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The World Championship has ice-spattered bright emotions, enabling the fans to meet the best players in the world

Hockey for true sports lovers

The World Championship has ice-spattered bright emotions, enabling the fans to meet the best players in the world
By Dmitry Baranovsky

The World Championship has ice-spattered bright emotions, enabling the fans to meet the best players in the world. Truly, hockey is in the air these days. However, amidst this diversity and assortment of this wonderful hockey ‘cuisine’, aesthetes were able to find a unique ‘dish’: Minsk recently hosted a tournament of amateur teams to coincide with the world event.

The competition gathered the ice hockey teams of President of Belarus, HC Hockey Legends of the USSR, HC Gazprom Export and HC Stolitsa. Fans enjoyed a unique opportunity to watch not only the modern ‘stars’ but also legendary players of the past. The latter represented world hockey two or even three decades ago, and their Minsk matches were a symbolic bridge to the past — enabling sport lovers to make a short trip in time.

Best players of the match between the team of the President of Belarus and the Hockey Legends of the USSR HC

The line-up of the HC Hockey Legends of the USSR was close to optimal: the impressive list of participating masters took the fans’ breath away. Among them were Myshkin, Fetisov, Gusarov, Babinov, Lutchenko, Yakushev, Boldin, Shalimov, Butsaev, Zhamnov, Kozhevnikov, Kamensky, Prokhorov and Nikolishin. Of course, these ‘legends’ failed to demonstrate their previous speed. Some have lost their physical shape by now, but all have a wonderful feeling of play, wisdom and talent. Really, there are no ‘former’ Olympic champions — as seen from the Minsk line-up.

Speaking of the forthcoming matches, Valery Kamensky — a famous forward, an Olympic champion, a Stanley Cup holder and a three-time world champion — attempted to explain the clear truth to journalists, “We can assert as much as possible that no medals or cups are at stake. However, we are all professionals. Accordingly, once we step on the ice, we simply cannot play at half-steam. We might realise that the match has no previous professional reason, but our emotions and practice will inspire us to produce our best.”

Alexander YakushevMr. Kamensky often comes to Belarus — visiting his relatives in Grodno almost every year. This time though, the hockey player had another reason: the World Championships. The previous generations of star-players follow this global event with much interest, unintentionally comparing the participating squads with their own teams which brought them gold medals at world tournaments and Olympics. So far, this comparison is not in the present generation’s favour. In the past, failures were common, but at present, everything should change for the better — believes five-time world and two-time Olympic champion, Alexey Kasatonov. In Sochi, he was the Russian team’s general manager and, in theory, should have treated the team with jealousy. In turn, he cannot but hide his pride, “The Russian team is different here. There is no sense in drawing any parallel with the squad performing at the Olympics.”

The Moscow ‘stars’ have also come to Minsk — all wishing to win. As Vladimir Myshkin — a former USSR team goalie (jointly with Vladislav Tretiak) and present Hockey Legend fullback — notes, the passes of these ‘stars’ are no less efficient than before. “Of course, the guys are slower, but their abilities are not lost. Believe me, they boast the previous way of thinking, intuition and mastery. With this in mind, I have no time to relax.”

Really, these ‘legends’ boast incredible mastery. Among those coming to Minsk was the famous Sergey Makarov. Of course, it was impossible to gather the outstanding ‘five’ but — even playing alone — Mr. Lovkach is wonderful (resembling Alexander Yakushev in this respect). Sergey finished his career as seven-time world and two-time Olympic champion, joining the Soviet team Tretiak and Kharlamov who were named by Canadian journalists as ‘immortal’ after their outstanding USSR-Canada super-series of 1972. Mr. Makarov came to Minsk as the Head of the Russian Amateur Hockey League, but spoke of professionalism, “I’d love to firstly note the high level of the World Championship’s organisation. I followed the event attentively and can assert that its organisers managed to keep to the Soviet traditions; this refers both to the atmosphere and level of the matches. We are doing our best to show our mettle as well. It’s actually a unique and rare opportunity for fans to see such famous players on the ice. We’d hope we do not disappoint them.”

The first match was played by Gazprom Export and Stolitsa, with the Minskers winning — 5:4. The second game, a bright and exciting match between the team of the President of Belarus, the HC Hockey Legends of the USSR ended 12:9, with the President’s team winning. Alexander Lukashenko scored once and created three assists.

Minsk’s already excellent Ice Hockey World Championship is augmented by another unique and spectacular event — a large team of legendary Soviet hockey players have come to the capital!
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