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Davos miss Spengler Cup hat-trick

HC Davos player Lonny Bohonos score the team's second goal - not enough to win the Spengler Cup.

(Keystone)

HC Davos narrowly missed their dream of clinching three Spengler Cup titles in a row after Team Canada beat the local Swiss team 4:3.

The Canadians shut the door on the home team in the final period of the 76th Spengler Cup final in Davos on Tuesday.

HC Davos matched the Canadian all-star team goal-for-goal until HC Zurich attacker, Jan Alston - playing for the Canadians - slammed a shot past Davos goalkeeper Lars Weibel in the 54th minute.

The Team Canada victory - in front of a record crowd of 7,680 fans - is the team's ninth cup title.

For the Davos team, it ends a two-year winning streak in the prestigious competition.

Rich in tradition

The Spengler Cup - which remains one of the world's most famous club tournaments - has been an institution in Davos since the 1920s.

Every year, between Christmas and New Year, organisers invite three of Europe's top teams - as well as a selection of Canadian professionals - to compete head-to-head against HC Davos in the team's home stadium.

For hockey fans it's an opportunity to see some of the world's best teams up close.

Over 84,000 tickets were sold to this year's 11 games, while televised broadcasts were expected to reach some 260 million viewers in 131 countries.

The town of Davos also relies on the series to provide a mid-winter financial boost - helping to fill the town's hotels and restaurants with visiting fans.

Player's attitudes to the series have also evolved. Once considered an enjoyable mid-season reprieve from national contests, the Cup has grown in stature and prestige.

Rather than hanging out with fans at Davos's many bars, players take the contest deadly seriously.

Prestige, as well as the cup's tight schedule, ensures competition is fierce.

Eleven games are played during the six-day competition - including a round-robin series in which each of the five teams plays each other once. The top two teams then face off in the final.

To win, teams must be consistent and recover fast from each clash - often after only an overnight break.

Proud history

Adding to the Cup's allure is a history spanning more than three-quarters of a century.

During the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, the Spengler Cup was dominated by teams from Eastern Europe.

It was only when organisers formed a team of top Canadian professionals - under the banner of Team Canada Select - that a credible challenger to the Soviet block emerged.

Since 1983, Canadians have won eight cups - dominating the competition in the late 1990s.

For the local hosts, HC Davos, the Cup has always been a tough gig to win. The club has taken part 61 times, winning 12 titles.

HC Davos went without a Cup win for 42 years, before finally breaking the drought in 2000. Davos backed up the win last year, clinching a dramatic 4:3 victory over Team Canada.

This year the local team started strongly, winning its match-ups against Sparta Prague, TKS Turku and the Cologne Sharks.

Only Team Canada beat Davos in the preliminary games - 2:3 on Monday.

swissinfo, Jacob Greber

In brief

Team Canada beats HC Davos 4:3

Spengler Cup
Founded in 1923.
Played in Davos ever year between Boxing Day to New Year's Eve.
The Cup is an 11-game series - each team play every other team once (four games), plus a final.

Results after round-robin series:
Team Canada (selection of Canadian pros) - 4 wins.
HC Davos (Swiss)- 3 wins.
Cologne Sharks (German) - 2 wins.
TKS Turku (Finnish)- 1 win.
Sparta Prague (Czechs)- 4 losses.

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