International Christmas Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament opens in Minsk
The International Christmas Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament for the Prize of the President of Belarus has won recognition and now occupies a prestigious place in the calendar of sports events in many countries. President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko made this statement as he opened the eighth tournament on 4 January.
“Following a good tradition it opens a new sports year and is a kind of a trademark of Belarus. The tournament is rightly called an unofficial world championship for amateurs. It has become an excellent celebration for fans,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked teams of foreign nations for once again accepting the invitation and coming to Minsk. “Teams of 12 countries took part in the tournament in their time. This year we welcome in a debutant – the team of Slovenia,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
When addressing ice hockey fans, the President noted that during the tournament they will see Olympic medalists and world champions in action.
Once again Aleksandr Lukashenko wished Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. He wished positive emotions and good mood to the participants of the tournament. The President is convinced that each fixture will be a great sports event filled with the heat of the struggle. "Let the strongest win," the head of state said.
After the welcoming address Aleksandr Lukashenko replaced the official suit with hockey gear in order to play against the Austrian team as part of the ice hockey team of the Belarusian President.
Partaking in the tournament are ice hockey amateur teams from Austria, Canada, Russia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, and Belarus. The teams are drawn into two groups. Belarus, Austria, Finland, and Sweden play in Group A. The matches will take place at the Sports Palace. Canada, Russia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic play in Group B. The matches will be played at the hockey ground on Pritytskogo Street.
The winners of the groups will qualify for the final. The second teams from each group will play in the third place match on 7 January.
Belarus won the Christmas Tournament in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Russia became the winner of the tournament in 2007 and 2011.
Since 2006 the tournament has been held under the auspices of the Presidential Sports Club. Other organizers of the tournament are the Sport and Tourism Ministry of Belarus, Belarus’ Ice Hockey Federation and Minsk City Hall.