Tuesday, May 10, 2005


You don't know Ukraine

One of the 'feel-good' stories of the 2005 World Hockey Championships has been the rather fine play of the overmatched Ukrainian squad.

I picked them to finish dead-last in 16th place, but the Ukeys appear to be capable of giving their more powerful opponents a rough time. This was none the more evidant than in their 1-1 tie against the US of A.

OK, so the Ukes were outshot 39-9, but the USA couldn't grab both points and Ukraine managed to steal a point away from their old cold-war enemies.

The Ukes have played the style that the Germans have tried to do for so many years - Slow down the game to a crawl and take advantage of the low score to steal some points. It isn't pretty, but it's been working... 6 goals for and 12 goals against and a 1-3-1 record in 5 games is pretty good for this squad, especially since they don't have some of their biggest stars like Ruslan Fedotenko, Dmitri Khristich, and Boris Protsenko.

3-2 Loss to Sweden
4-1 Loss to Finland
1-2 Win over Denmark
3-0 Loss to Latvia
1-1 Tie vs the USA

The leading scorers for Ukraine both have just 2 goals and 0 assists (Sergei Varlamov and Bogdan Savenko). The real star has been goaltender Konstantyn Simchuk, who has a 93.91% save percentage and a 2.40 GAA. Simchuk had about 100 rather unimpressive games in the UHL, and is now plying his trade in the Russian league.

Like Slovakia's Peter Bondra (Born in Lutsk, Ukraine), my family also has roots in the western Carpathian mountains of Ukraine and we share Ruthenian roots. I've always had a soft spot for the Ukrainian hockey team, despite the fact that they don't leave much for you to cheer for.

Hockey is a very minor spot in Ukraine, with very little in terms of facilities available outside the capital Kiev. Don't expect the growth of hockey in that country to mirror that in places like Switzerland.

The biggest impact Ukraine has had on the hockey world has been the emigrants who went to other countries and produced fine hockey playing sons unto the world - Ilya Kovalchuk, Igor Kravchuk, and Pavel Datsyuk for Russia and Dale Hawerchuk, Bernie Federko, Dave Andreychuk, Richard Matvichuk, Johnny Bucyk, Devan Dubnyk, and Jordin Tootoo (a half-ukey) for Canada.

For the time being, I'm just hoping they can avoid relegation and stick around another year.

Nash gets off Scot-Free - No punishment for Rick Nash after the *phantom* attack on a referee. Much ado about nothing...

Hey Jes,

Our allegiances will be torn on Thursday. Slovakia vs. Canada. Q

Quite personally, although I am Canadian, I find this team extremely difficult to cheer for. None of my favourite players are here, and deep down I know I will want the Slovaks to win. Am I a traitor?

You are not a traitor. You are a man of good tastes :)

When it comes to the WC, I always cheer for Slovakia over Canada. The tourney means far more to Slovaks than Canadians.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?