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Kontinental Hockey League stages first match in Dubai – Insidethegames.biz

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The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) has staged its first-ever match in Dubai as part of a weekend celebrating Russia and winter sports alongside the delayed Expo 2020 event in the United Arab Emirates city.
Ak Bars Kazan overcame last season’s champions Avangard Omsk 3-1 at Coca-Cola Arena as the UAE became the 15th country and Dubai the 48th city to hold a KHL match, with Artyom Galimov, Steven Kampfer and Mikhail Glukhov on the scoresheet before Nikita Soshnikov grabbed a consolation goal for Omsk.
A total of 5,150 spectators watched on, with the venue’s capacity having been limited to 7,000 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Figure skating also featured heavily as part of the weekend’s activities.
Russia’s Tatyana Navka, an ice dancing gold medallist at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics, performed an ice ballet based on Sleeping Beauty, while the Pyeongchang 2018 ladies’ singles champion Alina Zagitova took part in the pre-game show alongside Ak Bars mascot IceBars.
The KHL launched its World Games series in the 2018-2019 season, with regular-season matches previously being played in Austria and Switzerland.
KHL President Alexei Morozov explained that the match in Dubai represented a shift towards playing in a country where ice hockey is developing, with the UAE joining the International Ice Hockey Federation in 2001 and currently having 590 registered players.
“We want to be pioneers in places where people don’t know what hockey’s all about,” Morozov said.
First of many hockey goals in Dubai 🇦🇪.#KHLWorldGames pic.twitter.com/ekkl3SgAtY
“We have everything ready.
“The more countries we can visit, the more KHL fans we can find.”
KHL sides are predominantly from Russia, although there are also teams based in Belarus, China, Finland, Latvia and Kazakhstan.
It is widely considered the second-best ice hockey league in the world behind North America’s National Hockey League.
Avangard’s head coach Bob Hartley said he felt the match in Dubai proved a tremendous success.
“Everything that we did here was a big win for hockey and the KHL,” he said.
“Apart from our result, the whole trip was excellently organised, I’d like to congratulate everyone for their work on this event.”
Ak Bars captain Artyom Lukoyanov commented: “We flew in, we had a bit of time to look around, sunbathe and swim.
“In a short time, we managed to relax and play our hockey.
“It’s great that we won today, we’ll fly home happy.
“I think every player and coach in the KHL would get behind a new team in the UAE.
“After all, nobody thought we could create a team in Sochi, but we did.”
Patrick Burke is a junior reporter at insidethegames.biz, having joined the team in 2021. He started out as the programme editor for local non-league football club Cammell Laird 1907 in 2014 at the age of 15, and went on to serve as the club’s media officer for six years, all on a voluntary basis. He studied history at the University of Sheffield from 2017, graduating with a first-class honours degree in 2020 where his dissertation was on the People’s Olympiad in Barcelona in 1936. Whilst at Sheffield, Burke was sports editor and then deputy editor of Forge Press, one of the United Kingdom’s leading student newspapers. Burke spent a summer studying at Waseda University in Tokyo in 2018, and during sixth form travelled to Sierra Leone on an immersion retreat as well as the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
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