Alexei Kovalev hadn’t played professional hockey in two seasons, but he suited up as an injury replacement Tuesday and picked up an assist. His night didn’t end well, though.
Alexei Kovalev has spent the past two years enjoying retirement, but duty called in the Swiss second league and the 43-year-old answered.
ECH Visp announced ahead of Tuesday’s game against EV Zug’s Academy team that Kovalev, who retired after a season with the team in 2013-14 was hired on to be the team’s manager this season, was going to be coming out of retirement as an injury replacement.
While Kovalev coming out of retirement may seem completely out of left field, it may not have been so shocking to those within the club. According to the team’s release, Kovalev had been suiting up with the squad in practice since the start of the season and with 26-year-old winger William Rapuzzi injured, Kovalev decided to jump back into the lineup.
And in his return to the ice after a two-year absence, Kovalev had quite the outing.
Just eight minutes into the game, Kovalev picked up an assist on the game’s opening goal by Jon Rheault, but it was mostly downhill from there for the veteran winger. Kovalev ended the first frame with a hooking minor and then found himself out of the game come the final minutes of the third period.
With less than five minutes remaining, Kovalev was whistled for a check from behind, handed a minor and game misconduct. After the misconduct, Kovalev would watch from the sideline as EV Zug won the contest in overtime.
Kovalev’s might get a second chance at suiting up for Visp, though. If Rapuzzi is out for the rest of the week, there’s a chance that Kovalev will suit up against HC Red Ice on Saturday, as that falls within the same one-week period.
During Kovalev’s final pro season with Visp, he was as dominant as one might expect, posting a gaudy 22 goals and 52 points in 44 games as a 41-year-old and adding another seven goals and 17 points in the post-season. Over the course of his NHL career, Kovalev played more than 1,300 games, scoring 430 goals and 1,029 points.
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