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Putin hits ice at Night Hockey League match in Sochi

The Russian president is playing in the Night Hockey League Stars team versus a squad of amateur hockey players

SOCHI, May 10 /TASS/. A gala match between the Night Hockey League Stars team and a squad of amateur hockey players has ended 9-5 in favor of the Night Hockey League Stars for which Russian President Vladimir Putin had played.

The first period ended 3-0 in favor of Putin’s team. Putin hit the ice in the second period in his traditional No. 11 red jersey and even delivered one puck.

After the match, the Russian president shared his impression of the game in an interview aired by the Match TV sports channel. He noted it had been a training game. "People who organize and do that and play in 68 regions are certainly fine fellows! These people do real work and set a good example to others!" Putin said. He added that the players of the Night Hockey League Stars are middle-aged people starting from 45 years old. The president thinks that they are setting a good example to their families and neighbors. "I am happy that the project has succeeded," Putin stressed.

Talking about the Russian National Ice-Hockey team, Putin added that it was sport of a different level. "It is a sport of high achievements, and we wish success and bright victories to our national team with all our hearts," the president concluded.

After the gala match, Alexander Yakushev, the two-times Olympic champion and president of the Night Hockey League Stars, presented the KHL Cup to President Putin’s team.

Putin was the initiator of creating the Night Hockey League. It united amateurs of this kind of sport who met in the evening after their work to play ice hockey. The participation of Soviet and Russian ice hockey stars helped organize systematic tournaments among amateur teams in various regions of the country and then bring them into a single championship.

The squad of the Night Hockey League stars, which participated in the gala match, comprised veteran hockey players, many of whom are the League’s board members and curators. They faced a team composed of Russia’s best amateur hockey players who came to a festival in Sochi as the winners of the qualifying stages in the "Amateur 40+" division.

Apart from Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Soviet legend Vyacheslav Fetisov, the Night Hockey League Stars squad comprised legendary Soviet goaltender Vladimir Myshkiin, Soviet ice hockey stars Irek Gimayev, Alexander Golikov and Vladimir Golikov, Valery Kamensky, Alexei Kasatonov, Alexander Kozhevnikov, Viktor Shalimov and famous Russian hockey player Pavel Bure.

The opponent squad comprised Russian politicians, businessmen and other figures, including Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, billionaires Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg, Vladimir Potanin and others.

Putin played in the Night Hockey League’s match for the fourth time. Russia's leader played in a Night Hockey League game for the first time in May 2012 in Moscow, just hours after the ceremony of his inauguration for the third presidential term. The Russian president subsequently played in the League’s matches in 2014 and 2015, scoring a total of 16 goals in the three games.

In 2013, Putin watched a game of the Night Hockey League from a tribune of the Bolshoi Arena during the first gala match as part of the festival in Sochi.

Russia’s Night Hockey League was established in 2011. The competitions comprise two qualifying stages and a final tournament held annually in May in Sochi.

The Night League management includes famous Soviet ice hockey players: Night Hockey League President Alexander Yakushev; the curators of the League’s conferences - Pavel Bure, Viktor Shalimov, Alexander Gusev, Alexei Kasatonov, Vladimir Myshkin, Alexei Zhamnov, Vladimir Lutchenko and others.

The first gala match of the Night Hockey League took place at the Sports Palace at Khodynka field on May 7, 2012.