Six contenders for the 95th Spengler Cup title
Article - Six contenders for the 95th Spengler Cup title
The 95th edition of the Spengler Cup, which was first played in 1923, promises high-calibre hockey with an outstanding field of participants. For “100 years of Spengler Cup” the organizer is gifting itself the impressive hospitality building LOFT ‘23.
‘With the snow comes the anticipation and a certain excitement for the Spengler Cup’, says CEO and tournament director Marc Gianola at this year’s Spengler Cup press conference moderated by Lars Nay. Spengler Cup guests will be especially excited for the new hospitality building LOFT ’23. ‘The 4,300 square metre building made from regional wood will set a new standard in the event business and sustainability. We are very proud of that’, says Gianola. Further highlights surrounding the 100 years of Spengler Cup will be the “100 years of Spengler Cup” exhibit, the Spengler Cup Hall of Fame, and the women’s championship matchup HC Davos Ladies – Ambri-Piotta Girls (December 30 at 11am).
100 years with same goal
The 95th Spengler Cup tournament promises a high-calibre field of participants. ‘The goal of this has been the same for past 100 years – to find a good mix of different ice hockey cultures. The strongest hockey nations will be represented this year as well’, says athletic director Fredi Pargatzi. The group of participants consists of defending champion HC Ambri-Piotta, record title holder Team Canada, KalPa – the Finnish surprise winner in 2018, HC Dynamo Pardubice, current leader in Czech league, Frolunda HC from Gothenburg, and host Hockey Club Davos.
Emotional defending champion
‘I have been a part of this for 33 years now. And rarely has a Spengler Cup final game been as emotional as in 2022’, remembers Fredi Pargatzi, who is delighted that defending champion HC Ambri-Piotta will be opening the Spengler Cup against HC Dynamo Pardubice on December 26. In his estimation the defending champion will be even stronger than the year before, when they fascinated in the final thriller against Sparta Prague. ‘I will never forget the moment when Inti Pestoni scored on the final shootout attempt and the emotions went through the roof. That was one of the nicest moments of my career, and one I definitely want to experience again’, reminisces the Vorarlberg native Dominic Zwerger, who has been playing for the Ticinesi since 2017.
Vaclav Varada believes in Pardubice
Frolunda HC, which belongs to Europe’s most successful hockey organisations of the past decade, is looking to thrill this year as well. As such the Swedes are among the top favourites. ‘There are many good teams at this tournament and we have a lot of respect. The tournament will be a big challenge for us. But of course, our goal is to win in Davos’, says Fredrik Sjostrom, Frolunda HC’s general manager, who wants to bring back the trophy to Sweden for the first time since 1994.
HC Dynamo Pardubice, which is currently in the quarterfinals of the Champions Hockey League, is enthralling its fans as of late. Therefore, it is of little surprise that former Davos player (2006) and Pardubice head coach Vaclav Varada says ‘we play all games to win. In Davos, too.’ Despite the heavy workload with league play, Champions Hockey League, and national team games, Pardubice did everything to be at the Spengler Cup. Hockey legend and two-time Spengler Cup participant Dominik Hasek believes HC Dynamo Pardubice is capable of winning the Spengler Cup, as he laid out in an interview in the newly published edition of the tournament yearbook. ‘I would not be surprised if the Czechs hoisted the trophy on December 31’, says Fredi Pargatzi as well.
The record title holder wants the trophy back
KalPa, which surprisingly defeated Team Canada in a shootout of the 2018 final game, wants to contribute to the Spengler Cup 2023 being a fantastic tournament, according to head coach Petri Karjalainen, Davos’ youth and assistant coach (2006-2008). ‘For hockey lovers the Spengler Cup week is one of the best weeks. To be there in person and play hockey free of pressure is what makes the week fun.’
Team Canada last won the trophy in 2019. Now the record title holder, which has won the tournament 16 times since 1984, wants the trophy back. On their way there they will get support from an ice hockey legend, Joe Thornton. As the general manager he will put together the team and staff. ‘It is a special year, the end of the year in Davos is always very nice and the people in Davos are hockey crazy.’
Fredi Pargatzi is convinced that Team Canada will do everything in its power to recapture the title. And Joe Thornton has big ambitions as well. ‘There is a lot of pressure on us. The win is our goal. Our job is to prepare the boys for the tournament emotionally and to strengthen the team spirit for them to play good, tough hockey.’
The fans want to see HC Davos win
But the host with head coach Josh Holden, just last year assistant coach for Team Canada and himself a four-time Spengler Cup participant as a player, wants to win too. To do so, his team is reinforced on defense by the 29-year-old Calle Anderson (HC Lugano) and on offense by the same-aged Henrik Haapala (HC Lausanne) and 31-year-old Jesper Olofsson (EHC Biel-Bienne). Looking outside, Holden starts raving. ‘Snow falling, Christmas, and hockey – the Spengler Cup is just special. It is my plan to win the Spengler Cup with Hockey Club Davos for the first time since 2011.’ ‘I am counting on it’, replies Fredi Pargatzi with a smirk. For the organizer, the home club’s performances are essential to the Spengler Cup. Because the Fans want to see HC Davos win.
Only 25 sleeps left – and there are still tickets for almost all games
Tickets for the 2023 Spengler Cup can still be booked through our ticket portal.
Quelle: Medienmitteilung Spengler Cup Davos