Russian ice hockey side Lokomotiv Yaroslavl have played their first competitive game, just three months after a plane crash wiped out their entire squad.
Since the tragedy, other teams in the league had donated players and they took to the ice on Monday evening at home against Neftyanik in front of a sell-out crowd in the VHL – that's a division below the top-tier KHL.
The team, made up entirely of young players, couldn't but win on the occasion, which they did, thrashing their more experienced opponents 5-1.
Speaking to the Sport-Express paper ahead of the debut game, the club’s president, Yury Yakovlev, outlined the team’s goals in the coming seasons.
“I don’t know what the team will look like in the VHL since it’s a new league for us. But I’m sure the team will progress from game to game. We set only one goal for this season – to try to win every single game,” Yakovlev stressed.
The club rejected the league’s offer to get a guaranteed playoff spot this season.
“We don’t need such a gift,” said Yakovlev. “We want to win this berth. Nothing should be given for granted in sport. The players should feel the responsibility for the final result starting from the very first game.”
Yakovlev also stated the club intend to re-enter the elite top-flight next season.
“There is a certainty that Lokomotiv will be able to return to the KHL in a year and this team will be able to fight for the Gagarin Cup.”