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The Showdown

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – The Rogers Cup is in town and Mathieu Darche is getting into the tennis spirit.

As part of the festivities surrounding the qualifying round of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Darche headed out to Uniprix Stadium to challenge some tennis stars to a friendly game of ball hockey on Saturday afternoon.

Darche looks to thread a pass through Nieminen.
World singles 44th ranked Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky and 51st ranked Finn Jarkko Nieminen acted as team captains in the three-on-three match-up that also featured Buffalo Sabres defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani and Olympic gold medalists Charline Labonte and Caroline Ouellette.

“I’m Finnish and everyone in Finland pretty much follows hockey,” explained Nieminen, who played with Gragnani and Labonte for the event. “They were really good, but hockey is their sport. They’re fast, but I’ve never seen them play tennis so it’s tough to say but they’re good athletes so they’d probably do pretty well if we played.”

A career in hockey might not be in the cards for either of the tennis stars, but they still managed to make the most of their home-court advantage on Saturday.

“We had four hockey players out here and it was the tennis guys scoring all the goals,” laughed Darche, whose team lost 4-0 to Stakhovsky, Gragnani and Labonte. “They were really good. If we had a rematch in doubles tennis against them, I’d probably have to bring in a guy like Pleky though – I saw a video of him playing and he’s pretty good.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

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