The Spengler Cup is back. All matches on Polsat sports channels

The initiator of this tournament was Dr. Carl Spengler and he assumed the participation of teams from German-speaking countries. The first tournament was played in 1923 and ended with the victory of the Oxford University team, which consisted mainly of Canadians studying at this university. The prestige and popularity of the Spengler Cup has caused teams from all over the world to come to Davos, including the Polish national team twice. – Watching the matches live from the stands is a great prestige. Anyway, in all of Switzerland, telling another person that I will be at the Spengler Cup this year because I managed to buy tickets is considered something exclusive and for such a person, it is a great ennoblement. For the Swiss, the Spengler Cup is what the Four Hills Tournament or the Tour of Poland are for us – says Henryk Gruth, four-time Olympian who lived in Switzerland for more than twenty years and is now an expert at Polsat Sport .

Lucky third time…

This year’s tournament will be held for the ninety-fourth time. The two previous editions were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time, at the end of September 2020, the cancellation of the next edition of the Spengler Cup was announced.

The following year, the Davos competition was canceled several dozen hours before the start of the competition. Originally, in Davos, in addition to the hosts, the representation of Canada, HC Ambrì-Piotta, and three foreign teams: the Swedish Frölunda, the Finnish KalPa Kuopio and the Czech Sparta Praga were to perform. On December 20, 2021, it was announced that Team Canada and Ambrì-Piotta would withdraw from the tournament as the team had to quarantine. At the last moment, we managed to invite the Slovak Slovan Bratislava. Additionally, SC Bern, SCL Tigers and EHC Biel-Bienne declared the formation of a team to perform under the name Bern Selection. On December 25, it turned out that several HC Davos players were infected with the coronavirus, the whole team had to go into quarantine and on the same day the cantonal authorities did not allow the tournament to take place, it therefore had to be canceled again.

In previous years, the Spengler Cup has only been canceled – with the exception of the last two years – four more times. The last time was in 1956, when financial problems prevented the tournament from taking place. Previously, in 1939 and 1940, the Spengler Cup was canceled due to the outbreak of World War II, and in 1949, the tense Cold War situation prevented it.

Fairy tale landscape in Davos

Initially, matches were played at the facilities of the Eissstadion Davos sports complex and until 1979 the competition was held on an open-air ice rink. – I remember then, in the 1970s, we specially painted the upper and lower eyelids with this special charcoal, which our doctor got for us. This protected us from strong sunlight, as the rink was not yet covered at that time. At that time, the scenery for playing such matches was almost fabulous, because you could see beautiful mountains around – emphasizes Henryk Gruth, who twice played in the Spengler Cup with the Polish national team.

In 1979, a roof appeared on the surface, and the following season large glazed walls were placed. In 2007, the ice rink was renamed Vaillant Arena, and the natural ice rink next to it remained Eisstadion Davos. Due to its wooden structure, the Davos Arena is one of the most beautiful ice hockey venues in the world.

Davos has hosted non-European teams on numerous occasions. Most often it was the Canadian national team, playing under the Team Canada banner. Twice (in 1996 and 2013), Switzerland was visited by the American team from Rochester playing in the North American AHL league, which is the direct base of the NHL league. The United States team has participated in these competitions on several occasions. In 1971, the Japanese national team participated in the Spengler Cup, which was preparing in Davos to participate in the Sapporo Olympics.

Fight at the hotel with the participation of the Poles…

The Polish national team played twice in this tournament. In 1974, the White-Reds took second place behind Slovan Bratislava, and a year later they took third place behind the Olympic representation of Czechoslovakia and the representation of Finland. – Then the favorite to win was Slovan, one of the icons of Czechoslovakian hockey and therefore the first club in Europe. We played the last game against them and the winner of that game would have won the Spengler Cup. The match ended in a 6:6 draw, and Slovan won on penalties and they triumphed in Davos. The match was very “dirty”, from start to finish played on the verge of foul. It was so hard that we ended up a few dozen with them in front of the hotel reception, because we were sleeping in the same place as Slovan. We had to be separated there, so that it did not end in a big fight – remembers this meeting, the only Pole admitted to the Hall of Fame of the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation).

