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Moscow Region Developing World-Class Hockey Industry
By Denis Neznanov
(Published December 16, 2006)

A number of new ice arenas have been built within Moscowís boundaries within just the last 6 years. Many foreigners still think that Moscow region is same as Moscow city. In fact, there is a big difference between the two separate territorial divisions. The Moscow region comprises dozens of towns with a population of over 150-170 000 and 50-70 000 people including the megalopolis of Moscow with its population of 10,500,000. The total population of the Moscow region is estimated to be approximately 6,596,600 people without Moscow city by 2007.

In 1999, the Moscow region had only 2 ice arenas with artificial ice: one in Elektrostal town 58 kilometers away from Moscow and one in the hockey town of Voskresensk 80 kilometers distance which is known as the place that produced the biggest number of NHL Stanley Cup winners: Igor Larionov in 1997, 1998 and 2002 with Detroit, Valery Kamensky in 1996 with Colorado, Vyacheslav Kozlov 1997 and 1998 with Detroit, and Valery Zelepukin in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils.

Currently, the Moscow region has 11 newly built ice arenas and some that have undergone massive reconstruction to match the best world standards.

In 2000, the Ice Palace Vityaz opened in Podolsk town, which is just 38 kilometers away from Moscow cityís ring road. Itís a versatile sports complex for many kinds of sports with a capacity of 4,670 spectators. Also nearby is a practice rink with nice buffet where the players may have snacks. It was twice the successful home ice for international competitions U-17 Four Nations tournaments: in 2003 for 1986-born players and in 2005 for 1989 kids officially controlled by IIHF.

In 2001, a new Ice Palace was launched in Odintsovo town, which is 24 kilometers away and approximately 30 minutes driving distance from Moscow. This Odintsovo Ice Arena became the practice rink for the Russian National team in hockey and many league teams.

In 2003, a new Ice Palace Olympyski was opened in Chekhov town which is 77 kilometers to the south of Moscow. It has a capacity 3,000 with a VIP lounge for 63 people and nice buffet at the hall of arena. Itís the home arena of the Russian league team VITAYAZ Chekhov.

Also in 2003, a new arena was build in Dmitrov town, which is 67 kilometers away from the capital of Russia. Its new Ice Arena seats 2,000. Itís a modern Sports Complex with practice rink, restaurants and bar for the hockey fans. This Ice Arena became home to the HC Dmitrov hockey club playing in Division I league of Russia.

In Klin, which is about 89 kilometers from Moscow, 2 Ice Arenas have been built. One was constructed in 2003 and was named for the great Soviet player Valeri Kharlamov. In 2005, the town decided to have its own hockey club at a professional level. The HC Klin club made its debut in Division I league of Russia for the 2006-07 season. It became so popular among hockey players and fans that deficit of ice time was noticed very soon. The Moscow region government made the decision to build one more ice arena with artificial ice.

In 2004, the old Ice Palace of the world-known hockey team Voskresensk Khimik underwent a renovation for the first time since it was built in 1953. Now the new Ice Arena has been renamed Podmoskovye after the Moscow region territory where itís based and boasts bigger capacity of 4,500 seats.

In 2005, the excellent Ice Arena Captain in Stupino town, just 110 kilometers away from Moscow, was opened. With a capacity of 1,500 people. It opened right before the 2006 World Junior Championships successful place of important IIHF 4-nations tournament for juniors Under-20 category in November 2005.

In 2006, one of the best Ice Arenas in Russia was opened in Mytischi town, which is just outside Moscow. Its versatile 3-story Sports Complex which has stretching capacity from 7,000 seats to 9,000.  The Mytischi Ice Arena became the home for the Russian professional league team Podmoskovye Mytischi. The town was the scene of the important IIHF Five Nations tournament for juniors Under-18 category in February 2006. Then it won a contest alongside Moscow to become the host of 2007 World Senior Championships in ice hockey.

In Zelenograd, 50 kilometers away from Moscow, in Mozhaysk, 110 kilometers away, and in Lukhovitsy, 130 kilometers away, new ice arenas were opened as well.

In 2007, the town of Balashikha, which is just outside Moscow ring road, is supposed to complete its new versatile Ice Arena with a capacity of 6,000 seats, VIP zones, practice rink etc. This new Ice Arena will become the home of the Russian league team HC MVD sponsored by Russian police and which is currently sharing the ice in Podolsk with the junior team Vityaz.

During 2001-2005, hockey schools in Mozhaysky, Stupinsky, Chkhovsky, Klinsky, Dmitrovsky, Mytishinsky and Zaraysky districts of Moscow region started up. In 2001, just 11,160 young players were involved in hockey within the region, but by 2005 the number was 14,928.

Plans also call for building more than 100 open air skating rinks in the backyards of schools and universities each year. Annual stipends will be awarded to the 15 most talented players of the districts. According to the Chairman of Moscow region committee in charge of Physical Culture and Sports, Sergei Pernikov, ideas of a hockey development program in the region would be included in a special Moscow regionís governmental program until 2015.

The region has two top professional Russian league clubs Mytishi Podmoskovye and HC MVD alongside five Division I league teams in Voskresensk, Dmitrov, Klin, Elektrostal and Stupino. You canít find in Russia any region with 7 hockey teams in such good condition to develop its young players into the worldís best talents. These absolutely astounding results in the last 7 years of hockey development in the region around Moscow where, disappearance of professional league teams Spartak and Krylia and the former Soviets standing on the verge of poverty and relying on rented arenas, canít but deserve the utmost respect of the local population to its Governor Boris Gromov.

WELCOME to Russia: site of the 2007 World Senior Championships in Ice Hockey.


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