Almost 12,000 spectators and lots of attention: The WINGAS Cup in Kassel surpassed expectations.
Kassel. The four teams participating in the WINGAS Cup demonstrated true fighting spirit and strong performances. The high-caliber tournament was finally won by HK Vitjaz, ahead of Dinamo Riga, Kassel Huskies and Slovan Bratislava. “The overall athletic level at the WINGAS Cup was very high,” emphasized Huskies coach Rico Rossi. “We really saw world-class ice hockey here with three KHL teams. That’s unique in Germany.”
The Huskies’ Manager Joe Gibbs was likewise delighted about the tournament’s first-ever staging. “Everything went very well, also thanks to our volunteers and the support of WINGAS,” he stated. “And a total of almost 12,000 spectators attended, far in excess of what we expected.” Nicholas Neu, Head of WINGAS Corporate Communications, shared that view: “The response from the media and fans was huge.” Indeed, it was the fans who made the tournament such a success over the three days. Some had even traveled from Slovakia, Latvia and Russia to fire on their team.
The three guest teams will also take back good memories and valuable experience with them from Kassel: “Everything was excellently organized here,” stressed Normunds Sējējs, General Manager and Head Coach of Dinamo Riga. His club used the tournament as a means of preparing for the upcoming season against strong opponents. “Above all, we were able to try out our young players,” explained the former defender, who played for Latvian and international clubs, including ESC Moskitos Essen, between 1986 and 2006. He added that the result was secondary in such a competition. “Of course, every team would like most of all to win. But it’s far more important to see what form the individual players are in.”
Valery Belov, Head Coach of HK Vityaz, was also enthusiastic about the crowds in Kassel’s Eissporthalle ice rink. “I was surprised to see so many spectators come and watch ice hockey in the summer,” he said. His team has a total of ten games as preparation for the new season, three of them in the WINGAS Cup. “We brought a lot of young players with us to Kassel. The games here were the first in the international arena for some of them.” That was a very important experience and exercise for them, added the former player and coach of Dynamo Moscow.
“The WINGAS Cup had a very high standard and was an advertisement for ice hockey in Germany and the Kontinental Hockey League,” stated Miloš Říha, Head Coach of HC Slovan Bratislava. “When a tournament is organized professionally, the players also approach it with a professional attitude,” added Říha, who, as a player and later as a coach, was Czechoslovakian, Czech and Slovakian champion. “These are not just friendly exhibition games. The pace of the games was high and they were physically demanding.” Normally, a preparatory tournament was not about winning, he continued. “But a victory would have been good for our players’ psyche, since we’ve lost all our warm-up games so far.”