During a one-day break in the world championships, the Park of Legends hosted Ice Hockey Day marking 70 years of Russian ice hockey. The festival was organised by the Legends League in cooperation with the Ice Hockey Day general partner, Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest non-ferrous metal producer, as well as the Hockey Legends club, with additional support from the Park of Legends sports and entertainment centre.
Ice Hockey Day culminated with a gala match, World Legends Under Moscow Stars, between champions of the Legends League’s first season, Russian Legends team, and the Legends League Stars team.
Last October, the Legends League team was represented exclusively by European players in another gala match, Legends Take Up the Challenge. This time, the team had an impressive reinforcement from across the ocean, including Chris Chelios, Lanny McDonald and Dino Ciccarelli.
The Russian team also welcomed several “new” players who had not competed in the Legends League before. They included Alexei Yashin, Alexei Morozov and Alexander Guskov.
The very beginning of the match was dominated by the guests, who made several dangerous attacks right off the bat. Russian Legends needed only two minutes to take a look around, and Alexander Mogilny scored the first goal. Almost immediately, 44 seconds after Moginly’s move, Chris Chelios evened the score.
However, Sergei Fyodorov needed even less time, 34 seconds, to get the home team ahead.
Then the game calmed down a little but not for too long. Vyacheslav Fetisov, Pavel Bure and Mogilny – again, within only 45 seconds – made Ari Sulander rake out the puck from the net. Before the first period was half way through, the score was 5:1.
Spectators had to wait for the next goal until the middle of the second period, when Roger Hansson made a beautiful shot to close the gap a little. Almost every goal in the match was masterful, which is not surprising considering the number of hockey stars per square metre.
Hansson’s goal got the relaxed Russians excited, and they responded with three consecutive goals, two by Pavel Bure, who perfomed the hat trick.
There was hardly any doubt about who would win the match, but the guests were determined to improve the score in the third period since they could not win back lost points. The last 15 minutes of the match were spectacular, with each goal more amazing than the next. Russia took pride in Andrei Kovalenko, and the guests praised Jari Kurri, Chris Chelios and Lanny McDonald. Legends League Stars had a chance to score twice or even three more times, but Sergei Zvyagin, who replaced Maxim Mikhailovsky after Hansson’s goal during the second period, came to the rescue of his team every time. Zvyagin was quite good at warding off attacks, keeping the net clear for over 12 minutes. Jari Kurri scored the first goal into his net right after Dino Ciccarelli pressed Zvyagin against the boards, which would cost him a two-minute penalty in an official match but only amused both the spectators and the players this time.
At the end of the game, when the Legends League Stars replaced goaltender Ari Sulander with the sixth player, Zvyagin shone although two plays were too much even for him. Lanny McDonald brilliantly completed one of them after Otakar Janecky made a gorgeous back pass. In the second play, 15 seconds before the final buzzer, Bengt-Ake Gustafsson failed to close the gap and missed the empty net corner.
After the end of the game, the players stayed in the arena for a long time sharing their experience of the match, posing for photos and giving interviews right on the ice. They apparently wanted the event to last as long as possible. The audience continued to applaud their favourites who proved once again that time has no power over their mastery.
Russian Legends vs Legends League Stars 9:5 (5:1, 3:1, 1:3)
1:0 Mogilny (Guskov, Kovalenko) 2:16
1:1 Chelios (Peterek) 3:00
2:1 Fyodorov (Fetisov, Larionov) 3:54
3:1 Fetisov 5:50 (penalty shot)
4:1 Bure (Fyodorov) 6:08
5:1 Mogilny (Kamensky, Kovalenko) 6:35
5:2 Hansson (Svensson, Janecky) 23:37
6:2 Bure (Fyodorov, Fetisov) 24:46
7:2 Guskov 26:04
8:2 Bure (Larionov, Fyodorov) 29:01
8:3 Kurri 35:42
9:3 Kovalenko (Guskov, Mogilny) 41:09
9:4 Chelios (Kurri) 41:32
9:5 McDonald (Janecky) 43:37
Russian Legends: Mikhailovsky (23:37 Zvyagin); Fetisov – Kasatonov, Byakin – Guskov, Tyurikov – Shargorodsky; Fyodorov – Larionov – Bure, Kamensky – Mogilny – Kovalenko, Prokhorov – Yashin – Morozov, Kozhevnikov, Boldin.
Legends League Stars: Sulander (43:49 – 43:47, 44:35 – 45:00 empty net); Rohlin – Svensson, Hiemer – Virta, Chelios – Scerban, Renz; Naslung – Gustafsson – Hansson, Kurri – Helminen – Ciccarelly, Moravec – Peterek – Janecky, McDonald.