Alex Ovechkin and good friend (and former teammate) Ilya Kovalchuk were on hand for the opening ceremony of the Governor’s Cup tournament on Sunday in Tula, which is about 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Moscow. Ovechkin and Kovalchuk also conducted a training session for young hockey players and dropped the ceremonial puck prior to the start of the game.
The training session was held for the players from Mikhailov Academy, the team from Tula participating in the tournament, as well as two local clubs, “Tropic” and “Golden Puck”. The players in attendance and their parents were delighted, as many arrived wearing Washington Capitals’ gear, not just from Ovechkin, but T.J. Oshie as well.
Ovechkin spoke at the the training session about his first visit to the new arena. “Yes, and I myself am here for the first time. But the local arena impressed me. I think they created good conditions for children and parents. The most important thing is that the guys play hockey and enjoy it.”
Other teams participating in the tournament were: Avto (Yekaterinburg), Spartak (Moscow), Loko (Yaroslavl), Irbis (Kazan), Krylya Sovetov (Moscow), Siberian Snipers (Novosibirsk) and Chaika; i.e. Seagull (Nizhny Novgorod). Last year’s winner, Atlant, is not participating this year so a new winner will be awarded.
Prior to the game, Ovechkin and Kovalchuk dropped by the dressing room of the Mikhailov Academy to visit them. The youth players were so inspired by their pre-game visitors that they beat Irbis 6-0 on Sunday. They followed that up by winning on Monday, beating Krylya Sovetov, 3-1
Before the game, Ovechkin said, “Here is my stick. Now I will put an autograph on it. Do you have a white marker? And present it to the best player of the opening match, in which teams from Tula and Kazan will play.”
Ovechkin and Kovalchuk also participated in the ceremonial puck drop.
Ovechkin also reminisced about his past experiences, “Of course I remember. I was born and raised in Moscow. I played hockey in Petrovsky Park. Yes, the conditions were good there, but we’re talking about the 90s. Then we faced a shortage of ice. We had only one playground, and was given only 45-50 minutes on it. Therefore, we used what we could.”
Ovechkin was asked if he could compare the differences between the training of young hockey players in Russia and America. “If we start talking about this topic now, half a day will pass. Everyone has their own preparation. It is clear that somewhere is better, and somewhere worse. to constantly learn. At the same time, do not forget about your own, dear, but do the right mix.”
By Diane Doyle