Holiday Viewing, Happy 70th, And So On
Hello! We’re on a bit of a holiday hiatus here, with full posting to resume in early January. In the meantime, however, we have a bit of an update below the jump, so read on!
Today, December 22nd, marks the 70th anniversary of the opening games of the 1946-47 Soviet Championship season, the first in that league’s history. While “puck hockey” (as opposed to bandy, the older form of Russian hockey) had been played in the USSR prior to December of 1946, such games had been few, far between, and generally of the one-off exhibition variety. So in a very real sense, Russian hockey is 70 years old today, and the Russian Hockey Federation has released the video at the top of this post as part of its observance of the occasion. I encourage you to check it out — lots of great old footage!
Most KHL teams, particularly those that were around in the early days, have been marking the anniversary as well, with number-retirements, “retro” sweaters, and the like very much the order of the day. As just one example, Spartak Moscow arrived at today’s game against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in a vintage bus (see photo to the left), and wore versions of the club’s 1940s uniforms for the match itself. For the record, Spartak did in fact play their first ever game on December 22nd, 1946, defeating Dynamo Leningrad 5-1, and they maintained continuity by winning today’s game 2-1. You can click here to see photos of the celebration chez Spartak.
So, a Happy 70th Birthday to Russian hockey, and here’s to 70 more!
As noted above, things will be a bit quiet around here for the next week and a bit due to the holiday season, but there is lots of hockey to be watched in the meantime. The big event on the hockey calendar for the holiday season is, of course, the World Juniors, being held this time around in Montreal and Toronto. That tournament’s group stage begins on December 26th, and Team Russia (roster here) will be in action that day against her age-old Canadian rivals in Toronto. One player on Team Russia to keep a particular eye on? Forward Kirill Kaprizov, who at 19 years old has scored 15-15-30 for Salavat Yulaev Ufa in 37 KHL games this season.
Also beginning on the 26th is the longest-running annual tournament in the hockey world, the vastly under-rated Spengler Cup competition in Davos, Switzerland. In recent years, the KHL has sent a couple of squads to the Spengler each year, and that is the case this time around as well: Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg and Dinamo Minsk. Avtomobilist took part for the first time last year, making the semi-finals, and it will also be Dinamo’s second appearance at the tournament. The Belarusan side made its Spengler debut in 2009, and emerged as champions on that occasion.
Beyond the international doings, there are full slates of games being played in the KHL, VHL (second-tier pro), and MHL (junior hockey) over the next couple of weeks. The Women’s League, too, is holding matches up until the 26th, when a lengthy break for international play begins. The women’s national teams will be in action in early January, including at the Under-18 Women’s World Championship, and we will back to normal service here by that time.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all! С Новым годом и Рождеством Христовым!