Hockey a la nostalgia
When five years ago in Minsk the first Christmas tournament of hockey fans for the President’s prize was held, hardly anyone could suppose that it would turn into something bigger than a simple competition for a short period of time. The tournament obtained its own traditions, friends, and constant participants, who, leaving Minsk each year, dream to return here again. There is a scent of hockey here, its spirit, there are veterans here, coming to try a fall for a chic cup, to communicate with their friends and recollect their youth. They feel 20 years younger
A 76-year old German citizen Eduard Bscheid is the oldest tournament participant, who became its original symbol. He is a live example of a healthy life-style and uncrushable will: look and envy! Not every old man can normally walk at this age, and he even plays hockey. Against whom does he play? Against such hockey monsters as the former goal-keeper of the national team of Russia Maxim Mikhailovsky, the champion of the Olympiad–1992, a forwarder Andrey Kovalenko, the champion of Finland–1991 from TPS club from Turku and a bronze winner of the USSR Championship-1989 Evgeny Shtepa, the threefold world champion, the Olympic champion 1988, the owner of the Stanley Cup–1996 Valery Kamensky, the world champion 1990 and a golden winner of the Olympiad–1992 Vladimir Malakhov… Many of them have several seasons of the National Hockey League behind. In the teams of Belarus, Canada, and Finland there are enough skillful players… Of course, they, having finished their professional performances, became corpulent and lost former speed, but their experience, inimitable dribbling, and skills can be still observed!
It’s no wonder that the tribunes of the Palace of Sport in Minsk were full at each match. This is one more factor increasing significance and prestige of the tournament — everything is real here, even entourage. Many famous hockey-players sincerely say that such viewer support sends shivers up and down; they want to go the whole log and to pull out all the stops.
One more factor, attracting the teams to Minsk each year, is a presidential factor. Everybody knows that the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko plays hockey perfectly, but the chance to play against the head of the state is rare. Besides, the team of the President is a constant favorite of the tournament. It yielded the palm only once to the team of Russia in 2007. Few people doubted that in the final of the tournament 2009, as well as in the previous four years, will meet the hockey-players from Russia and Belarus. And it happened.
Both favorites won confident victories in all the matches of a group stage, and in the final they presented a high-class hockey to the fans, slightly reminding the game of the amateurs. With the active participation of Alexander Lukashenko Belarusian hockey-players played high speed combinations and demonstrated good technique... And, mainly, the character! There would have been an avalanche of goals, if the goal-keepers didn’t save “dead” pucks. In the final of the match tempers ran high. Oleg Orekhovsky and Mikhail Zakharov tried to fight hand-to-hand several times, but their partners and judges didn’t allow them to do this.
The meeting was finished with a payoff 4:1 in favor of the team of Belarus. By results of the tournament its best bombardier became the former forwarder of the team of Belarus Mikhail Zakharov. The best goal-keeper — the goal-keeper of the team of Russia Maxim Mikhailovsky, the best quarter-back — Nemo Nokkosmiaki (Finland), and the best forward — Sergey Shitkovsky (Belarus).