The KHL World Games started in October in Vienna, and at the end of November, the show moved to Zurich. As it was the case one month earlier, CSKA and SKA took part in the European tour, but this time they were facing Dinamo Riga. The Gagarin Cup also made the trip to Switzerland with the teams, where it was exhibited before the game between SKA and Dinamo, and fans could step in and take a picture. Before the second game, the Gagarin Cup had an excursion through the city.
In the first game, SKA faced Dinamo Riga at the Hallenstadion, one of the oldest arenas in Europe. Thankfully for the Swiss crowd, Pavel Datsyuk returned right on time from an injury. SKA took advantage of the KHL World Games project not only to show its players' class but also had its players wearing lavender jerseys in the warmup to support a charity campaign called "Hockey against cancer."
The crowd flooded the gates for the game, and KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko, IIHF president Refe Fasel, and Russian consul in Switzerland Sergei Garmonin symbolically opened the game. The match was very close and gifted the fans with a real thriller. Before the final stanza, SKA and Dinamo were tied at one, and only Datsyuk's mastership tilted the balance in the Army men's favor.
But SKA's visit to Switzerland was memorable not only for the game but also for the pregame show. Young players from the local junior teams accompanied both teams to the ice. Each of the kids wrote "his" player a letter, as 13-years-old Timo Jenni did with Vladislav Gavrikov.
The SKA defenseman read Timo's letter and decided to reply. Not with a simple message but with a gift. SKA left Zurich right after the game, but Gavrikov asked the KHL World Games organizers to find Timo and give him his stick.
In the pause between the games against SKA and CSKA, Dinamo Riga players under the KHL World Games project had a master class for young players of the local hockey academy. This academy is the biggest in Europe, with more than 1,800 young players competing in different age categories. Boys aged 9-13 had a chance to meet professional KHL players and have a practice with them. The training ended with a fun contest: the young skaters tried to score a shootout on Dinamo's goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, while the goalies tried to stop attempts from Dinamo forwards.
A solemn ceremony opened the game between CSKA and Dinamo Riga, then hockey legends Vladimir Yurzinov and Valery Kamensky had the opening faceoff. The Red Army started up strong in the first period when they scored two unanswered goals. Then, CSKA further enlarged the gap, ending the clash with a 5-0 victory, which translates into a cumulated 14-0 in the KHL World Games.
The KHL World Games had a global resonance, with several European countries interested in having the show running at home. "I'm sure it will happen," Franz Reindl, the German hockey federation's president said. "I'm sure we could comfortably promote any team, and the game could be played in any of Cologne, Dusseldorf, or Hamburg, where there is a great arena, but for several years, there has been no hockey team. Dmitry Chernyshenko speaks of the need to work together – we have the greatest sport on Earth, so let's promote it together."
"Thanks to the French players in the KHL, especially Stephane Da Costa, fans in France are following the league," said French Hockey Federation President Luc Tardiff. "Our national team has played in the Elite Pool for 10 years, and it's time to take the next step. We're working towards staging a KHL game in Paris in the near future. It's time for people to see the KHL for themselves."
IHUK General Secretary Andy French spoke of his desire to see KHL teams come to Britain to provide the opposition in pre-tournament warmup games. "We've found it difficult to get suitable opponents in our preparations," he told KHL.ru as the Brits managed to climb up to the elite division of the IIHF World Championship. "The strongest countries are used to playing among themselves, and it's a big ask for us to get involved. So we are discussing the prospect of some KHL teams coming to us in April 2019 ."
In the end, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod and Dinamo Riga visited Great Britain to face the local national team. Soon, the KHL World Games will appear in Europe once again. This time in Davos, Switzerland!