That means staying up until 4:30 a.m., but Steve Rock is cheering on the Calgary Flames of Ukraine.
Rock, 34, was traveling in Europe when Russia invaded Ukraine. He wanted to find a way to be helpful, so after several tough conversations with family and friends, he decided to volunteer with organizations working in the war-torn country, including Helping Ukraine Grassroots Support (HUGS), founded in Calgary, which provides aid to the country.
Rock is now distributing essential food and medical supplies in Lviv, Bakhmut and Kyiv, while wearing a red and black Flames jersey. The Ottawa native says his support for the Calgary hockey team is “complicated.”
“We all know the Senators aren’t in the game this year, and I’m not cheering for the Leafs,” he said.
“The Battle of Alberta is a huge thing. It’s a big thing for Albertans,” he said, adding that if he has to stay late to watch hockey games, he wants to wear the colors. of the team.
Calgary will face the Edmonton Oilers in Game 2 of the playoff series on Friday.
Although nothing about watching the playoffs is normal for Rock — he wears ceramic plates for protection under his jersey, and he frequently wakes up to the sound of shelling and attacks around him — he says he connects with the playoffs of the NHL and wearing the jersey gives him something to lift his spirits and a sense of normalcy.
“Even though there’s a lot of chaos and crazy stuff here, being able to listen to at least one game and cheer on a home team these days is something pretty special,” Rock said.
“The thing is, the jersey brings smiles because it makes people forget you’re wearing armor underneath.”
Rock says it’s important for Canadians to remember that the conflict is still ongoing.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in the biggest attack on a European country since World War II, causing millions to flee. Since then, some towns have been largely reduced to rubble and thousands of civilians have died.
“A lot of important things are happening here and there are a lot of needs here. And if everyone can do what they can to support Ukraine – Ukrainians and all the work that is done here – that’s really the best thing.”