Friendship wins on the ice

The 11th Christmas International Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament for the Prize of the President of Belarus will stick in our memories for its emotional and spiritual atmosphere.
Teams from United Arab Emirates and Latvia arrive in Belarus for the first hockey games of 2015. Players donned Father Frost costumes to present gifts to parentless children at the match, while German team veteran Eduard Bschaid (83 in three months) appeared on the ice and scored in the preliminary round, against the Finns. The 11th Christmas International Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament for the Prize of the President of Belarus will stick in our memories for its emotional and spiritual atmosphere.

Cup in winners’ hands
Cup in winners’ hands
Photo: BELTA

That at the final match resembled the recent Ice Hockey World Championship, last May, when fans were entertained with songs and dancing at the entrance to the Arena. On coming inside, diverse food and beverages were on offer and all possible assistance was rendered in finding seats. The press centre was noisy and fans created waves through the stands.

As last spring, Russia won the final spectacular match — 0:2. There was no unsporting behaviour and, when passions had calmed, the players on the Presidential team warmly congratulated their friend-rivals, before covering fans with soft toys, as is traditional. It might sound banal but Chizhovka-Arena had no losers that Christmas evening.

Sweeping combinations, bright goalkeeper tricks, disputes with the referee, intense play and the replacement of a goalkeeper for the sixth skater at the end of the match ensured an exciting event, as we all anticipate.

In the finals, Russia and Belarus demonstrated brilliant mastery, easily rivalling a professional match. Meanwhile, the veterans sceptically smiled on being asked if they might return to a hockey career. Among them was Andrey Malkov, who significantly contributed to Russia’s win and was acknowledged ‘best goalkeeper’ of the tournament. He commented, “I’ve heard Ronaldo is planning to return to professional football. It’s his choice but I’ve finished with professional sport. Hockey is getting younger and we are not. Sadly, we cannot defy time.” He added that all had played well and that he would not distinguish anyone, especially himself. “This victory is our common result, although I’ve probably been slightly luckier.”

Speaking of the final result, our players noted that the Chizhovka-Arena match was intense; however, they also did justice to their rivals. The Belarusians promised to take revenge next year. So far, our team has enjoyed eight victories at the Christmas tournament — against the Russians’ three.
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