2009 Spengler Cup Preview
Each Boxing Day for Canadian hockey fans marks three things: 1. The end of Christmas, 2. The start of the World Juniors, and 3. The Spengler Cup.
Of the two hockey tournaments, the Spengler is the least known out of the two, just by the fact it's not advertised for 3 months ahead of its opening, like the World Juniors are.
This tournament features five teams from around Europe, as well as the Canadian National Team. The Canadian team is combined of players in Europe, the AHL, or other pro leagues around the world besides the NHL.
This year, Canada will have a number of returning players, who will now play under ex-Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Craig MacTavish, who will manage two AHLers, one player in Austria, one player currently playing in Finland, as well as Yannick Tremblay in Germany, to go along with 18 Swiss players, taking part in this Swiss tournament.
Notable names include Serge Aubin, the captain, Mark Bell, Stacy Roest, Josh Holden, Alex Daigle, Ric Jackman and JP Vigier.
In net, Canada will have the 1-2 duo of David LeNeveu and Brent Krahn.
Canada opens the tournament with a game against Karlovy Vary, the reigning Czech Champions, who feature such players as Lukas Mensator and Ondrej Nemec.
On the 28th, after a day off, Canada squares off against host HC Davos, who are usually in contention at this tournament.
Marc Gianola, Mathias Joggi, the von Arx brothers and Sandro Rizzi make up the bigger part of the club.
Next for the Canadians is the Mannheim Eagles, who are from Germany. This team features 10 North Americans, including 9 Canadians. Fred Brathwaite of Canada mans the net, while players such as Sven Butenschon, of Canucks fame, Pascal Trepanier, Scott King, Colin Forbes and Justin Papineau will suit up for the dangerous Eagles.
Closing out the Round Robin for Canada is a date with Dynamo Minsk, the KHL club.
Minsk is a club that could really do some damage at the tournament, with Canadian Duvie Westcott, Byron Ritchie and Geoff Platt, not to mention Jussi Makkonen, Kaspars Sauletis, Alex Kulakov, Dmitri Korobov and Mikko Jokela who also play for the Belarusian Club.
The top two teams will then meet on New Years Eve, for a final that could feature another Canadian-Davos title fight, or one with perhaps underdogs (from this site at least) Mannheim and Vary.
Our predictions? Here they are, game-by-game:
Boxing Day will go down with Dynamo Minsk taking on HC Davos, in perhaps the biggest game of the Round Robin portion. Minsk features some offensive explosion in their repertoire, while the host Davos will have the better part of the arena on their side. This opening game will be a 5-3 win for Minsk in our mind.
The second game on this day pits Karlovy Vary against the Canadians, who will take this one 6-2.
With a 0-1 record to date, HC Davos will pound Karlovy Vary on the 27th, 7-1, before Mannheim loses a close one, 2-1 to Minsk.
Next, Mannheim will squeak out a win against Karlovy, 4-2, before the Canadians take on Davos, in another highly-anticipated match. Who will win? Canada 4-2.
The 29th will do much for Vary who don't play after their tilt with Minsk, but will lose, 5-2.
Canada will also beat Mannheim, 1-0.
On the final day of Round Robin play, the Canadians face Dynamo Minsk, and will lose 6-5. Then, HC Davos will come up with a clutch win, beating Mannheim 3-2.
This puts Karlovy Vary's record at 0-4, Mannheim at 1-3 as well, and that puts Minsk at 4-0, the Canadians at 3-1, and Davos at 2-2.
Final? Minsk and Canada which will go down to the last minute, 3-2 for the Canadians. Check back on December 26th for daily updates from this spectacular tournament.