08.09.2015 13:45

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg will make its premiere at the Spengler Cup in December. They have already caused a sensation in the championship – in the sixth round and with five wins - the team has surprisingly taken over the leadership ranking in the Continental Hockey League KHL.

Yekaterinburg is a progressive, modern city and its inhabitants love ice hockey. The joy is immense due to the fantastic start they have had in this year’s KHL season. This past Sunday, Yekaterinburg took over the lead in the Eastern Conference rankings. Medvescak Zagreb – last year’s Spengler Cup team – also started well and holds second place behind CSKA Moscow in the Western Conference. Yekaterinburg is constantly developing and setting new and ambitious goals each year. “The minimal goal is to advance to the second play-off round”, explains General Manager Oleg Gross, giving his insight to the Russian team.

Oleg Gross, last Sunday your team took top ranking in the KHL. Since Russian teams have placed second in the past two years, is it time for a Russian win in Davos?
I hope that we can take the momentum from our championship with us to achieve this goal! Avtomobilist will participate in the tournament for the first time at this level. Everyone in Yekaterinburg and in our club especially is looking forward to this event. I believe it will also be very interesting for the Swiss fans to see a new team. 

Don’t you want to just concentrate on your championship considering you have had such a great start?
No, the participation at the Spengler Cup is an honor for any team. Avtomobilist is no exception. We are very thankful to the Spengler Cup organizers for giving us this opportunity.

Can you compare the Spengler Cup with the KHL?
The Spengler Cup is considerably older than the KHL or even Russian hockey. It is a tournament with its own traditions, which has developed over decades. The competitions are naturally always at the highest level – this is reflected also in the organization of the tournament (reception, hotel accomodations, meals, teams), the entertainment program and the hockey itself. You cannot compare the KHL with the Spengler Cup at all. The Spengler Cup is a friendly tournament during the holidays; the KHL is an official competition. Nevertheless, all teams participating in the tournament are of the highest level. This is the reason we are looking forward to
interesting comparisons with our opponents.

Do you believe you can profit from the Spengler Cup?
Even though the KHL teams do compete against foreign teams in the league, it is always profitable and interesting to have additional international-level games with new opponents for comparison. Several of our players – Alexander Pankov, Alexei Vasilevsky, Petr Koukal, Ondrej Roman and Oleg Saprykin - do have Spengler Cup
experience. Even our Coach Andrej Razin has played in the Spengler Cup (1999 and 2004 with Metallurg Magnitogorsk) – even if it was many years ago. For the Avtomobilist players, the participation at the Spengler Cup will be an important and profitable experience as well as an additional test of their skills. In the games against
European and North-American teams, the current trends can be recognized and possible vulnerabilities identified.

What do you want to accomplish at the Spengler Cup?
For each team participating in a competition, there should only be one goal – to win!
This is what we will strive for.

Picture: Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg player Saprykin in the Spengler Cup game ZSKA
Moscow vs. HC Vitkovice in 2013.