They came, saw, – and reached the semifinals, at least. Now Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg is out to confirm its strong performance at its second consecutive Spengler Cup.

Barely anyone knew the city, barely anyone the club, barely anyone the players. That may sound slightly exaggerated - yet, the statement does have some truth to it. Truly, at last year’s Spengler Cup Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg was the big unknown. After appearances by numerous KHL heavy weights such as CSKA Moscow, SKA St. Petersburg, or Salavat Yulaev Ufa, to just name a few, it was a smaller representative of the world’s second-best league that started at this traditional tournament for the first time.

Today we definitely know who Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg is. The team of coach Andrey Razin sold themselves well in the Mountains of Grisons and fought its way into the semifinals with wins against HC Davos and Adler Mannheim. In the championship the primary goal was achieved: a seventh-place regular season finish in the Eastern Conference led to a third consecutive playoff berth. It was there, however, where – also for the third consecutive time – the season ended: the later champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk was simply overpowering.

Summer changed everything

The following summer general manager Oleg Gross overhauled the squad. 15 players left the club (including goaltender Jakub Kovar as well as the two forwards Ondrey Roman and Eero Elo), and 13 new ones came. Although it is still too early to come to any long-term conclusions, Gross’ transfer market activity has resulted in a reasonable start of the season. The seemingly “small” KHL club led by Czech star forward and captain Petr Koukal has been able to keep pace with the big competitors.

Though Avtomobilist may be a small club, Yekaterinburg is in no way a small town. With a population of around 1.4 million, it is not only Russia’s fourth largest city, but also the unofficial capital of the Ural region. Yekaterinburg, due to multiple important military bases was not accessible to foreigners during the Soviet era, is also a sports region, which in the past has produced many famous athletes, especially hockey players (Pavel Datsyuk, Alexey Yashin, Nicolay Khabiboulin, Vladimir Malakov, and more). Yet the local hockey teams has barely celebrated any success. At least Avtomobilist, which got its name from the local transport company Svardlavtrans, has participated in the KHL since the 2009/10 season. The team plays its home games at KRK Uralez, a venue that holds 5570 spectators. On the ice Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg is a middle of the pack team. Their standard is to reach the playoffs, but the big success –moving on to the next round – has yet to be achieved. Looking at the team’s continuous development (2010 playoffs, 2011/2012/2013 missed the playoffs, 2014/2015/2016 playoffs) shows it is time for the next step. And who knows, that step might already come at the Spengler Cup.

Team players

Number Position Age Height Weight Nationality
Vladimir Sokhatskiy 50 Goalie 1989 184 80 Russia
Igor Ustinsky 40 Goalie 1994 180 80 Russia
Ivan Lisutin 84 Goalie 1987 186 107 Russia
Michal Cajkovsky 56 Defence 1992 192 99 RUS
Tommi Kivisto 4 Defence 1981 186 92 Finland
Dmitri Megalinsky 77 Defence 1985 191 114 Russia
Nikita Shchitov 26 Defence 1983 184 90 Russia
Nikolai Timashov 7 Defence 1994 182 81 Russia
Pavel Turbin 34 Defence 1990 182 83 Russia
Alexei Vasilevsky 93 Defence 1993 180 93 Russia
Yegor Zhuravlyov 5 Defence 1990 194 92 Russia
Jan Buchtele 47 Forward 1990 186 95 RUS
Evgeny Chesalin 22 Forward 1988 171 73 RUS
Artyom Gareyev 60 Forward 1992 175 77 RUS
Anatoli Golyshev 15 Forward 1995 172 81 RUS
Oleg Gubin 21 Forward 1981 187 90 RUS
Petr Koukal 42 Forward 1982 177 82 Czech Republic
Alexei Mikhnov 8 Forward 1982 196 108 Russia
Denis Mingaleyev 79 Forward 1994 178 78 Russia
Dmitry Monya 81 Forward 1988 181 90 Russia
Alexander Romanov 48 Forward 1980 191 95 Russia
Alexei Simakov 14 Forward 1979 167 79 Russia
Rok Ticar 24 Forward 1989 180 82 Slovenia
Alexander Torchenyuk 12 Forward 1991 181 79 Russia
Konstantin Volkov 23 Forward 1985 179 90 Russia
Stanislav Chistov 41 Forward 1983 180 88 Russia
Roman Ivashov 92 Forward 1997 187 85 Russia