Spengler Cup set and ready

Spengler Cup set and ready

26 Dec 2013 | Alan Ilijic
 

The teams have checked in Davos, Switzerland and this year's Spengler Cup is ready to roll. CSKA coming off a KHL matchup yesterday, and the Rochester Americans - visitors from the AHL.

 
 
 
 

HC Davos Arena The 2013 Spengler Cup is ready to roll, and will do so today with the matchup between Servette Geneve and Rochester Americans at 14:45 CET in group Torriani, followed by a clash between Team Canada, formed by Canadian players playing in Switzerland, and Vitkovice Steel from the Czech Republic.

HC Davos

The hosts of the Spengler Cup from early on, will host another tournament starting today. They will present history, pride and tradition, but will also prove to be a difficult opponent on the ice.

Davos currently hold the 4th seed in the Swiss NLA after 34 games played. The head coach, Arno Del Curto, decided to take two foreign defencemen this season. Ryan O'Connor landed right from the OHL and alongside him Ville Kostinen with both NHL and KHL experience. Davos also didn't hesitate to add Zdenek Kutlak from Slovan Bratislava when they had their chance.

Marcus Paulsson, their top scorer, and alongside him Perttu Lingren form only a part of their foreing offensive roster. Andres Ambuhl is back under the mountains after four seasons out, three of which in Zurich.

The history of HC Davos is closely tied to Spengler Cup. Paul Muller founded the team back in 1921, while two years later dr. Carl Spengler founded the tournament, that would eventually become one of the best and well-known friendly tournament in the hockey world.

Nonetheless, they went through some hard times. Everyone does. However, since they achieved their status in the NLA under the management of Mats Watlin in 1993 the franchise has risen consistently. And since Arno Del Curto took over the coaching spot, championship titles have been celebrated on regular basis - 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011.

Certainly, every title comes with a story, and the one won during the 2004-2005 NHL lockout when they had help from Niklas Hagman, Rick Nash and Joe Thornton. The ultimate title in 2011 was celebrated together with the 90th anniversary of club's history and it coincided with a Spengler Cup win, against Dinamo Riga in the final game.

Geneve Servette

Three years ago Servette showed a convincing performance as the second Swiss team. One thing is certain this year - they will look to go even further. The team around charismatic Chris McSorley haven't been so successful in their domestic championship, but they're not far from makin the playoffs, they hold the last spot, seed 8 in the standings.

Servette is making a steady progress, leaving a mark in Swiss hockey. Last season, they started off with nine wins in a row, winning 26 of possible 27 points. But then they slumped and restored shortly before the playoffs. They even were on a verge of a surprise, leading in the quarterfinal series 3-1 versus Biel, but in the final game had to grant the eventual Swiss champions a semi-final berth.

Servette were going through a hard time, when they finally returned to the NLB in 1995 as a spark of an aspiring project that led them in the national elite. Six years after they qualify for the top rank division in Switzerland, the NLA.

You don't just say the team built around Chris McSorley. The man in charge of the coaching built this team from scratch. He's been around since 2001, has advanced to head coach, general manager, and the club's co-owner positions. Despite all, he refuses to sit on his laurels and wants to go even further, convinced the sky is the limit.

While McSorley foretells offensive hockey will be played, Matthew Lombardi, Denis Hollenstein and Cody Almond will all agree. Alognside them Kevin Romy and Kaspars Daugavins scored most points in the actual season. Captaining the team will be Goran Bezina, a defenceman of Croatian origin who's been with the team since 2004/05 season first as the assistant captain and took the big C to his chest two years afterwards.

Vitkovice Steel

The Moravian Vitkovice from Ostrava receive another invitation to the Spengler Cup. Theri crowd-loving performances earned them this honour. At their first participation they won the tournament in 1980 but since then haven't been able to get past Davos in the semi-finals.

The defense is backed by goalie Roman Malek, who's been playing in the Czech Extraliga since 1996 with two short stints abroad - in the KHL and Sweden. He's earned himself an outstanding reputation in the Czech league and has been awarded the highest goalie prizes, as well as being voted into the 2011 Spengler Cup All-Star team.

Playing his 13th season with the Steel, Jiri Burger provides stability in the offensive zone. He's wrapped up 316 goals so far, ranking him among the best and most successful active forward in the country. Also, he's been on the national team for 6 years. Going into the season, the team was backed up with a defenseman Martin Dudas and a forward Patrik Valcak, both from Cracovia Krakow.

Peter Oremus, a Slovak coaching the team took over in 2012. He played for Skalica in the Extraliga and there took over as the bench boss in 2006 having been awarded the Golden Puck for his achievements. Later, he assisted in Slovan Bratislava and the national team.

