World Cup




Back to Ufa… Cream of World’s club junior hockey will be coming back to Ufa, capital of Bashkortostan, this time - club teams. In winter of 2013, the city played hosts to U20 IIHF World Championship having held the event brilliantly, now getting set for the Junior Club World Cup, a 10 teams’ event featuring squads from Europe and North America. The tournament, played at Omsk three years in a row, now moving in to Ufa to begin action August 22.

18 months ago hockey world loudly discussed geography. Discussion centered round Ufa precisely. Nobody in the town preparing to stage World Championship had expected grim prediction by Junior Team Canada’s bench boss Steve Spott alarmingly saying they were to expect “playing in round-the-clock darkness”, - as he said in an interview to a Canadian daily, adding his team would be fighting that darkness by means of artificial lighting. 

Ufa is located at approximately the same latitude as is Edmonton, Alberta. However if you are to believe Mr. Spott, Ufa lies somewhere beyond the Arctic Circle. While Canada were flying to the Championship armed with pocket electric torches, people in Russia kept joking over Mr. Spott’s geography backwardness, first good humouredly, and not quite so afterward. Upon arrival at Ufa, Spott said, he was not going to offend anybody but he did not avoid acid comment.

Jokes apart, this Spott’s comment was evidence how little, if at all, the world knew of this Bashkir capital city. Thanks to the Championship, the situation got better. If you ask those Canadians, they would assert Ufa had two great ice arenas, tens of thousands of ardent hockey fans and hardly a problem with the lighting, natural or artificial.

Now, setting off to Ufa, few teams if any, would be thinking of such problems. Answers to other possible questions may be found below in our introduction of competing teams.

The Teams

Group А

Tolpar Ufa. One can gamble: the hosts will enjoy sellout crowds at their games, no doubt about that. Junior hockey in this town had always attracted enthusiastic audiences. So far Tolpar has not won medals in MHL play except bronze in spring of1011, however produced a number of gifted pucksters successfully playing in the KHL, including Andrei Vasilevski, a goaltending infant prodigy and World Senior Champion of Minsk now getting set for his NHL debut.

Pirates Homutov of Czech Republic. The acting junior ice-hockey champion of its country. Defenseman Radek Havel with his deadly slap shot travelling at 150 kmph played for that team five seasons on end. However, it is yet to be seen, whether he would appear on the Pirates roster, or stay training with their senior club.

Dynamo Shinnik of Bobruisk, Belarus never made it to the top 10 in Junior League play but they have performed well in the World Cup making it to the semis twice giving out sensational wins like beating Omsk Hawks and thrashing Sudbury Wolves 5-1 as they went, however loosing bronze medal games.

Espoo Blues of Finland, local junior league champs. They boast Janne Jalasvaara, now Moscow Dynamos defenseman and the only Latin American of the Finnish Champions TPS‘ forward Kamilo Mietinen having two passports, one Finnish and the other one - Colombian. Antti Pilstrom, forward of the KHL’s Salavat Yulaiev, too played for the Pirates in his younger years. Might he be coming to root for his team at Ufa event, remains to wonder.

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles are a Canadian team representing Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Team colors are black, white, gold and grey. 
The Screaming Eagles were founded in 1969. Since then they changed their locations four times until settled in Sidney, Nova Scotia in 1997 – the year after they won the longed-for Memorial Cup under the name of Granby Prédateurs.
Home crowd in Ufa will be exited to watch two Russian players - Evgeny Svechnikov and Maxim Lazarev (both previously from Bars Kazan) in the Screaming Eagles uniform.

 Group B

Spartak Moscow Last season, Spartak proved it was not hot at rock concerts only, but in junior hockey too. While the senior club was loosing their desperate struggle for survival, the junior team was confidently marching toward Kharlamov Cup finals. They started play-offs with a terrifying 0-7 in Game 2, however winning the Cup eventually. However, very few players would be coming to Ufa this time around, as 16 (!) players had left for SKA Petersburg including another great prospect in goalie Igor Shesterkin who at his 18 has played for the Junior National and a KHL team Spartak Moscow

Red Bull Salzburg, Austria. In their first season in the MHL, they made the play-offs loosing to Dynamo Riga in the first round. Red Bulls were the League’s most internationalized squad having Italians, Finns, Slovenians, Czechs, and a Swede. Leonardo Furer represented two nations, his native Switzerland and… Brazil, his mom coming from that country. Furer became MHL alumni this summer, as did many other players. However, it would be safe to say that Joachim Ramoser, who played for Italy in recent IIHF World Championship in Minsk, will be there.

HC Riga, Latvia stopped at Kharlamov Cup play-off second round bowing to Red Army but packaging all five tilts in the best of five series, so far, the best performance in their four MHL seasons. Their junior system has produced quite a number of talented boys like Miks Indrashis, now with Moscow Dynamos senior team, and goalie Krister Gudlevsskis who stood out against Canada at Sochi Olympics and with a few games for Tampa Bay of the NHL up his sleeve.

Sioux-City Musketers, USA. People in that small Iowa town are worn out with waiting for gold. Last time the musketeers won the Clarke Cup (major USHL trophy) were in now distant 2002, making it to the semis this past spring. However, they boast a few NHLers including Ruslan Fedotenko.

Malmo Red Hawks of Sweden produced such great NHL players as Gustav Nykvist, high scoring forward with Detroit Red Wings, Franz Nielsen, alternate captain of New-York Islanders, Karl Soderberg, the  Boston Bruins forward, to name a few. We may also see some other future stars on that Swedish team just as well.

What else apart from hockey?

Those coming to Ufa to see the World Cup from other towns (for instance Moscow Spartak’s fans) or even from other countries will have no problem finding good entertainment apart from hockey. Local soccer club Ufa having made Russian Premiership will be hosting Moscow Spartak August 23. Further, Akbuzat hippodrome would offer romantic mule back rides in the woods. Another must is local cuisine like Bashkir honey. Например, местный мед, koumiss (fermented mare's milk) and kazaluk sausage.

Junior World Club Cup Brief Rundown

Past Prize Winners:

2011, Omsk: 1. Red Army Moscow, Russia.  2. Energie Czech Republic. There was no third place game, winner contested by group winners.

2012 Omsk:  1. Sudbury Wolves, Canada.  2. Waterloo Blackhawks, USA.3. Linkoping, Sweden.

2013, Omsk. 1.Omsk Hawks, Russia.         2. HPK, Finland .                      3. Dubuque Fighting Saints, USA

2014,  Ufa.    1. Spartak, Moscow.              2. Tolpar, Ufa                            3. Sioux City Musketeers, USA


Junior Hockey League Press Service