hc cska humiliated 10-0 as team strike

Russian hockey fans were left rubbing their ears or eyes in disbelief Thursday morning when the news broke that HC CSKA had lost 10-0 to an obscure team from the town of Nizhnekamsk, about 900 kilometers east of Moscow.

To rub salt into the wounds, the loss to Neftekhimik happened at Moscow's CSKA Sports Palace -- long the home to the Central Sports Club Army club that was the perennial powerhouse of Soviet hockey.

The humiliation of the HC CSKA side, one of two CSKA teams competing in the Russian Hockey League's Western Zone, was inevitable even before the scheduled start of Wednesday's match.

Ninety minutes before the start of the game, HC CSKA's regular players decided to strike over the nonpayment of wages, national sports daily Sport Express reported.

Rather than forfeit the match, team management decided to send out a team made up almost entirely of juniors, the newspaper reported, with the majority being under 17 years of age.

The boys in men's skates were outshot 49 to 11, with the team from Neftkekhimik taking the margin into double figures some 95 seconds before the final buzzer.

An internal dispute that began two years ago at the old Red Army club is partly behind Wednesday's farce. Colonel Alexander Baranovsky, the head of the CSKA club, decided in 1995 to fire the hockey team's coach, Viktor Tikhonov -- a legendary figure who was behind numerous Soviet and Red Army club triumphs.

Tikhonov refused to budge and started his own CSKA team, while Baranovsky carried on with his CSKA hockey team. Hence, in the RHL Western Zone, Tikhonov's HC CSKA and Baranovsky's CSKA are among the 14 sides competing during the competition's first stage.

Baranovsky's team -- currently holding down seventh spot -- has struck a deal with the mighty Uneximbank to end any funding woes it might have had.