Port Alberni adopts Team Kazakhstan for World Junior Hockey Championship

A pair of Swiss players, centre, collide with a pair of Kazakhstan players deep in Team Switzerland’s territory during the second period of a World Junior Hockey Championship pre-tournament game in Port Alberni on Dec. 21. SUSAN QUINN/ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS
Team Switzerland goalie Luca Jan Hollenstein stops a scoring drive by Team Kazakhstan’s captain, Sayan Daniyar in the second period of their World Junior Hockey Championship pre-tournament game in Port Alberni on Dec. 21. SUSAN QUINN/ ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS
Maxim Musorov, left, of Team Kazakhstan takes a faceoff against Matthew Verboon of Team Switzerland late in the third period of their World Junior Hockey Championship pre-tournament game in Port Alberni on Dec. 21. SUSAN QUINN/ ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS
Members of the Tseshaht First Nation sing a welcoming song to open the World Junior Hockey Championship pre-tournament game in Port Alberni between Switzerland and Kazakhstan, Dec. 21. SUSAN QUINN/ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS

Switzerland may have won the game, but Team Kazakhstan won the hearts of Port Alberni hockey fans with their World Junior Hockey Championship pre-tournament appearances at the end of December.

The two international teams faced each other in an exhibition game at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Friday, Dec. 21. Switzerland scored four goals in the first two periods to take a commanding 4–0 lead. Kazakhstan team captain Sayan Daniyar scored their lone goal at 12:53 of the third period as Switzerland went on to win 4–1.

The game was the second that Kazakhstan played in Port Alberni, having defeated the host Junior A Alberni Valley Bulldogs two days earlier. Kazakhstan used the Multiplex as its training facility for the week leading up to the World Juniors in Victoria and Vancouver.

Kazakhstan appreciated the hospitality they received while playing two exhibition games in Port Alberni. “It was a great experience,” head coach Sergei Starygin said via translator Serik Imanbayev. “We would like to highlight the exceptional warm welcome here in Port Alberni. They were two good matches, one against Port Alberni’s Bulldogs and the second one against Team Switzerland.

“We can only characterize it as an outstanding pre-camp here. We got a lot of material for the coach staff.”

Starygin and the rest of the coaching staff trimmed their roster by four players following the game against the Swiss. The players flew home the next day.

Kazakhstan spent the Christmas break in Victoria. Being in the B-pool, they won’t be travelling to Vancouver for any games, Starygin said.

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs were the only B.C. Hockey League team to play against one of the World Junior teams, despite several Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland rinks hosting international teams.

“The only BCHL team that got to play was the Bulldogs. Otherwise, all the Lordco pre-competition Road to the World Juniors were competing federations for the World Junior tournament. I think that’s quite an honour for the Bulldogs as well as something they should be very proud of,” said Spencer Brennan, coordinator of events and properties for Hockey Canada.

The Bulldogs lost 5–2 against Kazakhstan in front of one of the largest crowds the AV Multiplex has seen in a few seasons.

“I think both (games) were outstanding,” Brennan said. “A while back when we were going through the process of identifying communities, Port Alberni stood out for us all along. We’ve had some tremendous success here in the past, in 2009 with the World Under-17s.

“We knew it was a place and community we had to come back to—absolutely great hockey fans, great community. They totally embraced Team Kazakhstan.”

Brennan called the turnout for both games “phenomenal,” adding that both teams “had a great experience”.

Port Alberni is not the only city to have adopted Kazakhstan during the World Junior Hockey Championship. During the team’s opening game of the tourney against Finland on Dec. 27, chants of “Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan” could be heard throughout Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria. Several Port Albernians were seen in the crowd that night too.

Goaltender Demid Yeremeyev faced 56 shots in the first game, which Finland won 5–0. Every time Yeremeyev made a good save in the third period the crowd cheered. When he was named the Player of the Game for Kazakhstan, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

The same happened in Kazakhstan’s second game of the contest on Dec. 28: when they scored their first goal against the United States, the Memorial Centre crowd cheered wildly. Kazakhstan lost that game 8–2.

Team Kazakhstan earned their way into the World Juniors via the relegation round. They dropped down to a lower level of competition a decade ago, and only this year managed to battle back into the World Juniors.

Although they have the least experience of any of the other nine teams in the championship, Kazakhstan is a hockey hotbed in Central Asia. It’s no different on Vancouver Island: hockey fans in Victoria have bought up every Team Kazakhstan jersey in the souvenir shop.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

B.C.-born hockey official talks to IIHF about switching European rule book to NHL rules

Rob Shick will represent NHL at 4th World Hockey Forum in Russia

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Helping with Christmas bird count is ‘citizen science’

Port Alberni’s bird count will be Dec. 28, 2019; volunteers are needed

BUDGET 2020: Port Alberni Fire Department needs new equipment

Police services ask for funding for community policing office

Child care sector feels the squeeze in Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District

There are five children for every licensed child care space in the ACRD

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

‘Norovirus-like’ outbreak interrupts Bantam hockey showcase in Greater Victoria

Several athletes were sent home, quarantined on the ferry

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Most Read