The Chicago Wolves are proud to announce rookie forward Ivan Lodnia served as the organization’s nominee for the American Hockey League’s Yanick Dupre Award that goes to the league’s 2021-22 Person of the Year.
Due to season-long health and safety protocols instituted by the AHL, Wolves players have not able to take advantage of as many opportunities to connect with Chicagoans and support local charities with their customary zeal. But Lodnia, a 22-year-old native of Los Angeles, California, transformed his passion for his family’s Ukrainian roots into an urgent social media campaign to support Ukraine.
Lodnia’s father, Konstantin, and his mother, Irina, are from Ukraine. His older sister, Masha, was born in Ukraine. The family moved to the United States in 1996 with a few dollars in their pockets and a deep desire to experience the American dream. Since Ivan was born on Aug. 31, 1999, much of that dream has revolved around him developing into an NHL-worthy player. When Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, it reminded the Lodnias just how much they identify with their homeland — not least because several relatives still live there.
“My uncle just joined the Army there,” Ivan said less than a week into the war. “My aunt, we tried to get her here, but it didn’t work out. So she’s in hiding. My other uncle, he fled. Usually, if you went to Poland, it would take a four-and-a-half or a five-hour drive. It took my uncle 25 hours because there was that much traffic.”
During the opening days of the war, the Wolves were in Winnipeg to face the Manitoba Moose. When Lodnia wasn’t at the rink, he was inhaling every news update he could find. That hasn’t changed much over the ensuing 10 weeks. At one point, Lodnia’s father suggested he was ready to return to Ukraine to join the fight — so Ivan declared he would leave the Wolves and go with him. That stopped Konstantin in his tracks, but that hasn’t stopped them from doing what they can to help from America.
As a symbol of his where his sympathies lie, Lodnia asked Wolves equipment manager Ryan Shoufer to paint the upper yellow stripe on the outside of his skates in blue. Now they look like the Ukrainian flag.
Lodnia also launched a social media campaign and conducted interviews in order to publicize NovaUkraine.org — a non-profit organization that has raised $30 million to help the people of Ukraine. At the family’s ice rink in Anaheim, they’ve been collecting donations and clothes and then sending them to Ukraine.
Each of the AHL’s 31 teams nominated either a worthy player or team employee for this year’s Yanick Dupre Memorial Award. The league announced Thursday that Iowa Wild defenseman Dakota Mermis has received the honor.
The Wolves open the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs at 7 p.m. today when they host the Rockford IceHogs at Allstate Arena for Game 1 of the Central Division Semifinals. For the best seats, visit ChicagoWolves.com/Playoffs or contact a team representative at [email protected].