A team of ‘veteran’ hockey players is already gearing up for a visit to Duncan in April by a Russian team as part of a four-game Goodwill Hockey Tour.
Cowichan Valley Capitals’ interim head coach Aaron Plumb and Caps’ director of sales and marketing David van Deventer have put together a team to play the Russians Sunday, April 7 at 7 p.m. at Cowichan Arena.
“They’re taking it quite seriously,’’ chuckled van Deventer. “They’re training.’’
Plumb, Kerry Park Islanders’ coach Dale Purinton and former National Hockey League player Mat Ellison are the notables on the local team. Others on the roster will be announced at a later date.
The tour starts in Parksville April 5 and includes games in Port Alberni April 6 and Campbell River April 9. Local teams will be formed in each community to take on the Russians.
A relationship with the Russian Hockey Federation was maintained by Port Alberni hockey enthusiast Jim Lawson after Alberni and other island communities hosted games in the World Under-17 hockey championships in 2009, van Deventer said.
“As a group, Port Alberni extended this invitation to the Russian Hockey Federation, never expecting they’d say, ‘yeah, we’ll come,’’’ said van Deventer.
The Tropic ice hockey team from Tula, Russia — about 200 kilometres south of Moscow — includes players of all ages, up to 51.
“They’ve thrown a couple of 20-somethings in there because they wanted to be competitive, to be honest,’’ said van Deventer.
Details on advance tickets and prices for the game in Duncan will be announced soon. Proceeds from the game will go to KidSport Cowichan.
While in the valley, the Russian players will visit local attractions such as the Chemainus murals and the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre.
“It’s a goodwill tour, we want to take these guys from Russia and show them what island life is like,’’ said van Deventer.