To mark the end of the IX season of the Kontinental Hockey League, khl.ru has put together a colorful tribute to the most important people in hockey – all of you that make up our vast army of supporters, that audience without which even the finest performances are deprived of drama. To thank the paying public for their passionate support over the course of the campaign, the League has put together a collection of some of the most joyful, beautiful, and striking photographs taken during the season, from Bratislava to Beijing – pictures of the fans, for the fans.

The happiest moments for those in the stands is, of course, when a goal is scored by their team. Nothing can beat that sudden eruption of joy or relief, experienced by all in one instant. As two-time Gagarin Cup winner Alexander Stepanov puts it, “At that moment, you feel that you and the thousands in the stadium all share a common soul.”

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Frequently the fans become the stars of live broadcasts, particularly when they don some highly imaginative costumes. And as for headgear, a full-size, multicolored, Native American headdress is hard to beat.

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There is a popular stereotype of a hockey fan, and it is typically a man or boy, but that is now a little outdated. The fairer sex is to be found in arenas in all corners of the League, and the support is no less fervent. Here are some typical, modern-day hockey fans, cheering on Lokomotiv and Ak Bars.

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Hockey has also become a family sport, and at KHL stadia, every effort is made to ensure the evening is a delight for the whole family – even the very youngest. For the rest of their days, these fans will be boasting that they have been true “lifetime supporters” of their favorite club.

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The fans’ attire often reflects the history and culture of the region their team represents. Here we have fans of Admiral Vladivostok in full maritime dress, and a follower of Salavat Yulaev Ufa proudly wearing the national costume of the Republic of Bashkortostan.

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We must not neglect to mention the elders of the parish. Some of the fans at the arenas have followed their beloved club through thick and thin, joy and pain, triumph and defeat, and often since the days of the Soviet Union championships. Such devotion commands the deepest respect.

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Even if your team loses – and which team doesn’t? - a trip to the hockey is always a joyful occasion. The main thing is to keep your head up and search for the positives, or at least put on a brave face, “to encourage the others” around you.

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Sadly, the season is over and the next one can seem an eternity away, but as advised above, we can always find something positive. This is a great time to look back on a wonderful championship and look forward to the preseason tournaments, soon followed by the tenth KHL Championship.

A big thank you to all fans of the KHL for your marvelous support throughout the 2016-17 season!

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Richard Delacy, Anna Ovchinnikova,
exclusive for khl.ru

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