Ukrainian refugee hockey team wins 1st game at Quebec City tournament

Team Ukraine Select, made up of 11-and-12-year-old refugees, won 3-1 against the Boston Junior Bruins Saturday.

Team Ukraine Select is made up of 11-and-12-year-old Ukrainian refugees

a shot of the Boston goalie, #30, and Ukrainian player #7
Team Ukraine Select beat the Boston Junior Bruins 3-1 on Saturday, much to the delight of the many fans who came out to watch them play. (Nicolas Perron-Drolet/Radio-Canada)

A team of young Ukrainian players won its first game at the 63rd Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament Saturday, to thunderous applause.

Three late goals gave the team made up of Ukrainian refugees a 3-1 victory over the Boston Junior Bruins.

The match had stayed scoreless into the third period when Boston managed to get on the board. 

But Ukraine promptly answered with a trio of goals in the last five minutes. 

Thanks to the encouragement and applause from a packed Vidéotron Centre, Team Ukraine Select secured a second match in the tournament.

Support for Ukraine 

Rather than shuffle off the ice, members of the Boston Junior Bruins happily took part in a victory lap along with the Selects, which ended with the teams gathering again at centre ice.

The players then posed for a picture with one player from each side holding up the ends of a large Ukrainian flag.

"First of all, it's a message that everybody can be friends and should be friends and live in peace and respect each other," said Denys Lupandin, who scored two of Ukraine's three goals Saturday, in an answer translated by coach Yevhenii Pysarenko.

"It doesn't matter from where you are."

Thousands of spectators wore white — a symbol of peace — to support Ukraine and waved Canadian and Ukrainian flags as both teams came together and linked arms during their respective national anthems.

The win comes after months of effort from Pysarenko and a Quebec City businessman who had to sort out visas and arrange travel for players.

The winning team arrived in Canada on Feb. 1 and has been playing since March 2022. 

With files from Radio-Canada and The Canadian Press