Ludi incipiant | Spengler Cup Davos

Ludi incipiant

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HC Ambri-Piotta and tournament newbie Orebro from Sweden will open the 94th Spengler Cup on December 26 at 3pm local time. Defending champion Team Canada will face off against the traditional Czech club Sparta Prague in the evening game.

At the last Spengler Cup in 2019 Ambri-Piotta played its way into the hearts of all hockey lovers with its courageous on-ice performances and passionate fans in the stands. “It was a wonderful week in Davos, a great time with many, many emotions”, says head coach Luca Cereda looking back. He still gets goosebumps now, especially when thinking of the first game. Not surprisingly, Cereda is excited for his second Spengler Cup. “We, once again, want to show our identity, our best side, and provide all hockey fans with good emotions and memories”, he promises. Ambri-Piotta may be facing very strong opposing teams, but the head coach insists “we will be on the ice to win.”

In Orebro HK, Ambri-Piotta will face an opponent, which has been playing in the highest Swedish league for only 10 years but is making a steady push towards the very top and is now playing its first Spengler Cup. In the championship the team coached by Niklas Eriksson finds itself in the upper middle of the standings. The team from central Sweden has proven to be a compact team. The internationally most recognized player is Jhonas Enroth. He played in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, LA Kings as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs before moving to the KHL where he played for Dinamo Minsk for three years. Enroth was the strong backbone on Sweden’s 2013 world champion team, that defeated Switzerland in the final. Swiss ice hockey is very familiar with Mathias Bromé but not at the Spengler Cup. The forward played for HC Davos last season, when the traditional tournament had to be canceled last-minute due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Team Canada is the record title holder with 16 victories. A look at the Canadians’ current roster shows that it is well-equipped to defend its title. The core of the team is formed by 12 Swiss National League players of which each carries an important role: Chris DiDomenico, Tyler
Ennis, Cody Goloubef, Colton Sceviour (all Bern), Kristopher Bennett, Daniel Carr, Brett Connolly (all Lugano), David Desharnais (both Fribourg-Gottéron), Jonathan Ang (Kloten), Cody Eakin (SCL Tigers), Jérôme Leduc (Ajoie) und Daniel Winnik (Geneve-Servette). Team Canada’s staff is prominently built of NHL legends such as head coach Travis Green, Scott Niedermayer, and Shane Doan.

The opening game is an opportunity to take revenge for Sparta Prague. At their last Spengler Cup appearance in 2010, the Czechs bowed out after a loss to Team Canada in the quarterfinals. In the championship Sparta Prague missed the title with a playoff final loss to Trinec. Seven players have NHL experience, lead by Vladimir Sobotka (599 NHL games), nine players have appeared at world championships, amongst them Jakub Kovar, who minded the net for the ZSC Lions last season. Sobotka and his teammates are looking forward to the Spengler Cup. “We are not easily intimidated. And we believe we can persist against any opponent. We are strong”, says the Sparta forward.

Only on day two (December 27) will IFK Helsinki face the loser of the matchup between Ambri-Piotta and Orebro in the afternoon game, and in the evening, HC Davos will take on the loser of the game between Team Canada and Sparta Prague to start its 94th Spengler Cup.

Text: Spengler Cup - Onlineredaktion   Photo: Keystone