All six teams reaching for the trophy | Spengler Cup Davos

All six teams reaching for the trophy

Article - All six teams reaching for the trophy


Will Dynamo Pardubice or Frolunda Gothenburg actually win their first (anniversary) Spengler Cup between Christmas and New Year? Or one of the other highly ambitious contestants Ambri-Piotta, Team Canada, or KalPa Kuopio, the winners of the past three editions? Or maybe even host HC Davos?

The Spengler Cup is celebrating its 100th anniversary this Boxing Week. However, it is only the 95th edition of the traditional tournament. It had to be canceled six times: 1939 and 1940 due to World War II, 1949 and 1956 for economic reasons as well as 2020 and 2021 because of the covid pandemic.

The 95th Spengler Cup promises to be full of excitement. All six teams have declared a final appearance or even the tournament victory as their goals. HC Dynamo Pardubice, the far-away leader in the Czech championship, is coming in with glowing references. Head coach Vaclav Varada is considered a master of success. In the Czech Extraliga he recently led Trinec to three championship titles. In the 2006-07 season, Varada won the Swiss championship title and Spengler Cup as a forward on HCD. Just like the Spengler Cup, Dynamo Pardubice is 100 years old. The team pushed to come to Davos for that reason. Yet it does not want to just celebrate in Davos, but also show some strong performances on the ice. ‘We are strong skaters, can push the tempo, and play aggressively across the whole ice’, says Varada of his experienced team’s strength. Six players come with NHL experience, 14 have worn the Czech jersey as world championships, and nine have competed at Olympic Games.

Ambri in the role of the hunted
Dynamo Pardubice will open the 95th Spengler Cup on December 26 at 2.10pm against defending champion Ambri-Piotta. The Ticinesi won the last final over Sparta Prague in a 2-1 shootout. Inti Pestoni scored on the decisive shootout attempt. He looks forward to the upcoming tournament. ‘That will again be a good and interesting challenge’, thinks Pestoni. ‘It is always fun to play against big, international teams.’ Pestoni describes Ambri’s team ‘a special mix of young and old players. We have a lot of talented young players from our own youth system.’ For them especially, the Spengler Cup shall be an ideal learning ground, where they can learn from mistakes, which no one will hold against them.

In the Boxing Day evening matchup at 8.10pm, tournament newbie Frolunda Gothenburg will face off against record title holder Team Canada. The five-time Swedish champion has won four of the last six Champions League titles and belongs to the European elite teams, even if it is currently undergoing a rebuild. In Henrik Tommernes and Carl Klingberg, Frolunda has two new lead wolves this season, who previously had fuelled Geneve-Servette and EV Zug. ‘There are many good teams at the Spengler Cup. We have a lot of respect. But of course, we want to win the tournament’, says Fredrik Sjostrom, Frolunda’s GM.

Plenty of pressure on Team Canada
This year, Team Canada will be led by NHL legend Joe Thornton as GM. The 44-year-old has a tight connecting with Davos and HCD. ‘There is lots of pressure on our team’, Thornton is aware. Last year the team was eliminated with three losses. Now it is time to make amends. ‘In Canada one expects to win the Spengler Cup. That is our goal’, reveals Thornton. ‘So, we have to get our boys in gear. It will move fast. It is a short tournament. You play a lot of games in a short period of time. But oftentimes teams get into a rhythm quicker in such tournaments. Our job is to prepare the boys emotionally and to strengthen the team spirit, so they can play good, hard hockey.’

Title sensation KalPa Kuopio returns
As the first Finnish team ever, KalPa Kuopio won the tournament in 2018 with a 2-1 shootout upset of Team Canada in the longest game in tournament history. The game was only decided on the 15th shootout attempt when Jaakko Rissanen scored. The Canadian Andrew Ebbett was then stopped by KalPa goaltender Denis Godla on the subsequent attempt. ‘That was one of the most important goals of my entire career’, Rissanen still says today. The forward sees the team’s homogeneity as its biggest strength. As far as Spengler Cup goals go, the team leader shows himself cautious. ‘Just as in 2018, we will give it our best and want to enjoy the tournament with its fantastic atmosphere. We strongly believe we can be successful with that recipe again’, says Rissanen.

Twelve months ago, HCD came up short in their semi-final matchup with Ambri-Piotta. The last Spengler Cup title dates back to 2011. No surprise then that the hunger for next victory is growing. With a 16th title, HCD could pull even with Team Canada. Davos has been reinforced by defenseman Calle Andersson (Lugano) as well as forwards Jesper Olofsson (Biel-Bienne) and Henrik Haapala (Lausanne).

Quelle: Spengler Cup-Onlineredaktion