Wings of Steel Play Host to Russian Youth Sled Hockey Team
Saturday, September 27, 2014

In what was billed as a “Friendship Series”, a young team named Ladoga from Tula, Russia traveled to the United States to play against our Wings of Steel in sled hockey games at the Virtua Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, but this journey began a few months ago as USA Hockey reached out to Coach Brake about a reciprocal sponsorship, that being a Russian team would come here and play our kids and we host them and help with their expenses and then our team next year would travel to Russia and they would return the favor.

Despite the unrest in Russia and given the political unrest in other parts of the world, one thing both teams agreed on is that sportsmanship knows no politics. Team Ladoga, flew into New York on Monday, 9/22 and the Wings hired buses to transport them from JFK, where they checked in to the accommodations right across from the rink. Throughout the week of their stay, the Wings organization and parents organized activities for the kids that ranged from going to the boardwalk in Ocean City, to the Jersey Aquarium, to a taste of Philly night. The language barrier was an issue as none of the Ladoga kids spoke English, but the universal sign for liking something, is a thumbs up, which I saw a lot of from the kids and then there’s Google Translate, and many of them have smart phones. That opened up some communication, but once on the ice, the language of hockey seems to be universal.

The team traveled with an interpreter as well as a team doctor along with a guardian for the 10 players. It was encouraging to see our young kids making an attempt to communicate despite the language barrier. A few of the team members on both teams have made Facebook connections, which will hopefully build a bridge in communication when the Wings travel to Russia.

As for the games, they were close, with the final game going down to the wire with team Russia winning 3-2.

Written by Joanne Costantino