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Russia’s Unconventional Approach: “Russia 25” Team and the Absence of Senior Players at Pre-Christmas Event

Last year, Russia invited representatives from the friendly countries of Belarus and Kazakhstan to a traditional pre-Christmas event. However, the team loaded with big names from the KHL did not live up to expectations and suffered a shocking defeat in overtime against Belarus in the final in front of their own fans.

The host country is reacting to last year’s collapse perhaps somewhat surprisingly by not being officially represented at the tournament by a regular senior player, but by a selection labeled “Russia 25”, i.e. a sort of under-25 team led by the man of many functions, Roman Rotenberg.

According to information from the Russian media, the younger team should be much more motivated against weaker opponents than the classic A team with star names.

In addition, among the participants of the competition is the representation of another friendly country – China, which belongs to Group B, Division 1 at the World Championship level. In the IIHF ranking, it ranks 26th, for example behind Romania, Lithuania and Japan.

The Russian server championat.com writes about the fact that the team cannot compete with the world’s best teams “for political reasons”.

“You can be sad all you want about the fact that we don’t have opponents from leading hockey countries. But let it remain on the conscience of those who hide behind political reasons, while most members of the hockey community of Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic are looking forward to being able to play with Russia,” the mentioned server writes.

During the recent Karjala tournament, all four hockey federations currently participating in the Euro Hockey Tour, i.e. the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland, agreed that the EHT would continue in the same format until at least the end of the 2026/27 season. That is, without Russia, which intervened in the series for the last time in December 2021.

In addition, Championat.com expects that all team matches with China et al. will be sold out.

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