Date: May 24, 2018

UN Environment to host ‘Last Game’ for the Arctic at the North Pole

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By UN Environment.org

The Arctic is one of the earth’s most fragile ecosystems, dis proportionally affected by climate change and warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet. To garner global attention and support for the rapidly disappearing ice in the Polar regions, UN Environment is organizing the ‘last ice hockey game in the Arctic’ in spring 2019.

The game is spearheaded by legendary Russian ice hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov, who was designated UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions this week.

“The world today is very fragile and it’s our duty to do everything to unite people and nations to remind them that we don’t have a planet B,” Fetisov said. “Sport and environment are two spheres that will unite people and help us to protect the Earth – our common heritage.”

The frightening speed of climate change is particularly visible in the Arctic. This winter the temperature at the North Pole was well above normal. Ships navigated the Arctic Passage without icebreakers for the first time as the age, thickness and extent of sea ice cover in the Arctic decreased.

The hockey game, to be played in spring 2019, will take place on an ice rink on the North Pole. The teams will include ice hockey players and sports personalities from around the world, as well as Arctic indigenous peoples and youth.

The symbolic event is a wake-up call to the world, highlighting climate models projecting that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free by 2040. During the event, the teams will phone the United Nations Secretary-General from the North Pole.

“We simply cannot ignore the threat of climate change to the Arctic regions of our earth. Once this fragile ecosystem is disturbed, it may never recover,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment. “I am grateful to see great athletes like Viacheslav Fetisov lending their names to this ‘last call for the Arctic’ and make the world aware that we have to take action. It is now or never.”

Viacheslav Fetisov has frequently drawn attention to the polar region over the years; for example working towards the establishment of the marine protected area in the Ross Sea in Antarctica and orchestrating a massive beach cleanup in the Russian Arctic in 2017.

Changes in the Arctic affect weather patterns across the world with severe consequences for humans, societies, and nature. In light of this, Viacheslav will use his new position as Patron for Polar Regions to strengthen awareness of some of the most urgent environmental issues, including climate change, pollution, ocean protection, clean water, national parks and sustainable tourism.

About Viacheslav Fetisov

Fetisov is a legendary Soviet ice hockey player, one of the best defensemen in the history of world ice hockey. During his career, he won two gold medals at the Winter Olympics and was a two-time winner of the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings.

In 2015, Fetisov was the first person in Russia to support the campaign to create the marine protected area in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Throughout the years he has lent his support to several environmental initiatives in the region, including Lewis Pugh’s (UN Environment Patron of the Oceans) cleanup on Lake Baikal, Russia and the Antarctica 2020 campaign for the creation of more arctic marine protected areas. In September 2017, he orchestrated the biggest beach cleanup in the Russian Arctic.

Capitals defeat Lightning in Game 7 to reach first Stanley Cup Final since 1998

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By Kevin Allen – USA Today

Last fall, defenseman Matt Niskanen could foresee unprecedented success for this Washington Capitals team for the oddest of reasons.

“I said to my wife, ‘On paper, we’re not as good this year, but watch, this will be the year we do something,’ ” he recalled. “Just the way it works. Hockey is a funny sport.”

The Capitals had both tears and laughter Wednesday night when they downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to earn the franchise’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1998.

Washington will face the Vegas Golden Knights in an unlikely best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final starting Monday in Las Vegas.

The Capitals are trying to win their first Stanley Cup in their 44-year history and the Golden Knights have qualified for the Final in their first NHL season.

“I’m happy for the fans because they’ve been through some tough times with us and teams of the past,” Washington winger T.J. Oshie said.

 Nobody on the Capitals was happier than captain Alex Ovechkin, 32, who had never been beyond the second round of the playoffs before this season. He has often been blamed for the Capitals’ poor playoff performances in recent years.

But Washington’s playoff misery started long before Ovechkin’s arrival in 2005. Before downing the Lightning, the Capitals were 4-11 in Game 7s. In their one Stanley Cup Final appearance 20 years ago, they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

When he was interviewed on television, immediately after beating the Lightning, Ovechkin said he was having trouble sorting through his emotions.

But then he put everything into perspective by saying: “Finally.”

“I think everybody is happy, but we still have unfinished (business),” Ovechkin said. “I’m emotional. I think we’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”

Ovechkin, the NHL’s most dangerous scorer in this era, is considered to be among the greatest players never to have won a Stanley Cup.

Andre Burakovsky, born in Austria and raised in Sweden, was Washington’s offensive hero with a pair of goals, but it was Ovechkin who launched the win by scoring the first goal of the game just 1:02 in. He also led his team with five hits in Game 7.

With 12 goals, 10 assists and 66 hits, Ovechkin has been beastly in the postseason. He is one of the top Conn Smythe Trophy candidates going into the Final.

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NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly presents the Prince of
Wales Trophy to Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin

Just by the way Ovechkin has talked about this team, it was clear that he believed the Capitals had the right mix to be successful even though general manager Brian MacLellan made several changes last summer to ease salary cap concerns. The Capitals were supposed to take a half-step back, but ended up taking a step forward in terms of being ready for the playoffs.

Coach Barry Trotz, whose contract expires at the completion of the season, has been vocal about how much he believed in this team. He apparently told his players that again before Game 7.

“When a coach comes in without a cheat sheet in his hand and speaks from the heart and you see in his eyes that he believes what he’s saying it gives you a lift,” Oshie said. “It shows you he’s all in, and the only thing left is for us to do our job. We did that.” 

The hallmark of this Capitals team is their ability to dig deep when they need to the most. They trailed 3-2 in this series, and then won Games 6 and 7 on shutouts by Braden Holtby. He has gone more than 157 minutes without giving up a goal.

“Holts was fantastic back there,” Oshie said. “Back to back shutouts against a team like that on this stage is special.”

This team has been special, according to the Capitals. “We have a good mix of everything. We have some old players with experience,” Washington center Nicklas Backstrom said. “We’ve got some new, young players, which is great. I feel like everyone has been stepping up during the playoffs. We were doing all right during the regular season, but I feel like we’ve been playing even better as a team in the playoffs.”

He shared a moment with Ovechkin as the team celebrated on the ice.

“After it was done, I felt like you don’t even have to say so much,” Backstrom said. “You just have to look at each other. We’ve been waiting a long time for this. Now we’re in the finals and we’re going to do everything we can to do something special here for us, for the team and for the city.”