Vitkovice, a districk in the Moravian city of Ostrava, hold a special place in the hockey history of the Czech Republic. Probably the steel mills are the only thing older than the team founded back in 1928.

Team Canada

Team Canada celebrate their 30th anniversary at the Spengler Cup this year. So far, they've qualified for the finals on 19 occasions winning 12 titles. They also snapped their first title with their first appearance in 1984.

Glen Metropolit
Glen Metropolit (Photo: Marco Bertolini)

Formed by Canadians playing in Switzerland, with a few exceptions, this year especially in the goalie position, they pose a perennial threat and are a tournament favourite. Last year they won the title, rallying over Davos 7-2 in the last game, so they're expected to put up a good fight and defend the title.

After an opening blunder versus Mannheim, the team was led by "Captain Canada" Ryan Smythe in their quest for the 12th title. Their best stretch goes between 1995 and 1998 when they won four consecutive titles, and peculiar enough, between 2000 and 2003 Davos and Canada were the only finalists. The series ended tied at 2, Davos winning the first two, and team Canada the latter titles.

In net Chris Mason from Ritten/Renon in Italy and Allen York from Rockford Icehogs of the AHL. This might come as an advantage, as he'll probably know Rochester Americans, the AHL guests.

The team will miss out on Ryan Smyth, who's playing for the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL, but will look to Glen Metropolit, a 39-year-old Lugano forward. He'll receive help from two Alexandres, Bolduc and Giroux, while Jacob Micflikier also has some KHL experienc, having played 11 games for Dinamo Minsk this season, prior to joining his fellow countryman Metropolit in Lugano.

Team Canada and the hosts Davos have mutual respect for one another. Team Canada wants to win any competition it enters, assures exceeding atmosphere and good quality hockey.Their players feel proud to be selected to represent Canada at such prestigious tournament. And their fierce rivalry with Davos brings hockey at the Spengler Cup to a whole new level.

Rochester Americans

The Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League will pay their second visit to the Spengler Cup, the first after 1996. Back then, they helped shape the tournament and finished third, behind Canada and Davos.

The team originate from Rochester, New York. They play their games in the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial, seating 11,000 fans. Spread over three decades, their largest success are six Calder Cup titles. The Spengler Cup participation is seen as good prophecy, the last time they played they won their last Calder Cup title.

One of the most successful player ever to have worn their jersey is, without a doubt, Jody Gage. In his 11 seasons with the team he scored 351 goals and added 377 assists in a total of 653 games. Gage stayed with the Americans after his player's career and is now a director of player personnel for the team. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of fame in 2006.

Rochester hold the 8th spot in the Western Conference standings of the AHL with 32 points in 30 games thanks to Phil Varone with 27 points (6+21) and esspecially to Luke Adam (14+6) who leads the team in scoring.

Both Jody Gage and Don Stevens, currently working for the Americans were part of the playing roster when they appeared first. Thus this will be their chance to revive the experience and for sure, a special occasion.

The Rochester Americans hope to bring the spirit of the Spengler Cup back to the USA as they did the last time. They aspire to go for the double - the Spengler Cup and the Calder Cup. The quest begins today, it still remains a question if they can pull it off.

CSKA Moscow

One of the most famous hockey teams in the world give its comeback to the Spengler Cup. This will be their first appearance after 1992, but they've had various appearances before.

The team founded in 1946 by the Soviet Army was dominant in the Soviet hockey championship claiming 32 titles as well as 11 Soviet Cups. CSKA used to, and still does, provide the best hockey players of the country. The two superstar forwards Andrei Khomutov and Vyacheslav Bykov played for the CSKA and helped HC Davos win the Spengler Cup in 1993 and 1994.

Whenever they show up somewhere, they want to win. And they're pretty serious about the Spengler Cup as well. Just takin a glance at their roster leaves you gasping. Rastislav Stana and Ilya Proskuryakov provide stability between the pipes, while Denis Denisov and Nikita Zaitsev are the main force in the defence.

Their strong defence in spite, their offense is what makes them such an unpleasant opponent. The biggest star Alexander Radulov and the young gun about to become a star Nikolai Prokhorkin form a great duo. Radulov more of a distributer, and Prokhorkin a finisher, they create a symphony in their first offensive line. We shouldn't forget Ilari Filppula and Igor Zubov as well as Oleg Saprykin and Alexei Morozov.

And for the end we left another living legend. Although there were talks he might play in the KHL and come back from retirement, it still didn't happen, but Sergei Fedorov is bound to make a comeback to hockey during the Spengler Cup. According to various sources, he's ready to play, he's been working hard on the ice and in the gym to regain strength, and is on CSKA's official Spengler Cup roster.

We have an extremely interesting and action-packed tournament ahead of us. Let the games begin!

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