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All Star Pride – Novel Study Activity Guide
by Sigmund Brouwer
Hog Burnell is one of the biggest and toughest players in the WHL. When he is chosen to play on the WHL All-Star team against the Russian All-Stars, he is thrilled. He hopes that proving himself in this series will provide a way for him to step up to the NHL. He could also use the money that would come with a series win by the WHL All-Stars.
Upon arriving in Russia, he learns that life there is very different from life in Canada. Most people are so poor, they are desperate – desperate enough to become involved in illegal activities. It isn’t long before Hog is unwillingly drawn into these activities.
Hog’s roommate in Russia is Chandler Harris, a teammate that Hog does not have a lot of respect for. Chandler gives Hog a thousand dollars and tells him that there is a lot more ways to make money in Russia than by winning hockey games. Hog’s conscience demands that he return the money, but he finds himself in a dilemma when Harris refuses to take it back. His decision is made all the more difficult when he realizes how much his crippled father and hard-working mother could use the money.
Hog soon learns that Chandler is not the only person involved with the money. Nadia, the team’s Russian interpreter, is also part of the mystery. Hog is dismayed when she leads Chandler and himself to Moscow's dangerous black market district. He watches as Chandler hands over a package to someone hidden in a Mercedes. He is also worried when he sees the transaction is being observed by a fearsome-looking man wearing an eye-patch. He begins to suspect that he has been involved because of his size; he would be the perfect body-guard for Chandler and Nadia.
As the series’ wins bounce back and forth, Hog gets drawn further into the mystery. He sees Eye-Patch hitting Nadia and moves to defend her, only to find himself being attacked at knife-point. Later, he finds himself facing US and Russian customs agents. They inform him that he has become involved in an art smuggling ring. They add that Nadia is a double-agent and they would like him to act as one also. If he doesn’t they will make sure he ends up in a Siberian prison.
Nadia and Hog risk their lives to join forces and outwit the criminals. They recover the stolen art, uncover the sinister people involved in the crime, and are rewarded. Hog’s excellent play during the series leads him to be approached by agents from the NHL.