of support ramping up for the team, leading to the tournament.

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