Source: Verbano News
The oldest invitational tournament in the world (it was born in 1923) kicks off on Boxing Day. Six teams at the start including Team Canada, the Ticino biancoblu surprisingly won the 2022 edition and will try to repeat themselves
On the afternoon of Boxing Day , one of the most fascinating events in the world of European ice hockey kicks off , the historic Spengler Cup – or Spengler Cup – which is played every year in Davos, in the Canton of Grisons. The first edition dates back to 1923 and was invented – in fact – by Dr. Carl Spengler, whose name it takes.
The Spengler is not a championship or even a normal tournament between club teams which are the vast majority. However, participation is by invitation (it is the oldest tournament of this type in the world), allows the registered teams to strengthen their staff with loans from other companies and also sees a particular formation such as Team Canada at the start . Which obviously is not the Canadian national team but a selection of Canadian players playing in the European championships.
In short, a hybrid which however allows us to offer a great hockey spectacle and give fans a series of interesting matches in a period – between Christmas and New Year – where national tournaments are sometimes on pause.
There are six participating teams for each edition (until recently there were five) and six is also the number of hockey sticks that make up the current trophy (in the opening photo). One of these is always the host Davos who, however, has not won the cup since 2006. In the 2023 edition, in addition to the Grisons yellow-blues and Team Canada, the Finns of KalPa Kuopio (winners in ’18), the Czechs of Dynamo Pardubice will also participate , the Swedes of Frölunda and the Ticinese of Ambrì Piotta.
The presence of Ambrì is special : it is one of the two great Ticino clubs (the other is Lugano: the rivalry between the two is very heated), boasts numerous fans even among Italian (and Varese) fans and is even the reigning champion . In fact, Ambrì Piotta won the 2022 edition not without surprise, beating Sparta Prague in the shootout final (i.e. penalties) to the delight of the thousands of Leventina fans who flocked to Davos. The decisive goal was scored by Inti Pestoni, one of the symbolic players of the current Ambrì. For the white and blue club, little accustomed to triumphs in its long history, it was a truly historic success even if the Spengler, due to its invitational nature, is not considered an official trophy. But it equally gives prestige to those who conquer it.
The blue and whites then return to Davos as reigning champions and are placed in the group with Pardubice and KalPa and will play the opening match on Boxing Day against the Czechs. After the two matches for each team in the group, the direct elimination matches will begin on December 29th which will culminate on New Year’s Eve with the final which will start at 12.10 pm .
Taking a look at the roll of honour, Italy appears with five successes but in prehistoric times: the Rossoneri Devils of Milan won twice in the pre-war period in 1934 and ’34 and made it three in 1950; in ’53 and ’54 HC Milano Inter won instead . Then nothing more and the level of Italian hockey is almost always a step below what is seen at Spengler. Among the Ticino teams, Ambrì’s victory in 2022 was the first achieved by the canton that borders Italy: Lugano has played three finals (in 2015 and ’16 they lost in the final to Team Canada) but without ever winning the trophy.
The matches are produced and broadcast by Swiss state TV and relaunched in around thirty countries by individual local TV stations (most of Europe, Israel and Canada) but there are no Italian broadcasters in the list . Spengler, however, has its own YouTube channel where you can watch the matches with commentary in English.