The Junior Hockey League Challenge Cup is one of the big events of the season. For the past 11 years the league’s top players have formed teams representing East and West to battle for the honor of their conferences. The current score is 8-3 in the West’s favor, but each game has been a battle royale. And the prize is greater than just a prestigious trophy: four of the best players will get the chance to take part in the KHL All-Star Game alongside the legends of the big league.
The Challenge Cup was first contested in 2010. The battle of the conferences has played out in St. Petersburg (2010), Ufa (2011 and 2017), Magnitogorsk (2012), Yekaterinburg (2013), Nizhny Novgorod (2014), Cherepovets (2015), Nizhnekamsk (2016 and 2019), Astana (2018) and Moscow (2020).
Over the years, the likes of Viktor Antipin, Nikita Gusev, Roman Lyubimov, Nikita Nesterov, Vladimir Tkachyov, Nikita Tryamkin and Igor Shestyorkin have all illuminated the Challenge Cup.
In recent years, the Challenge Cup has become a literal launch pad into adult hockey: since 2017, the four best players in this showcase have earned the chance to take part in the KHL All-Star Game, learning from the best and proving their own worth.
Current KHL stars who got the chance to join their senior colleagues at the All-Star Game include Igor Geraskin (Severstal), Nikolai Kovalenko (Ak Bars), Yegor Korobkin (Metallurg), Mark Verba (Admiral) and Kirill Marchenko (SKA). They all enjoyed the chance not only to play with the top stars of the KHL, but also to show their talents in the Skill Show.
The Challenge Cup is an important chapter in the career of each generation of junior players. And the latest chance to make a leap forward awaits them at the upcoming battle in Chelyabinsk.