Hockey clubs’ support for Ukrainian goaltender ‘brought tears’ to father’s eyes

Members of the Semiahmoo and Ridge Meadows U11 A1 teams come together at centre ice prior to their game Saturday to show support for Ukraine, and Semiahmoo’s Ukrainianborn goaltender, Dmytro Makogonsky. (Contributed photo)

Though the details and reasons for a war halfway across the world can be easily lost on children, the current Russian invasion of Ukraine hit much closer to home for members of the Semiahmoo Raven’s U11 A1 team.

The minor hockey squad’s goaltender, Dmytro Makogonsky, is Ukrainian.

His family – which includes a brother and sister, father, Yuriy, and mother, Sasha – had already fled Vladimir Putin’s Russian army once – leaving Ukraine’s Crimea region for Canada in 2014. And his teammates – and teammates’ parents – knew that, with the season winding down, they wanted to show their support.

A Ukraine flag is displayed in the window of White Rock’s Moby Dick restaurant, which is owned by the Ukrainian-born Makogonsky family. (Nick Greenizan photo)

“As a team, we knew this was affecting him, so we wanted to do something,” team manager Paul McMillan told Peace Arch News, noting that the team had purchased a Ukraine flag, as well as stickers for players to wear on their helmets for the team’s Final Four playoff weekend, which was hosted by the Burnaby Winter Club.

“We wanted to support him through this, because it’s about a lot more than just hockey.”

But what the team didn’t expect was for one of their biggest rivals to get behind the movement, too.

Prior to the four-team playoff tournament – which included the Ridge Meadows Rustlers, and both Burnaby and North Shore Winter Clubs – McMillan had emailed the three other teams to let them know they would be visibly showing support for Ukraine, and that it was because of a teammate, who still has family in the country.

A card of support, signed by members of Ridge Meadow’s U11 A1 team, was presented to Semiahmoo goaltender Dmytro Makogonsky at the teams’ game Saturday. (Contributed photo)

“We wanted to make sure they knew the meaning behind it, and knew it wasn’t just some kind of social-media (stunt) … to know that it was important for us to support our teammate,” he said.

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