Russian to the stores

DARREN FRIESEN, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

They may not go home with the Mac's midget title but Russia Severstal is taking plenty of stuff with them when they leave.

And the majority of it came from Value Village.

Given a rare day off at the very busy Mac's tournament Wednesday, the Russian club team chose to spend their downtime cruising the isles of Calgary's retail outlets -- including the well-known thrift store.

"They enjoyed it very much," said coach Igor Petrov through a translator. "They bought lots of stuff like souvenirs for their families and their girlfriends.

"Nowadays you can buy lots of things in Russia so you can get stuff there but they bought lots of stuff."

While Russia's retail district may be new, its hockey players remain the same when it comes to skill, particularly those on Severstal.

Plenty of speed and skill contributed to Severstal soundly defeating the Don Mills Flyers last night 9-2 at Max Bell, improving their record to 2-0 in round-robin play at the Mac's.

The Russians beat the Saskatoon Blazers 10-1 in their first game and if last night's victory is any indication of what is to come, they should be a serious contender to add the Mac's Cup to the rest of their souvenirs.

According to Petrov, however, this team is still trying to adjust to the Canadian game.

"The arenas at home are a little bigger than they are here, so coming here it has taken a little time to get adjusted to them," said Petrov.

"In general, we haven't seen too many of the other teams play and I don't want to compare Russian hockey to Canadian hockey but it seems the Russians are a little more skilled. But, we haven't seen all the teams yet."

The last time a Russian team attended the Mac's tournament, the country was still known as the Soviet Union.

Since then, things have changed which helped the Severstal organization get into this tournament.

"We got lots of information off the internet and through our contacts here," said Petrov.

"We heard from those things that this is a very good tournament and there is some very good teams.

"So, we asked our administration to give us financing to be able to come here. They agreed and we postponed some of our games to come."

Severstal plays in a league back home that has 19 teams and so far this season, they are sitting sixth in the standings.

Severstal is an organization similar to the Calgary Buffaloes or Calgary Royals but instead of stopping at the junior-B level, they have a pro team that plays in the Russian Super League.

This entitles the players on the midget team to one day graduate to that level as they move up through the ranks.

However, with only so many spots available some of the boys will be released and be able to try out for other pro teams when the time comes.

"When these boys come to a certain age, if our professional team doesn't need them, then we will let them go and they can do whatever they want," said Petrov.


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