Game which unites
National team of Belarus wins 9th Christmas International Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament for the Prize of the President of Belarus, beating Gazprom Export from Russia in final match
By Dmitry Komarov
Oleg Antonenko was the hero of the match at Minsk-Arena. The former Belarusian national team forward may have retired but has clearly kept in good shape. He scored three goals himself and set up another two for team mates. Including preliminary matches, he earned 11 points over four games (6+5).
The Russian squad scored only twice in the final, allowing Belarus to claim the cup for the seventh time. Belarus also won the Cup in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012; Russia celebrated success in 2007 and 2011, defeating Belarus in the finals. The Canadian team took bronze for the first time, having defeated Austria in the match for third place.
Commenting on the results of the tournament, Oleg Antonenko notes that the level of skill of those taking part improves every year. He explains, “Few matches see high scores. The fact that the Swiss were crushed by both us and the Canadians is rather a coincidence. Maybe, they weren’t on form physically because their level of skill and tactical training is pretty good. For those over 40, the Christmas Tournament is a real challenge.”
Such a competition is, without exaggeration, the equivalent of an amateur world championship. Next year, it’s likely to surprise us once again, having featured not just goals and struggle but charitable visits this year.
Organised by the President’s Sports Club and the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation, teams visited seven orphanages in Minsk and a family-type children’s home in the Minsk Region. On the first day, squads from Austria, Canada, Russia and Slovakia congratulated children on the New Year and Christmas holidays, giving such gifts as a music centre, a large ‘Air Hockey’ game, books and toys, MP3-players and cosmetics.
On the second day, the Swiss team visited children at the socio-pedagogical centre in Minsk’s Pervomaisky District, singing their national song in their native language. The German team went to an orphanage in Borovlyany while the Czechs visited a socio-pedagogical centre in the Frunzensky District of Minsk. The President’s team, comprising Oleg Antonenko, Vladimir Tsyplakov, Sergei Shitkovsky, Nikolay Vladykin and Denis Kurdeko, took gifts to the largest orphanage in the capital — located in Minsk’s Zavodskoy Distrcit. They presented a microwave oven and video camera as well as sweets and soft toys.
The Chairman of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation, Yevgeny Vorsin, who also took part, feels confident that such meetings should become a tradition.