What is the Spengler Cup and why is it important?

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The Spengler Cup reaches it’s 99th birthday after the first iteration of the competition was played in 1923.

But, what is the Spengler Cup and why is it something you should be interested in?

The History

Dr Carl Spengler from Davos was a big fan of his local ice hockey club HC Davos and wanted to bring together different nations following World War One.

He donated a challenge cup in 1923 to offer nations who had been enemies a chance to compete in a peaceful battle.

This paved the way for the inaugural Spengler Cup, the first match was played between Wiener EV and Berliner SC.

Oxford and Cambridge University both put forward teams to compete in this first year as well.

By 1924 there are 15 teams competing and the Spengler Cup is now highly regarded within the ice hockey community.

Some even equated it to the Davis Cup for tennis in terms of value as a trophy.

1927 sees HC Davos win their first cup after a 3-2 win over Berliner SC who have been reigning champions.

In 1932 LTC Praha and Oxford University were crowned joint tournament winners after a goalless game.

By 1960 fans can watch from outside the arena as the tournament is broadcast on TV, the games were also played on artificial ice.

The 70s saw the reputation of the tournament rise as in 1979 there are over 40,000 spectators present.

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They also saw new entries into the tournament in the shape of Japan’s Olympic side who finished third in 1971.

The 80s and 90s revolutionised the tournament with new entrants such as Team Canada and USA Selects raising the competitions profile.

These North American powerhouses bring in even more fans as the competition breaks the 60,000 mark in terms of spectators.

The added publicity also means sponsors are given more marketing which in turn created more revenue.

The 90s saw more innovation as a professional AHL team competes for the first time in the shape of the Rochester Americans.

Andy Murray (no, not that one) was also nicknamed ‘Mr Spengler Cup’ this decade after winning the trophy with Team Canada for the sixth time.

The turn of the millennium sees Team Canada and HC Davos rise to prominence again winning the trophy six times between them.

HC Davos managed to hold onto their record of most competition wins (15) until 2019 when Team Canada won their 16th.

This was the last time the competition was played with covid seeing the 2020 and 2021 iterations cancelled.

Team Canada are reigning champs currently and record winners of the competition.

How does it work?

The format of the competition is unusual compared to others, with just six teams competing since 2010.

There are two groups of three teams, each team will play each other once in their respective groups.

The team that finishes top of their group will then progress to the semi-finals where they await the winners of the pre-semi-final.

From here it’s just straight knock-out ice hockey, with the winners of the semi-finals facing each other in the final.

This means any team reaching the final will play four games in total and all teams play at least three games.

With opening and closing ceremonies including videos and music and the history of the tournament it isn’t just about the hockey on show.

The 2022 iteration of the competition will be played between the 26th to the 31st of December.

If you want to watch the world’s oldest invitational ice hockey tournament and spend your New Years Eve in the idyllic Swiss Alps click here.

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