Ex-Gopher Angell has bad memories from Russian travel

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 7, 2011 - 9:32 PM

Nick Angell played in the KHL last year and played with two of the 43 players killed. Asked if he always felt safe flying in Russia, he said: "Absolutely not."

hide

Former Gophers defenseman Nick Angell

Photo: RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Former Gophers men's hockey player Nick Angell gets only two English-speaking television channels at his apartment in Berlin. But what he saw on the screen upon arriving home from practice Wednesday came through poignantly in any language.

"I saw something right away about a plane crash in Yaroslavl and like 38 people or whatever were killed and I thought, 'Oh [no], I hope it wasn't that hockey team,' " Angell said via phone. "I did a quick thing in my head like, 'Who do I know in Yaroslavl?'"

Angell soon found out it was the team, and hoped for the best thinking maybe there would be more survivors.

But through text messages with players around the globe, Angell's fears were confirmed.

Two of the players killed in Wednesday's crash -- goaltenders Stefan Liv and Alexander Vyukhim -- were former overseas teammates.

He declined to elaborate on his friendship with either player, saying only he knew Liv, an Olympian from Sweden, better.

"I'm sick to my stomach," Angell said." I am at a loss for words. It's a huge blow for fans, players and hockey in general."

The crash killed 43 people in all, including former Wild standout Pavol Demitra.

Angell, 31, played at Duluth East before helping the Gophers win the 2002 NCAA championship as a senior defenseman. He is in his ninth season playing overseas. He played on teams in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Germany before spending last season in the Kontinental Hockey League -- the same league as the ill-fated Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team.

Angell spent most of the last season with the KHL team Metallurg Novokuznetsk in southwestern Siberia. The team flew a chartered Tu-134 aircraft when on the road. Angell compared its appearance to "a World War II bomber."

The Yak-42 plane that crashed Wednesday was an improvement -- a newer model -- from those planes, Angell said.

"Where I was, we were 5 1/2 hours from Moscow, so that was a lot of flying," Angell said. The airplanes, he said, "looked [poor] from the outside. Inside, they're actually kind of nice. But, you know, I never got a look on the inside at the engine."

Angell was asked if he always felt safe flying in Russia.

"Absolutely not," he said. "There's no safety check or anything. Just get on, take off.

"I've never had an experience where we dropped 400 meters or anything; it was actually pretty good. But that plane we had, even though it was smooth sailing, it had a glass-nose front."

Angell said the plane his team used could not be used to fly into Latvia. Instead, the team had to land in Moscow and switch planes.

"From what I understand, our plane was not allowed," he said.

Angell had the chance to play in the KHL again this season, but opted to go back to Germany -- where he's playing for the Berlin Polar Bears and is reunited with former Gophers teammate Barry Tallackson -- for a welcomed change of pace.

"You can imagine the difference between Siberia and Berlin," he said. "I had the KHL experience one year, and it was enough for me there."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Cleveland 11/6/14 7:25 PM
Cincinnati
Memphis 97 FINAL
Indiana 89
Cleveland 114 FINAL
Chicago 108
Philadelphia 81 FINAL
Milwaukee 93
Portland 94 FINAL
Sacramento 103
San Antonio 89 FINAL
Phoenix 94
LA Clippers 118 FINAL
LA Lakers 111
Toronto 4 FINAL
Columbus 1
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Detroit 5
Anaheim 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 1
Nashville 3 FINAL
Calgary 4
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 38 FINAL
Tulane 14
Tulsa 20 FINAL
Memphis 40
Air Force 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Memphis 11/7/14 6:30 PM
Temple
Utah State 11/7/14 7:00 PM
Wyoming
(12) Baylor 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(19) Oklahoma
(11) Kansas State 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(10) TCU
Hamilton 34 FINAL
Ottawa 25
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close