Richard Delacy,
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On the 10th of January, 2018, the KHL Week of Hockey Stars opens in Astana. Last year, in Ufa, the biggest hockey show of the season was held in an all-new format, so what awaits the fans in Kazakhstan?

Much of last year's successful format will be kept for Astana in 2018. The festival will once again combine the Kontinental, Youth, and Women's Hockey Leagues, but the show and the events in the fan zone promise to be even more exciting and memorable than before.

WHL All-Star Game, with its first Master Show and featuring Kazakh hockey stars

On the opening day of the Week of Hockey Stars – Wednesday, the 10th of January – the ice at the Barys Arena will welcome the finest players from the Women's Hockey League. As in Ufa last year, the All-Star Game will be contested by the Conferences in a battle between East and West, but this year, the intervals after the first and second periods will feature the first ever WHL Master Show, in which the star players compete in a variety of events devised to test their skill, speed and solo mastery..Joining the WHL stars will be two players from the Kazakhstan-based women's hockey team, Tomiris – part of the HC Barys system. 

The WHL All-Star Game begins at 18:30, local time, and the fans will also be treated to a glittering pre-match show.

YHL Challenge Cup: an uncompromising battle, for the trophy and for 4 KHL All-Star Game places

The next day – Thursday, the 11th of January – the fans get a chanc to watch the stars of tomorrow, from the Youth Hockey League. This will also be a traditional contest between the League's Eastern and Western Conferences, who will be fighting to raise the Challenge Cup trophy. Year after year, the youngsters in this match impress fans and experts alike with their tenacity and uncompromising hockey. The West has reigned surpreme during the event's 8-year history, with 6 victories against 2 for the East, but few if any would doubt that the game in Astana will be fiercely contested. And since the 2017 event there has been extra motivation: the four players who perform best in the Challenge Cup (two from each side) shall each be rewarded with a place in the KHL All-Star Game.

KHL All-Star Game: a super-tournament with a 3rd-place playoff, and innovations in the Master Show

The climax to the Week of Hockey Stars is provided by the traditional Master Show skils competition and the mini-tournament between the teams representing the Kontinental Hockey League's four divisions. Every year the organizers spring a few surprises, particularly with the Master Show. Last year's new contest, the Biathlon, turned out to be one of the highlights of the program, while “old favorites” such as the Shootout are just as popular. There are bound to be more innovations and surprises in the 2018 Maser Show, so stay tuned to this site for the latest news!

The grand finale arrives with the knockout tournament featuring the finest stars playing for the four Divisions of the League, and this year there is an extra treat: in addition to the semi-finals and final, there will also be a match to decide third place. In Ufa last year, one of the innovations was the appointment of well-known commentators as assistant coaches, broadcasting live from the teams' benches throughout the game. Who will be the All-Star coaches at Astana in 2018? All will be revealed in the not-too-distant future.

The WHL All-Star Game and the Challenge Cup will be shown live on KHL TV, while Russian federal channel Match-TV is to broadcast live coverage of the Master Show and the All-Star Game mini-tournament.

All you need to do to watch this star-studded festival at the Barys Arena in Astana, and be a part of the grandest hockey festival of 2018, is purchase tickets from the event's official website. Holders of Mastercard can already buy tickets for the Master Show and All-Star Game, and from the 24rd of November tickets go on general online sale. On the 1st of December, tickets may also be purchased from the Barys-Arena box office.

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