Teen hockey player who fled Ukraine getting VIP treatment from Vancouver Giants

The Vancouver Giants are rolling out the red carpet for a 15-year-old hockey player from Ukraine who recently fled his war-torn country to come to Metro Vancouver.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Dany Bereza’s family in Kyiv contacted another hockey family they know in Surrey. They asked if Bereza could come live with them and it went from there.

“My mother and me live in region where lots of bombs were there, and lots of military, so it was pretty unsafe,” he said in an interview with CTV News.

It took Bereza days to get to Poland, and days more to get to Canada. As he travelled through his country to the border, he saw the devastation from the fighting.

“Kyiv was almost destroyed. Some cities around Kyiv were destroyed, only some buildings left. So it was pretty tough, but I’m finally here,” he said.

But Bereza, who plays a high level of hockey in Ukraine, arrived in Canada with little more than a backpack. Logistics and safety issues prevented him from being able to bring his hockey equipment along.

The Vancouver Giants heard his story and extended an invitation for Bereza to come to their Friday night game against the Everett Silvertips.

“We’re in the business of hockey, but we’re also in the business of helping young men grow into good young citizens,” said Vancouver Giants senior vice-president Dale Saip.

“This is Canada. This is what we do. This is how we help. This is what we’ve become and this is the kind of country we’re supposedly supposed to be so let’s get back at it,” said Saip.

Prior to the game, Bereza, who has been playing hockey since he was five years old, met some of the Giants.

“It’s a fantastic experience. WHL is a pretty high level for junior play and I hope some day I will play there,” he said.

“It’s an awesome arena, awesome locker room, awesome players and a fantastic game.”

The Giants gave him with a pair of hockey gloves, but next week they will also get him all new equipment.

“These kids have it tough enough these days without complicating it with fleeing a war. This is an easy help for us,” said Saip.

The Giants will also get him back on the ice.

Saip said the team will “try to figure out what level he’s at and do a bit of an evaluation and kind of co-ordinate getting him involved with the appropriate group.”

Bereza is thrilled with the team’s offer and excited about the opportunity to return to playing the game he loves.

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