At the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., on April 8 are the three professional Ukrainian boxers who fought that evening (from left): Oleksandr Usyk, Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

Ukrainians highlight first boxing card at MGM National Harbor

It was an unprecedented North American sporting event when the inaugural fight card at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., on April 8 featured three professional Ukrainian boxers – Vasyl Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk and Oleksandr Gvozdyk. The main event had WBO super featherweight (junior lightweight) champion Lomachenko against Jason Sosa of the U.S.A., preceded by light heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk versus Yunieski Gonzalez of the U.S.A., and cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk squaring off against Michael Hunter of the U.S.A.

Countless Ukrainian fans and supporters packed the arena, raucously cheering the names of their countrymen during their respective bouts, switching off to loud chants of “U-kra-yi-na” as a change of cheer. All three Ukrainian pugilists were victorious in their fights – a three-fight Ukrainian sweep. Lomachenko disposes of Sosa in ninth round

Frustration is an operative word when describing Lomachenko’s pro boxing career. Frustrated in not getting fights against top opponents, Lomachenko releases his frustration against challengers like Sosa.

Dynamo Kyiv’s Yaroslav Nadolskyi (left) connects with the ball in midair as Torontonian Daniel Nimilovitch closes in during a friendly match on April 3 in Kyiv between Dynamo U.S.A.-Canada and the under-16 team of Dynamo Kyiv.

Diaspora soccer team takes on legendary Dynamo Kyiv farm teams

KYIV – To North Americans it’s “soccer,” but to the rest of the world it’s “football” – the term most commonly used to describe the globe’s premier spectator sport. Ukraine during the week of April 3-7 saw practitioners of what Brazilian soccer legend Pele coined “the beautiful game” in a cross-Atlantic duel of three separate matches. An amalgamation of 17- and 16-year-old players of Ukrainian heritage from the U.S. and Canada formed a team to play exhibition matches with farm teams of one of Europe’s most titled soccer clubs: Dynamo Kyiv. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the North Americans to test their skills against players who live and breathe soccer on a daily basis at the club’s football academy where pupils live in a boarding house and practice twice a day, except on Sundays, while attending school. “The purpose of this trip is to give the boys a little bit more experience and to show them an international level of soccer and also to show them Ukraine,” said Semen Shor, the ad hoc team’s coach who runs a soccer school in the Detroit metropolitan area together with his father, Leonid Shor, himself a graduate of Dynamo’s soccer academy.

Ukrainian pro hockey update

How Gretzky became an Oiler 

Wayne Gretzky was named one of “The NHL’s 100,” the top 100 players in the history of the National Hockey League’s 100 years of existence. This is the first in a series featuring the six Ukrainian hockey stars selected to this elite group. On August 9, 1988, the Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky, Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, millions of dollars and three first-round draft picks. Did you know this was not the first time Gretzky was moved? Gretzky started his professional career with the World Hockey Association’s Indianapolis Racers, not Edmonton.

Ukrainian peo sports update: tennis

Svitolina achieves top-10 ranking

The start of a new tennis season and a coaching change could not derail Elina Svitolina’s momentum from last year’s success on the courts. Svitolina’s ambition to build on her achievements in 2016, when she became the first woman since 2010 to beat two top-ranked women in the same year, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber of Germany, led her to spend Christmas away from home. She was seeded sixth at the Brisbane International tournament, the first competition of 2017 and a prelude to the Australian Open. She was the first to arrive in Brisbane – a full week before the tournament’s commencement – wanting to get in lots of practice. The strategy proved beneficial as Svitolina defeated Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, Shelby Rogers of the U.S.A. and No.

The Edmonton Lions receive the championship trophy of the 2017 Alexander Cup.

Edmonton Lions win 2017 Alexander Cup International Ukrainian Hockey Tournament

TORONTO – The second annual Alexander Cup International Ukrainian Hockey Tournament was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on February 18-19. The tournament is hosted by the Ukrainian Sports Federation of U.S.A. and Canada (USCAK). Tournament participants included five teams: Kontakt (Toronto) and the Toronto Kozaks, the Montreal Ukie Club from Quebec, the Edmonton U.A. Lions from Alberta and the New Jersey Kings from New Jersey, U.S.A.

