The All-Star team of the Russia’s junior league – the MHL – has left for the US to take part in an exhibition hockey tour.
While the junior national team have already dropped the puck in at the World Championships in the US, another team from Russia is about to start their campaign in North America.
Russia probably has as many hockey players as Brazil has footballers. And the team, called the Red Stars, was formed from the best players in the MHL, a youth branch of the Kontinental Hockey League.
However, the extreme weather conditions nearly spoiled the tour, as the team could not leave for the US on December 26, spending the whole day in the airport.
One fixture of the six-match campaign had to be cancelled as a result.
However, the flights got back on schedule and the Red Stars finally landed in Boston on December 28. They started playing straight away.
After two matches in the US, the MHL All-Star team will head to Canada for three more games.
However, the tour is not only about promoting the League. The players will gain invaluable experience of international matches and probably get a chance to be called into the national teams.
“The MHL is just two years old, and it's a great opportunity for us to play abroad. We are the trailblazers so, depending on our performance, such tours will either become regular occurrences or not,” the Red Star’s Mikhail Churlyaev said.
“This journey is not for tourism. We are eager to win. Anyway, it will be very interesting to face our peers from the US and Canada,” Churlyaev ‘s teammate, Egor Yakovlev, added.
Despite being an inaugural event, this tour is already a success, as it marks a new step in Russia co-operating with their North American counterparts – and the development of junior hockey in Russia.