Taking place at The SSE Arena, Belfast on Wednesday 19 April 2023, the one-off international will be contested between a purpose-built Belfast Giants All Stars team – consisting of current and former Giants players and a few special guests – and Ukrainian National Championship side Dnipro Kherson. The two teams will face off in aid of the charity Ukrainian Hockey Dream which is part of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine’s ‘Hockey Can’t Stop Tour’.
Ukrainian Hockey Dream is the registered charity foundation of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine, whose mission it is to support and sustain Ukrainian hockey during the Russo-Ukrainian war and beyond. The charity’s goals include providing safety and support for players and staff, youth and professional training, and arena restoration and development throughout Ukraine.
Martin McDowell, chair of The Odyssey Trust, said: “The Odyssey Trust is delighted to be hosting this truly special event at The SSE Arena, Belfast in support of Ukrainian Hockey Dream – a fantastic organisation that’s making an immeasurable difference to people’s lives. All of the proceeds from the game’s ticket sales will be donated to Ukrainian Hockey Dream in support of their continued work to reinstate ice hockey throughout Ukraine.”
Founded in 1998, Dnipro Kherson has won the Black Sea Cup a record-breaking four times, including being crowned back-to-back-to-back champions between 2010 and 2013. The game will help Ukrainian Hockey Dream to work towards their 2022/23 global fundraising goal of $15.6m, all of which will be used to support up to 7,500 young players, professionals, coaches, and staff members, across more than 100 clubs and 15 schools throughout Ukraine.
Robert Fitzpatrick, chief executive officer of The Odyssey Trust, said: “Sport has the power to bring people together – especially during challenging times. Ukraine is a prominent sporting nation, epitomised by a proud ice hockey history, and we feel incredibly privileged to be able to play a part in supporting Ukrainian Hockey Dream’s charitable ambitions through this one-of-a-kind game right here in Belfast.”
With approximately 60% of young ice hockey players in Ukraine forced to abandon their homes and relocate, and 40% of all ice arenas in Ukraine either seized or destroyed, Ukrainian Hockey Dream’s main fundraising aims are to provide young people across Ukraine with opportunities to get back on the ice through the supply of equipment, coaching, and infrastructure.
Georgii Zubko, president of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine, said: “We are grateful for the support from the Belfast Giants – for real hockey help from real hockey people. We are honoured to bring our Dnipro Kherson team, a young talented group of players, to The SSE Arena, Belfast.
“In these tough times, we believe that ice hockey, the game that we love so much, can become a bridge towards a peaceful future, uniting people and providing hope and meaning.”
Steve Thornton, head of hockey at The Stena Line Belfast Giants, added: “A crowd of over 7,000 people is expected at The SSE Arena, Belfast for this game. We look forward to welcoming Dnipro Kherson to the land of the Giants for a fixture that is far bigger and means more than just the action on the ice.”
If you can't make it to the game or would like to make an additional contribution to Ukrainian Hockey Dream, please donate via the GoFundMe page below.