Ukraine Launches Championship as Hopes for Peace Rise

Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation has finally managed to start the much delayed national championships. The first games in the competition were played at the very days when the nation was hoping for success of the presidential level peace talks in Minsk (Belarus). There the presidents of Ukraine, Russia, France and Chancellor of Germany as well as the president of the host country worked on peaceful solution for the conflict raging in Ukraine’s East.

Four teams are playing in the Ukrainian national hockey championships this year. The four teams represent the country’s centre, North, and East. The teams from the West of the country, as well as South are not represented this year. Two of the four teams come from the capital area (Kyiv and suburbs): HC “Generals” and ATEK. HC “Kremenchuk” comes from the town of Kremenchuk in Poltava region in the centre of the country. “Vityaz” represents the East of Ukraine and comes from the city of Kharkiv.

ATEK vs Generals, Ukraine's 2015 championship
ATEK vs Generals at Ukraine’s 2015 championship

As of Sunday, 15 February 2015 the teams have played 2 games each already. Currently, the clear leader is HC “Kremenchuk” with 6 points after two victorious games against “Vityaz”. The two Kyiv teams, ATEK and “Generals”, each has 3 points. This means that each of them has one victory and one loss in the two games where they played against each other. And “Vityaz” from Kharkiv has not won a single game yet and goes the fourth with zero points. Truth must be said that the team from Kharkiv is so heavily underfinanced that it has to play all the games on its own rink and cannot afford any travel.

Fighting: ATEK and Generals (Ukraine)
First Game Fighting: ATEK and Generals (Ukraine)

This championship is the 23rd national championship in Ukraine and everything was set for this championship not to happen. The war in the East, revolutionary societal changes, economic misery and financial instability in Ukraine were reasons strong enough to justify skipping the season. Miraculously, however, the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine has managed to motivate four teams to play a short and well-planned tournament lasting several months.

The tournament is enjoying great success and popularity in the country nowadays. The sports audiences were missing the games badly. Now the feeling in the Ukrainian hockey circles is that it is much better to have a short tournament than no tournament at all. The local media are doing their best to popularize the game, too. Also the public supports the hockey in Ukraine – the arenas have been well attended this week.