Two performances in the mid-70s in the prestigious Davos tournament of the Polish national team were the only ones achieved by our team or possibly a Polish club.

Canada with a record and a pole in the All Stars team!

The last edition of the Spengler Cup, which took place in 2019, was won by the Canadian team, which beat the Czech Ocelari Třinec 4:0 in the final. Aron Chmielewski played in the “Stalowniks” team, which in turn scored a goal in the first group match lost to Canada 1:4. – My big dream was to play against Canada one day. The year before we missed them and in the next Spengler Cup we could play with them twice. The goal in such a match will remain in my memory for the rest of my life – the Polish representative emphasizes. Ocelari’s promotion to the final and Chmielewski’s good performance in this tournament were appreciated, as the Pole was in the Star Team. – It was a great honor for me, because the Spengler Cup is the best and most prestigious friendly tournament in the world. I felt good that someone liked my game and I’m happy to be in such a good group – says the Polish striker.

The victory for the Canadians was their 16th triumph in Davos and therefore the “Maple Leaf” team has the most victories in this tournament. Fifteen times the hosts have triumphed, but we must not forget that the Canadian team has not participated in all editions of the Spengler Cup.

Very simple rules

Until 2009, the Spengler Cup was contested by five teams in a round-robin format. Beginning in 1986, the top two teams in the standings faced each other in the final, which took place on December 31 at noon. In 2010, the format was changed. There were six teams in the tournament, which were divided into two groups: Torriani and Cattini.

In the group stage, the winner gets three points, the loser none. If the match ends in a draw after 60 minutes of play, a five-minute golden goal overtime period will be played, with the teams playing in teams of three. If the extra five minutes are inconclusive, the winner must be decided by a penalty shootout. The winner after extra time or penalties gets two points and the loser gets one. At the end of the group stage, the winners of both groups will advance directly to the semi-finals, with the second team from the Torriani group playing the third team from the Cattini group and vice versa – the third team from the Torriani group playing the second team from the Cattini group. The winners of these matches play in the semi-finals, and the teams that win these matches will play in the final.

A few favourites…

This year, after a two-year break, we finally managed to resume these prestigious games and the organizers managed to invite some very strong teams. In Davos, besides the hosts, the team of Canada and Sparta Prague, part of the Cattini group, will compete, and the Torriani group will include Sweden’s Orebro, Finland’s IFK Helsinki and another Swiss team, HC Ambri -Piotta. – In my opinion, the team of Canada and Orebro will meet in the final. The level of the Swedish league is slightly better than that of the Finnish league. If it was the final, I would choose the Canadians as winners, who will fight to the end for victory – believes Henryk Gruth. – This year I am supporting the hosts, that is HC Davos. Matej Stransky, who played for Třinec for two years, plays there. Anyway, we played against Davos this season in the Champions League group stage. In Switzerland we lost, and at home we won with them 4:3 – says Aron Chmielewski.

The broadcasting program of the 94th edition of the Spengler Cup:

Monday (December 26)

HC Ambri-Piotta vs Orebro HK live at 3:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport.

Sparta Praga vs Team Canada live at 8:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport Extra.

Tuesday (December 27)

IFK Helsinki vs loser of the match HC Ambri-Piotta – Orebro live at 3:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport Extra.

HC Davos vs the loser of the game Sparta Praga – Team Canada live at 8:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport Extra.

Wednesday (December 28)

Won the match HC Ambri-Piotta – Orebro HK vs IFK Helsinki live at 15:05 on Polsat Sport Extra.

Won the match Sparta Praga – Team Canada vs HC Davos live at 8:10 p.m. on Polsat Sport Premium 1.

Thursday (December 29)

Quarter-final live at 3:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport News.

The quarter-finals will be broadcast live at 8:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport Premium 1.

Friday (December 30)

I saw the semi-final at 3:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport News.

II semi-final live at 8:10 p.m. on Polsat Sport Extra.

Saturday (December 31)

Final live at 12:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport.

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Alec Dittman

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