Who will survive this powerhouse group unscathed?
Article - Who will survive this powerhouse group unscathed?
In the rich history of the Spengler Cup there is no duel more legendary than that between host HC Davos and record winner Team Canada. The rivalry has provided plenty of sparks and entertainment over the years. The eternal rivals have squared off eight times in the finals alone. For the first time in 1996, when HCD, with the reinforcements of Ambri-Piotta’s Russian world class forwards Oleg Petrov, Igor Chibirev, and Dimitri Kvartalnov, suffered a 6-2 defeat – possibly also because Chibirev and Kvartalnov missed the final due to illness. Amongst others the long-time NHL forwards Wes Walz and Sylvain Turgeon scored for the Canadians. It was the start to seven mostly legendary final matchups in eleven years. Between 2000 and 2003 alone, it was always these two teams who determined the champion between them.
This streak was broken in 2004 by… Sparta Prague – the third team in this year’s Group Cattini. The Czechs may be going through a 15-year championship drought in the Extraliga. But internationally Sparta has continued to impress, such as with the Champions League final berth of 2017. Amongst the prominent figures are also goaltender Jakub Kovar, who had worked his magic for the ZSC Lions up until the past spring, and the NHL forward Dominik Simon, acquired only shortly before the start of the season. Considering the fierce competition, Sparta may be considered no more than an underdog to achieve the first Czech Spengler Cup triumph since Dukla Jihlava 40 years ago. But it would be foolish to underestimate this team – it certainly has the ability to be the spoiler in Group Cattini. And possibly prevent a new edition of the final classic.
In the meantime, the last final between HCD and Team Canada dates back 10 years; during the 2012 NHL lockout season Team Canada entered with the greatest squad in Spengler Cup history. The team lead by coaches Chris McSorley and Doug Shedden included superstars like John Tavares, Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin, Matt Duchene, and Patrice Bergeron. In light of this calibre the final score of 7-2 came as little surprise. Even if HCD also boasted a strong lineup with Patrick Kane, Joe Thornton, Loui Eriksson, Raphael Diaz and Damien Brunner.
Quelle: Spengler Cup Davos Foto: Keystone