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Russians edge North Americans in Global Legends charity game

Sunday, 04.14.2013 / 10:52 AM ET / News
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Russians edge North Americans in Global Legends charity game



NEWARK, N.J. -- Andrei Kovalenko scored a hat trick and added an assist as Team Russia defeated the North American squad, 7-6, in the Global Legends charity game staged Saturday at the Prudential Center.

The event gave fans the opportunity to watch and meet some of the game's biggest names. But more importantly, the event and related charitable activities raised more than $50,000 for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

What started as a conversation between former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko and Kontinental Hockey League president Alexander Medvedev eventually produced the charity game. Tickets only went on sale 11 days before puck drop, but a strong fan contingent made it out regardless.

"I got to know Alex Medvedev, who is so generous with his time and with his resources. We approached [Devils owner, Jeff] Vanderbeek and he was very interested as long as we could figure out a time," said Daneyko, who personally called friends and former teammates about taking part. "We've all been affected. I've been in Jersey 30 years. I'm very tentative to ask guys, because it's tough to get them out of their busy schedules. Almost every guy said they'll be there."

Ticket revenue was only part of the funds collected for the event. Autographed memorabilia was auctioned off in the arena's main concourse and, in an interesting twist on philanthropy, players auctioned off their own jerseys on the ice between periods. Stephane Richer sold two separate jersey-and-stick combinations for $3,000 each.

And while the game started slowly in the first period, the action picked up as players found their legs, not to mention their competitive spirit.

"I don't do this at all. This is my first game ever since I retired. But when Ken Daneyko called and said he was putting together a game for Sandy Relief, I said yes right away," said Brendan Shanahan, the former Devil and Ranger who currently serves as the NHL's Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations. "You want to have fun and you know the guy you're playing with is probably in the same boat as you. He went down to look for the equipment last night. At the same time, that competitiveness is always in you."

The Russian team, coached by longtime Soviet great Sergei Makarov, took the lead midway through the first when Rustem Kamaletdinov finished a cross-ice pass from Alexey Pogonin. His quick shot beat North American goaltender Chris Terreri and gave the Russian Legends a 1-0 lead.

Kovalenko got his first of the game a few minutes later, making a nice move on Terreri after being awarded a penalty shot, which were handed out by longtime NHL referee Kerry Fraser instead of two-minute penalties. Victor Gordiuk gave the Russians a 3-0 lead just 1:42 later.

Down after two periods, the North American line of Shanahan, Bill Guerin and Brian Propp started taking control. The trio combined for 1,510 goals in their respective careers and got the North American Legends on the board 6:51 into the second when Guerin put home a rebound off his own shot. Kovalenko would score his second of the game moments later, followed by a Shanahan goal that made for three scores in a 2:26 span.

Kovalenko would complete his hat trick late in the period before earning an assist on Vladimir Malakhov's goal 34 seconds later. The former Devil and Islander's goal made the score 6-2, but the action was picking up and the crowd was getting louder.

"It was very competitive. I could feel the camaraderie," said Rod Gilbert, the former Rangers great who served as a coach for the North American Legends alongside Phil Esposito and Chico Resch. "It was not that long ago when I quit playing these alumni games. But I'm glad I wasn't out there, the pace was really fast. I think the fans enjoyed it."

Although the game grew more intense, there was also time for levity among players. Early in the third, Grant Marshall responded to Vitali Prokhorov's hit from behind by kissing the Russian defenseman on the check. Minutes later, with Russian goaltender Andrey Malkov pulled after the North American Legends were assessed a delayed penalty, former Ranger Ron Duguay ignored the referees whistle and scored into an empty net, making sure to celebrate the play.

The ensuing penalty shot pitted Malakhov against Mark LaForest, who replaced Terreri in the third period. While the Russian defenseman slowly strided towards the North American net, Marshall jokingly threw a glove in his path.

Those jokes may have helped the North American Legends catch their Russian counterparts off guard.

Three third-period goals in less than six minutes courtesy of Jim Dowd, Shanahan and Marshall cut the Russian lead to 6-5 and got the mostly-partisan crowd going. But when Valeri Kamensky scored on a penalty shot with just over five minutes remaining, the game appeared to be in hand. Rangers legend Brian Leetch scored late to make the game close, but the Russian Legends held on for the 7-6 win, a result that hardly mattered when the final horn sounded.

"It was great to see friends, teammates," Kamensky said. "It was a great game. Good for fans, good for everybody."

With players staying on the ice after the final whistle to sign autographs for fans, the event slowly came to a close having done a lot in a short time to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy. And for the players who participated, many of whom still live in the New York/New Jersey area, it was nice to see old friends while giving something back.

"A lot of us live here in Jersey, so a lot of us witnessed [Sandy] firsthand. This was just a tremendous turnout by everybody," Terreri said. "It's great to see some old friends. You can't say enough about the way they put it on. It was tremendous."

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 70 16 25 -3 41
M. Cammalleri 63 27 13 3 40
P. Elias 64 11 21 -16 32
S. Gomez 53 7 24 -8 31
S. Bernier 62 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 69 11 12 -4 23
A. Larsson 59 3 20 3 23
A. Greene 77 3 18 2 21
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 57 6 12 -3 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 28 9 .927 2.20
K. Kinkaid 5 5 3 .918 2.47