On April 20 for the first time in its history, Minsk welcomed participants of the Gazprom Neft Cup International Youth Ice Hockey Tournament. The capital of Belarus has long been waiting for this big event and, we must say, the debut went well!
On the first day of play all 12 teams in the West Group played. In addition, some even played two games in one day. Several games had serious fights, and several were marked by head-spinning results.
The two tensest meetings were on the Big Arena complex in Chizhovka. In the first we saw a sensation – representatives of one of the most famous schools in Russia – Dinamo Moscow – went down to Vityaz (Chekhov) on penalty shots, 2:3.
In the next meeting, St. Petersburg SKA with a great deal of difficulty (and also in post-game penalties) beat the Finnish team debuting at the tournament, Jokerit (4:3).
An interesting fact — the teams who had two games on the opening day had mixed results. The Atlant in their second game could not withstand current Gazprom Neft Cup champions, CSKA Moscow. The ’army team’ demonstrated their mastery in each period and sent their neighbors to a real knockout of 10:0.
The games for Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) went differently. First the ’auto workers’ easily beat Dinamo Riga (10:0), and then resoundingly lost to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2:7. The real hero was Loko forward Anatoly Belousov, who scored two goals and took two good passes.
And the Moscow Dinamo learned lessons after morning misfortune and smoothly beat Cherepovets team Severstal — 7:0. So on the first day of the Minsk stage of the tournament there were three shut-outs.
The most important game the organizers left until the evening. The Big Arena of the complex hosted the official opening ceremony of the tournament, and the first match for the home team in the West Group, Dinamo Minsk.
After a beautiful pre-game 3D show, the audience — of nearly 5,000 — got to see all the teams out on the ice. And the tournament itself was opened by Gazpron Neft chairman Alexander Dyukov, assistant to the president of Belarus for matters of sport and tourism Maksim Ryzhenkov, and KHL president Alexander Medvedev. The right to the symbolic first show went to forward for the Belarus team Dmitri Meleshko.
After the ceremony game the most important game of the evening. The hosts were playing St. Petersburg SKA. This game had it all — huge speeds, drive from the fans, a great game by the goalkeepers and beautiful pucks. The Dinamo players, spurred on by the hometown fans, managed a hard-won victory — 2:1. The winning puck was shot into the visitors’ goal by one of the Mikhalyev hockey dynasty — Miroslav.
Those are the brief results from the first day of play at the Gazprom Neft Cup in Minsk. Tomorrow there are 10 games in the West group. Those results will determine which teams will fight for the right to play in the Tournament Superfinal.