Sunday, December 26, 2010


The Russians are Coming!

The Russians are Coming!

The title of this column is the title of a movie produced in 1966. The East and the West were in the midst of a Cold War of nerves, following several potentially serious political crises.

The comedy, starring Carl Reiner, Brian Keith, and Eva Marie Saint, dealt with a Russian submarine that was grounded off the American coast. It sent the local inhabitants into a frenzy. Well worth watching.

The Russians are indeed coming, but this time to Prince Edward County. On this occasion, it will be a team of Junior Russian hockey players, on tour in North America. The team is comprised of outstanding junior players who were the last cuts from the Russian Junior team involved in the World Junior Championships in Buffalo.

They will play the Wellington Dukes on January 4th at the Essroc Centre. There are tickets available at Lavender Furniture on Main Street in Wellington. You may also call Betty at 613-399-1573.

The team is coached by two former National Hockey League players: Alexander Semak, and Vyacheslav Butsayev.

They played together for several Russian teams, including Olympic teams.

Semak had a more extended NHL career, as he played in 289 games with a variety of teams: New Jersey, Tampa Bay, New York Islanders, and Vancouver. He also had stints in a host of American Hockey League cities. He finished his professional career with half a dozen seasons in the Russian league.

Semak posted respectable totals in the NNL, netting 83 goals with 91 helpers in his career. His best year was in 92-93 when he had 37 goals and 42 helpers in 82 games.

Butsayev was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1990. He moved on from there to play for the Sharks, the Mighty Ducks, the Panthers, the Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning. He returned to Russia in 2001, and continued to play there.

On Boxing Day, the Canadians and the Russians were knotted at three goals each heading into the third period. The Canadians prevailed; however, they are still in the preliminary rounds, and the Russians have often emerged from opening rounds to play much better at later stages in international tournaments.

The game in Wellington will be the first international contest at the Essroc Centre. The Dukes are grateful to the corporate sponsors of the game: McDougall-Stanton Insurance, Picton Home Hardware building Centre, and Prinzen Ford from Bloomfield.

The Russian Red Stars team will also have some graduates from their junior program. It is expected that the Dukes will bolster their lineup with a few players from other teams in the league.

Game time is 7:30pm. The following weekend the Dukes will play Kingston on Friday night, and Lindsay on Sunday. Enjoy!

James Hurst
27 December 2010

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