A new-look Lokomotiv Yaroslavl took to the ice competitively Monday for the first time since September’s plane crash that wiped out the entire team and coaching staff.
The team, a hastily assembled squad of youth players from Lokomotiv and loans from other clubs, were re-entering the sport in the second-tier Major Hockey League to face Neftyanik Almetyevsk in Yaroslavl.
A video tribute to their perished predecessors was projected onto the ice before the game, including the slogans “We will remember” and “We will triumph,” eliciting tears among the new generation.
A minute’s silence followed.
Lokomotiv’s previous squad, among the favorites for the top-level Continental Hockey League (KHL) title this season, were killed on route to their opening game in Minsk. Forty-five people died when their Yak-42 jet crashed just after take-off from Yaroslavl.
Days after the crash, the team announced it would participate for one season in the Major Hockey League before returning to the KHL.
The team is coached by Piotr Vorobiev, who returned to Lokomotiv for a second stint as manager after the disaster, replacing Canadian coach Brad McCrimmon. who perished in September's crash..
The regular season final standings of the Major Hockey League’s Western conference, in which Lokomotiv are participating, will be determined by win percentage because the club joins mid-term and are only able to play 22 of the 53 matches.