On Saturday, February 18, the tournament held five round robin games where teams picked MVPs from the opposing team.  MVP medals were awarded during the reception on Saturday evening at Baby Point Lounge, where festivities lasted into the wee hours of the morning.  MVP recipients were especially honoured as they felt their selection by competitors from peers of their opposition was the most prestigious form of recognition. On Sunday morning, February 19, at 10:30 a.m. the Toronto Kozaks and the New Jersey Kings fought for the right to move on to the semifinals.  New Jersey drew first blood, but Toronto rallied with six straight goals. New Jersey fought back in the third period with two more goals but had to settle for fifth place with a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Kozaks.  In the first semifinal, Edmonton Lions easily handled Montreal Ukie Club with a 5-1 win, advancing to the gold-medal final.

Andrew Kozak (left), the champion among men age 56-59, with fellow competitors (from left) Yuriy Kucher, Peter Lenchur and Mark Pawliczko.

Skiers of all ages compete in 63rd annual KLK races

HUNTER, N.Y. – The 63rd annual ski races of the Carpathian Ski Club, known by its Ukrainian acronym as KLK, were conducted at Hunter Mountain on Saturday, February 25. Skiers of all ages – from age 6 to 75 – competed on a warm February day, taking a couple of runs down the official NASTAR (National Standard Race) course set up for the event. The rainy weather that had been forecast for the day did not materialize, and the races went on without a hitch. Later that day, at a dinner held at Hunter Mountain’s Copper Tree Restaurant, skiers received the awards they’d earned. The ski resort’s general manager, Russ Coloton, was in attendance to greet the participants of this family-oriented event as well as loyal supporters of KLK.

Sportsline

Olympics

• Twenty-eight Russian Olympic athletes at the 2014 Sochi Games are having their samples retested by the International Olympic Committee. Manipulations of the samples, it said, could lead to sanctions. Russia won 33 medals, 13 of which were gold. All of this comes after Prof. Richard McLaren’s report that showed a state-sponsored doping program in Russia between 2011 and 2015, and masked results using salt, coffee and in some cases male urine was used for female hockey players. Samples from the 2010 Vancouver Games are also being retested.

Sportsline

Soccer

• Shakhtar Donetsk has advanced to the Round of 32 in the UEFA Europa League. The team won 1-0 against Celta Vigo of Spain on February 16 in the first-leg match. Shakhtar plays on February 23 in the second-leg match (played at Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv). A win for Shakhtar advances them to the round of 16 and the draw is to be announced on February 24 in Nyon, France, with matches to begin on March 9 and 16. In Group 8, Shakhtar won 4-2 against Braga on December 8, 2016, and led the group with 18 points, (six wins, and no losses).

chrebet-hof-jan-28th-2017-jets-006

Ukrainian Sports Hall of Fame presents plaque to Wayne Chrebet

NEW YORK – Wayne Chrebet, the former wide receiver for the New York Jets football team (1995-2005), was presented a plaque by Myron Bytz and Teo Bodnar of the Ukrainian Sports Museum and Hall of Fame on January 28 at a N.Y. Jets meet-and-greet event at Jets House, located at SPIN New York.  Mr. Chrebet, who said he is proud of his Ukrainian lineage, in 2014 was inducted by the Jets franchise as a member of its Ring of Honor. The Ukrainian Sports Museum and Hall of Fame is located at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey in Whippany and is open Saturdays and Sundays 12 noon to 6 p.m.

Ukrainian pro hockey update

Bozak a centerpiece in Toronto

The past off-season saw a lot of changes in the Toronto Maple Leafs line-up with their recent successful drafts creating an influx of several top prospects. Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner, to name three, have the club trending away from league doormats to potential playoff contenders. It also has created a logjam at the center position, where the Leafs suddenly boast four quality centermen. Rookies Matthews and Nylander join veterans Nazem Kadri and Ukrainian Tyler Bozak to form a strong nucleus up the middle of the ice. When both are healthy, Bozak and Kadri have been Toronto’s No.