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Big smiles of young Ukrainian hockey players upon seeing the Videotron Center ice rink

The 17 Ukrainian hockey players who arrived in Quebec City Wednesday for the Pee-Wee Championship had their eyes puffy from the stress of the long flight when they finally walked through the doors of the Videotron Center in the middle of the evening to meet. their nine families. Hello who applauded them upon their arrival.

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But the fatigue seemed to give way to a bit and gave way to wide smiles as the youths went upstairs to see the huge arena where they will play their first official match, on February 11th.

“It’s really incredible! Maksim set off in a coat with the image of heroism, on which the flag of Ukraine was embroidered. For us, it’s a chance to be here. »

An email changed everything

Two hours ago, the Coliseum Lobby slowly started filling up with foster family members, most of whom have kids at St. Patrick’s High School.

The excitement was palpable. The mothers we interviewed were excited to learn about their subjects, who were just learning
Tuesday names.

It was not difficult to convince them to embark on this beautiful three-week adventure. An email sent by one of St. Patrick’s High School hockey coaches made their hearts race.

“All the scope of action we could take, affected us, excited Annie Hamel. It’s as if someone had given us a pole so we could achieve something tangible.”

“Yes, we can send money to Ukraine. But there, we have the impression that we can make a difference in their lives.”

Ukrainians came to wait

It wasn’t just the host families who were looking forward to the young hockey players. Irina and her two sons, originally from Kyiv and arrived last August, have come to welcome them with their Ukrainian flag.

“I know some will be back there in three weeks, but the important thing is that they live positively while they are here,” the lady smiled.

The tournament’s general manager, Patrick Daume, has been overwhelmed by all the generosity shown by the people of Quebec since the advent was announced
Ukrainian pewi.

“I realize that Quebec is really special,” he said.

“everyone loves them”

Already, 6,000 tickets were sold for the team’s first game, against the emerging Boston Bruins.

Historical fact of the event, as the majority of spectators generally gain their right of entry on the same day.

Mr. Doom is anticipating a full house show, which will be a first for the tournament at the Videotron Center.

“What I’m afraid of, even if I don’t want to think about it too much right away, is going back. But the message they can at least get across is that everyone loves them. Everyone loves them,” noted Mr. Doom.

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“If we could put balm on what they’ve been living as bullshit for a year, that would be it.”

Players who send a message of hope

“In the beginning, it was an impossible task. It’s a miracle on the ice,” Ukrainian delegation coach Yevgeny Pisarenko said on Wednesday after we got here.

Evgeny Pisarenko, team coach

QMI photo, Joel LeMay

Evgeny Pisarenko, team coach

The past few weeks have not been easy for either the young hockey players or Pisarenko.

Huge task

And it was necessary to collect these young people scattered in several European countries. Four of them were still in Ukraine a few days ago.

“We try to explain to young people that this experience is special, that it goes beyond hockey. May they send a message of hope to the whole world. They are an example of strength, resilience and solidarity,” the coach noted.

Like his players, Pisarenko was tired from the long commute and car journey between Montreal and Quebec.

But while he was no doubt eager to get back to his bunk, he was also excited to see what lay ahead for the team in the next three weeks.

“The guys are excited,” he said.

busy schedule

Already, Pisarenko knew their schedule would be busy. As is customary during Pee’s visit to Quebec, young people will visit the main attractions of the city.

They will also train over the next few days with players from St. Patrick’s High School at the school’s facilities.

The town of Shannon, where two host families are staying, invites them to play for free on their ice rinks, where admission is generally paid for visitors from abroad.

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Full house ready

There may also be Tim Hortons on the list.

At least, that’s what Mia, the daughter of Diane Toye, who is the mother of one of the foster families, thinks.

But above all, says Pisarenko, the next three weeks will be emotionally charged.

Especially during their first official match, on February 11, in which the Videotron Center is expected to be full to capacity for their first shots at the tournament.

He smiled, “We’re ready for that.”