The 2012 Finland Winter Classic drew a crowd of 34,264 despite being played in -10 degree weather. (Photo credit: Matti Korpi, Jokerit.com with more photos)
Team Russia, led by Evgeny Kuznetsov, will play in an outdoor game in Helsinki tomorrow as part of the Oddset Hockey Games tournament in Sweden in the third round of EuroHockeyTour, an annual four-round competition between leading European hockey nations Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic.
Team Russia is set to play against Finland in the outdoor Helsinki Olympic Stadium on February 9th as part of the ongoing SM-Liiga Winter Classic festivities. Local rivals HIFK and Jokerit played a game in the stadium on Saturday, which HIFK won, 3-2 in overtime. Five of the players who participated in Saturday’s game will play for Finland tomorrow, three from Jokerit and two from HIFK.
Russia will be missing some of their best players, including KHL goal and point leader Alexander Radulov, who has been given the tournament off in order to rest. Finland will be working with an imperfect roster as well with the biggest name in their line-up being former Whaler, Hurricane, and Flyer Sami Kapenen. [Ed. Note: Kapanen recently pulled out of the tournament.] NHL top prospect and HIFK star Mikael Granlund, who played in the Winter Classic, will not participate.
Evgeny Kuznetsov – just named Athlete of the Month by Russia-2 TV fan voting – talked to Sports.ru after today’s training session in an arena near the Olympic Stadium. During practice, Kuznetsov was played at center on Team Russia’s first line.
First training in Finland was OK. I didn’t hear that they were planning to play me with other linemates, so I feel pretty comfortably alongside Stanislav Chistov [Ed. Note - Chistov is Kuznetsov's linemate in KHL's Traktor as well] and Nikolai Zherdev. Overall, all of our lines are very solid. There are players who can score and those who can help out the defense in every line. I wouldn’t say that we’re the first, go-to line.
Last time I played outdoors was in Traktor school. We had some home games, went to games to Chebarkul. Of course, it was a long time ago. I have to say, the cold doesn’t scare me. Today we played indoors and I can’t say it was hot.
It’s great there will be more than 30,000 people in attendance. We play in front of sell-out croud in Chelyabinsk. But the biggest attendance I played in front of is on the World Juniors in Canada. There was 19,000 people there. And that wasn’t a problem, I still felt confidently.