Lokomotiv Yaroslavl prepares for return after tragic loss

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Lokomotiv Yaroslavl prepares for return after tragic loss

On Sept. 7, 2011, an immense tragedy struck the hockey community when a plane carrying the KHL's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crashed, initially leaving only two survivors among the 45 players and coaches on board. Five days later, one of those rescued from the wreck, died, leaving flight engineer Alexander Sizov the sole survivor.

The team went from being a member of Russia's top league to playing in the second-ranked Russian Major League (VHL) beginning in December of 2011 and throughout the remainder of the 2011-12 season.

It's been nearly a year since the devastating crash, and the team is ready to rebuild itself on and off the ice.

An August preseason game in the KHL typically wouldn't attract a large crowd by any means, but when Lokomotiv Yaroslavl took the ice this week, over 3,000 people packed the arena to watch the team come back and recover after experiencing so much sadness.

As so much hope and inspiration filled the rink from supporters, new head coach Tom Rowe realized the impact the team had on its fans and the importance of producing positive results throughout the season, both for statistical and personal reasons.

"It's a great inspiration," he said. "I knew Brad McCrimmon the Lokomotiv coach who died in last year's air disaster very well and we have to ensure we have a very good season.

"We want to make the team and the city proud. There's an incredible fan base, and the team and the organization has a lot to live up to."

Lokomotiv's new, young team was unable to beat CSKA in their preseason matchup, but the players showed a high level of on-ice talent and looked promising to those watching from the sidelines.

Former Blackhawks defender Sami Lepisto is one of the latest additions to the team. He had appeared in 26 games for Chicago last season, including three of six playoff games against the Coyotes.

The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team was establish in 1959 and has since won the Russian Open Championship in 1997, 2002 and 2003.

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Sunday:

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

What if… Cubs GM Jed Hoyer’s takeaways from epic World Series Game 7

Quick hits: Blackhawks start strong in win over Blues

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Michigan State gets big win to boost tourney hopes, while Wisconsin loses for fourth time in five games

 

 

 

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling found out at 8 a.m. Sunday that he was starting for an ailing Corey Crawford. Considering he did this back in December for a few weeks, adjusting quick for one game was fine.

"It's kind of my job," Darling said.

And Darling, once again, did his job.

Darling stopped 30 of 32 shots and Patrick Kane scored his 24th goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 games. They're one point behind the Minnesota Wild, who made their splashy trade-deadline move in acquiring Martin Hanzal on Sunday. But the Blackhawks, thanks to veterans regaining their form, a top line finding its rhythm and youth consistently improving, are just rolling right along.

"We had a great start to the game. I thought Darls was excellent all night, great stretch there in the last 10 minutes where we fight through some tough shifts, particularly in the last couple of minutes in our end. But good win," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look at the nice plays on the goals, it was kind of a comparable ending to the outdoor game: tied and about the same time they scored, we scored (tonight). Big two points for us."

Jonathan Toews scored his 16th of the season and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winning goal with 5:20 remaining in regulation. Tanner Kero added an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds remaining in the game.

The Blackhawks already knew they'd be without Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) for at least a day or two when they found out Crawford couldn't go this morning. As Quenneville said Darling was strong once again, denying the Blues all but twice (a 2-on-1 goal from Magnus Paajarvi and a power-play goal from Alex Pietrangelo).

Toews and Kane (power-play goal) staked the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead early before the Blues tied it in the second. But late in the third period Anisimov took the feed from Artemi Panarin to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.

"I saw the puck all the way. It was easy to pick up," Anisimov said. "When you don't see the puck at the last moment and it comes, it's hard to receive and prepare for the next move. But I saw it all the way. Easy to prepare for the next move."

Speaking of next moves, do the Blackhawks make any more before the trade deadline. General manager Stan Bowman said on Friday, following the acquisition of Tomas Jurco, that he'll keep talking and listening but likes the group he has right now. If Bowman's made moves it's for what the Blackhawks have needed, not because of another team's trades. The Blackhawks like what they have right now. Winning nine of 10 and continuing to trend in the right direction, they should be careful not to disrupt what they've got going.

"I think we're, as we've said lately, trending the right way. We're playing solid. I think all four lines are contributing in every which way," Toews said. "I love our group right now. Everyone is getting better individually, contributing more and more and it's a lot of fun to see the way we're playing right now. We know that the ceiling is way higher and we can keep getting better too."