The plane crash that killed all the members of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL in 2011 was one of the saddest stories in sports history. The lives lost that day ranged from veteran players who never left Russia to former NHL players who returned to Europe to keep their career going.
One of those players was Pavol Demitra and a host of former NHL players are touring his home country of Slovakia this summer hosting three charity hockey games to raise money for youth hockey in the country as NHL.com shared.
A team of Slovak stars will face a team of St. Louis Blues stars in the games. Former NHL players Peter Stastny, Anton Stastny, Peter Bondra, Miroslav Satan, and John Wensink joined up with Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara for the effort all to help remember their friend and countryman.
“I am glad that we could pay tribute to [Pavol] this way,” Chara said. “The other good thing was the game was a sellout. It shows people here love hockey. Playing with all these stars from both teams was a great honor for me.”
The two sides have played one game already in Poprad. Game 2 will be on Friday in Trencin followed by Game 3 in the Slovak capital, Bratislava, on Saturday.
Russia was a team on a mission and they finished things off in style today beating Slovakia 6-2 to claim the gold medal at the IIHF World Championships in Finland.
It didn’t start off strong for Russia as Slovakia’s Zdeno Chara kicked off the scoring and putting the Cinderella Slovaks up 1-0 in the first period. That glory would be short-lived for the Slovaks as the line of Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, and Alexander Semin got hot.
Semin finished the game with two goals and an assist while Datsyuk had a goal and two assists and Ovechkin added two helpers. Yes Caps fans, we’re wondering where this Alex Semin was during the second round as well.
Tournament MVP Evgeni Malkin finished his monster performance at Worlds with a goal in the final game and took home the MVP trophy thanks to his 11 goals and 8 assists throughout the tournament. A gold medal, a World Championships MVP, and perhaps the Hart Trophy on top of it all. Not a bad year.
While it might look like a disappointing finish for Slovakia, considering they were playing for the memory of Pavol Demitra and nearly didn’t qualify for the quarterfinals, coming away with the silver is a huge victory of sorts for the Slovaks. Also, team captain Zdeno Chara did well to honor Demitra as you’ll see here.
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After failing to win a medal at the World Championships for nearly 10 years, Slovakia is one win away from gold in 2012. Chris Johnston reports that it’s more about timely scoring, though: the underdogs are trying to win it for Pavol Demitra.
“We all know that we’re not playing just for us,” Zdeno Chara said. “We’re playing for our country and obviously with the tragedy that happened … it’s also for Pav.”
Tomas Kopecky couldn’t help but think of his fallen former teammate when the Slovakian team scored a surprise win against Canada with a late tally.
“When you look at the game against Canada, after we scored the third goal, I just looked up and said ‘Thanks God,'” Kopecky said. “He’s with us, it’s unbelievable. It’s just a great feeling.”
If nothing else, the gold will go to a team heavily impacted by that awful accident in Yaroslavl. The Russian team faces Slovakia in the gold medal game and they lost plenty of former teammates and friends in the crash. Either way, it’s an inspiring story that Johnston calls “the kind of story usually reserved for the movies.”