Maria Sorokina (via Twitter/Andre Ringuette/HHOF Images)
Russian goaltender Maria Sorokina is paying tribute to Alexei Cherepanov at the Women’s World Championships in Malmo, Sweden. On the side of her mask, she has Cherepanov looking up while sitting on the bench. Cherepanov passed away in 2008.
Goaltenders have used mask art to pay tribute to troops, they’ve shown their love for family and friends and in some cases the legends who came before them. For Russia’s Maria Sorokina, her mask for the Women’s World Championship honors the life of Alexei Cherepanov.
Cherepanov, you may recall, was drafted 17th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2007 draft. While playing in the KHL for Avangard Omsk in 2008, Cherepanov tragically passed away at the age of 19. During an October 2008 contest against Vityaz Chekhov, Cherepanov returned to the bench following a shift, collapsed and was later pronounced dead. His death shocked the hockey world.
Sorokina’s tribute to the once promising Russian player is on the left panel of her mask. It features Cherepanov, sitting on the bench in his Avangard jersey, staring up in the direction of the Russian Coat of Arms.
It’s not the first tribute to Cherepanov, however. Shortly after his death, Avangard retired Cherepanov’s No. 7 jersey, the KHL renamed their trophy for top rookie to the Alexei Cherepanov Award and an under-20 tournament was named in his honors.
In one appearance at the Women’s Worlds, which are being held in Malmo, Sweden, Sorokina has a .933 save percentage and 2.02 goals-against average, allowing one goal against on 15 shots against Canada on Saturday.
Russia, which sits at the bottom of Group A after two games in the preliminary round, has just one point and likely won’t make it out of the round robin.