Larionov, Red Wings hit the ice

Chris Freud
Special to the DailyHockey legend Igor Larionov leads the Detroit Red Wings Alumni into their annual series with the Vail Mountaineers this weekend. The teams play at Dobson Friday and the Eagle Ice Rink Saturday. The puck drops at 7:30 both nights.

VAIL – The good news for the Vail Mountaineers is that the Detroit Red Wings Alumni will not be bringing Vladislav Tretiak for their annual visit to Dobson in Vail and the Eagle Ice Rink Friday and Saturday, respectively.The bad news for the Mountaineers – at least on the ice – is that the Red Army will be represented. The Red Wings are coming to town with Igor Larionov.No. 8 only has three Stanley Cups, two Olympic golds and a bronze, four world championships and a Canada Cup title, making him one of the most prolific hockey players in the history of the game.”I guess the analogy, I would say, it’s kind of like going to a Nuggets’ game and having the hoop dropped down to about 6 feet for the Nuggets. A no-check hockey game with a guy like that,” Vail Mountaineer Andy Clark said with a laugh. “We’ve got a good team. This is from our point, preparation-wise, the best we’ve had in years.”Welcome to the Red Wings versus the Mountaineers, the 15th edition -super-sized.

The Red WingsFinding ringers is a tradition in this series and Detroit has outdone itself this year. In addition to Igor-what’s-his-name, former Red Army and Winnipeg Jets star Sergei Kahrin will be suiting up.Look for Mike Krushelnyski who played with the Bruins, Oilers, Kings, Maple Leafs and Red Wings. Krushelnyski won some Stanley Cups with some guy named Wayne Gretzky in the 80s.Bill Muckalt, recently of the Minnesota Wild and Dave Roberts of the St. Louis Blues will be in town. Between the pipes, it will be Jim Bedard, Detroit’s goaltending coach. And, oh yeah, Red Wing regulars like Dennis Hextall and Rob Palmer are coming, too.

Responding in kindThe Mountaineers are by no means, rolling over. They’ve got a few hired guns of their own. Avs head coach and former player Joel Quenneville will be on the blueline for Vail Friday as well as Tony Granato. Saturday, down in Eagle, the buzz is that fans could be seeing a current Avalanche player or two.If there’s any benefit to the NHL’s labor strife, this is it.”What I’m most excited about is not only is the caliber of play because it will be phenomenal, but at a time when depending on which side of the fence you’re on – owners or players – everyone’s hand is out,” Clark said. “You’ve got an organization like the Alumni that are giving back. That’s so important because the message to our kids is that it is a great sport. Regardless of what they do at the NHL level, look at what’s going to happen in your own rink.”

The Mountaineers also feature a bunch of local talent, starting with Brian Desmond, Don Mercier and Dick Hoene. There’s some youth in the line of Matt Merritt, Matt Blake and Chad Warren. And once again, the line of Gary Defina, Clark and Scott Thurston will be lacing them up.In net, look for James McGalliard and Lonnie Bredson.Other activitiesThe action is not limited to the games themselves, which start at 7:30 p.m. Before each game there will be youth hockey clinics with the Red Wings. Friday from 5-6 p.m., the Wings will be at the Altitiude Club, signing autographs.

During intermissions, the kids will be taking on the Red Wings, which is always a sight to see. Kids going to the game will receive a picture of Larionov hoisting the Stanley Cup.After the games, the Red Wings will be at Vendetta’s Friday and the new Pazzo’s in Eagle Saturday. Tickets for the games, which benefit the Vail Recreation District’s youth hockey program as well as the Eagle Valley Skating Association, are $10 each for adults and $6 for kids. Children under 8 are free.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or, Colorado

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