WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Bisons are one of four Canada West hockey teams to host the Ukrainian men’s national team later this month and in early January.
The four universities, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Calgary, will prepare for the Winter University Games while also raising funds for refugees and Ukrainian communities.
The University of Manitoba Bisons will welcome Ukraine on January 9 at Canada Life Centre (7 p.m.).
The Bisons, who usually play their games at Wayne Fleming Arena on the Fort Garry campus, opted for a bigger venue to host the event. Head coach Mike Sirant reached out to Mark Chipman, chairman of True North Sports + Entertainment, to pitch the idea once the Bisons confirmed their participation in the Hockey Can’t Stop Tour.
“He was all in. That’s just the type of person Mark Chipman is, he’s one of the classiest people in the game, and he’s all about serving communities,” said Sirant.
“We’re going to not only put on a game, but a real cultural event. It will be a tremendous experience for the Ukrainians and our student-athletes. It’s going to be a different style of play. We’re looking forward to an excellent level of competition to help the Ukrainians prepare for the World Student Games, and also for us going into the second half.”
Proceeds from ticket sales will be sent to the Canada/Ukraine Foundation to provide assistance to humanitarian groups in Ukraine and Canada. The Foundation will disperse the majority of funds to Save Ukrainian Hockey Dream, a charitable foundation operated by the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine with the assistance of the IIHF.
— With files from Bison Sports