Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/25/13 at 06:27 AM ET
from Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN,
A trip to the rural corners of Lancaster County is like being locked inside a Cracker Barrel. The houses smell like freshly baked bread. There are rocking chairs everywhere, sort of a reminder to slow down and take everything in. Cruise down Route 72, through the rolling hills, and occasionally a horse and buggy will snarl traffic. But that's OK; there's no hurry. Unless, of course, you're chasing something big.
For weeks, the locals had no idea that a Russian hockey team was living among them, running stadium steps, riding a mechanical bull and yelling, "Yeah baby!" after intense workouts. In their Under Armour shirts and Hollister shorts, the players look like average American teenagers. They're not.
This story started two years ago, nearly 5,000 miles away, when a Russian plane crashed and the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional hockey team perished. The world is a great big place, but the hockey world is small. Everyone in the sport was affected that September day in 2011. Players from all over Russia signed up to be part of a new Lokomotiv team in honor of their former teammates, friends and opponents. An American, Tom Rowe, moved to Russia to coach them, even though he didn't speak a lick of the language.
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