On August 24, 2023, the traditional hockey tournament “Copa del Mayor” opened in Moscow. The composition of the participants is the same for the third season in a row: CSKA Moscow, Dynamo, Spartak, Vityaz near Moscow, as well as the Far Eastern guests of the capital – Khabarovsk Amur and Chinese Kunlun.
It is true that the tournament began before the official opening. In the afternoon session, Spartak faced Vityaz not without difficulties. Already in the evening part of the program there was a colorful opening, followed by the main course – the derby between Dynamo and CSKA. It was clear that this summer people missed real hockey, and we must also pay tribute to the organizers, thanks to widespread advertising, a very decent audience was gathered for the game – the Megasport Sports Palace was filled to capacity. This had never been seen before.
Interest aroused not only the match itself, but also the presence of active fans of the army, who, five years after the announced boycott of the club’s management, decided to return to the stands in the new season. It was stated that the reasons for such a decisive act were very dubious: allegedly, many of the football fans cannot attend CSKA matches from FAN ID, which means that they turned all their attention to hockey. One boycott is abandoned and another is started – this is precisely the leitmotif of the behavior of the main fans of the military club.
The match was attended by about 150 people with historically inconvenient Dynamo players, nothing more. They waved flags furiously, chanted, but all this was a drop in the ocean of what happened at the red and blue games five years ago. Perhaps the Mayor’s Cup is just a warm-up before the imminent start of the KHL season, and the rest of the people will catch up with the official matches. The panorama of the pre-season tournaments so far only indicates that the fans will not return anywhere or that their numbers have been reduced tenfold.
The match began with playful attacks from the military team, which of course was the staunch favourite. Brotherly Dinamo decided to play on the counter-attack and indeed their first playful outing ended in a goal against goalkeeper Alexander Sharychenkov. Vladislav Mikhailov, after the pass from the experienced Ilya Kablukov, sent the puck into the rival goal 1:0.
But in general, the CSKA hockey players looked more solid on the ice, which only confirms the unshakable status of the owner of the Gagarin Cup for the past two years. And a couple of minutes before the end of the first half they tied. Following passes from Nikita Nesterov and Konstantin Akulov, Vladislav Kamenev delivered the 1:1 puck with a strong shot down the middle. Thus ended the first segment of the team.
The beginning of the second segment did not change the panorama of the game. Regardless, the army team was a bit faster and much more solid in almost every aspect of the game. And even it was impossible to say that this hockey is summer. Give CSKA a chance, they could already claim the third KHL trophy in a row. The banal expression that “the season will show who is who” in this case could not apply. Four and a half minutes after the start of the period, the favorite scored the second goal. The multiple combination started by Sergey Plotnikov and continued by Konstantin Akulov was completed by Kamenev with his second goal of the match. 1:2
The Blue and Whites had to rely on mistakes in the army’s defense, but to Dinamo’s chagrin, there were hardly any. Also, the nearby benches placed both teams under the obligation to roll the puck into each other’s zones, but for obvious reasons, CSKA did it more or less decently. Dinamo’s defense worked hard. And the relaxed champion coach Sergei Fedorov watched what was happening with a philosophical look. But not everything in hockey is predictable, and the Dynamo proved it when they leveled the score late in the period. The assertive forwards of the team literally pushed the puck into the goal of the military team, taking it to the locker room. Daniil Pylenkov turned out to be the fastest of all in the area. 2:2.
The third period was again dedicated to monitoring the activities of the army. Once again, less than five minutes have passed since the start of the period, when CSKA took the lead, by inertia continuing to get the already finished majority. Darren Dietz and Maxim Mamin assisted regular scorer Mikhail Grigorenko 2:3. Then there were rapid reciprocal attacks, but it seemed that they only determined a certain danger, but did not carry any special gunpowder in themselves. And so the game ended. This victory will allow CSKA to play at least the match for the 3rd place of the tournament.