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Belarus President signs ice hockey stick for charity

Belarus for the ninth time in history won the main trophy of the Christmas ice hockey tournament. With the score 2-1 in the final match, the Belarusian President's team defeated Finland.

This was the first final in the history of the Christmas tournament, in which Russia did not take part. The Finnish team became the main mythbusters. The well-known rule of "survival of the fittest" worked perfectly. Moreover, Russia this time were left without medals altogether. Sweden and Slovakia fought for bronze. The latter found their play and team cohesiveness closer to the end of the tournament and won 17-3.   Slovaks from the third attempt got Christmas ice hockey tournament medals in Minsk.

Miroslav Satan, Slovakia:
With such support, it is much nicer to play! We had a good time at the tournament. The result, in principle, is not so important compared to the fact that we played together with my teammates against the strongest contenders.     

The Belarusian squad, without changing traditions, for the twelfth time in a row reached the final match. The opponent this time was extremely motivated.The youth team of Finland had just won the U20 World Championship, after all. By the way, in that final they beat Russia.  From the first minutes uncompromising struggle for the coveted trophy began. And soon Belarus conceded a goal.

Tedi Salyutsky, player of the national team of Finland:
This is a good hockey, we're playing at high speeds, we scored an important goal and we will try to keep our advantage. 

Denis Matyukhin, player, Belarus President's ice hockey team:
Not a bad game, good movement. But the Finns created only one dangerous moment, and scored the goal, we need to add movement. I think all we can do it.    

The Finnish national team six times previously occupied third place in the tournament. And it's a debut in the tournament final.  But to get gold from the first attempt is almost impossible. Belarus finally leveled the game and then went in front.

Fans:
Impressions are enormous! The fight is very exciting, we hope that Belarus will win. We support Belarus!

The tradition of our family is to celebrate Christmas at the Christmas final tournament for the prize of the President. For us, this is the eighth tournament. Children are growing up and for them hockey for Christmas is a good tradition, the family gets together, not only at the Christmas table, near the Christmas tree but also at the ice hockey arena.      

Toward the end of the match tempers flared. In several episodes, even experienced players were not able to cope with emotions. The struggle continued until the last minute.

The final figures on the scoreboard were 2-1 in favor of hosts Belarus. This is the ninth trophy of the Christmas tournament won by the Belarusian national team.  A colorful awards ceremony was the final chord of the competition, which gave a huge amount of positive emotions to the audience and all players.

Oleg Antonenko, Presidential ice hockey team:
A lot of fun, a lot of positive emotions. We pleased our fans, friends, and relatives. I think that was a super show, truly unforgettable!      

Timo Vertala, player of the national team of Finland:
It was a wonderful event. We and I hope the fans had a lot of fun. I will definitely come to Minsk again.

  Alexander Lukashenko after the match talked to the press.

Alexander Lukashenko:
There were very strong teams, very strong, who can safely play in the championships in their countries. At least in the Belarusian championship - that's for sure. This is the most memorable. This suggests that the tournament is gaining popularity. And I already see the desire of some teams to come again next year. Slovaks said, Supler, their coach, said: "We will arrive with the better team." I say: "OK, but the draw will pit you against Russia, who are also going to send a super team next year."
I was struck by the Arabs.  We came there first time and they did not have ice hockey at all. Today, they are building skating rinks there for adults and kids. Well done. They are taught by Canadians and Americans. And the first coaches there were Tolia Varivonchik and Faikov. Therefore, our coaches were the first there.

Journalist:
Mr Lukashenko, 12 events have already been held. In your opinion, which one do you remember most? Your personal impressions.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Of course, the last tournament and the first.

Many this year have noticed the fact that Belarusians experienced difficulties winning in several games.

Alexander Lukashenko:
I honestly did not think that we would win. We had it hard with Slovakia but we did not think that the Finns would do so well. Smart, intelligent and strong guys. They gave life to ice hockey.

Journalist:
Many stars, including from the NHL have come in the 12 years. Whose game do you remember most?

Alexander Lukashenko:
The Finnish goaltender.

One of the journalists, after the interview, also received a symbolic gift: a stick autographed by the President. According to the new owner, it will soon be put up for a charity auction. 

Belarus President gives ice hockey stick for charity