Month: December 2019 (Page 1 of 2)

Canada wins fourth Spengler Cup title in five years

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Canada has won the Spengler Cup for the fourth time in the past five years.

The national men’s hockey team defeated Ocelari Trinec  of the Czechia 4-0 in the final.

Dustin Jeffrey scored twice and added an assist to lead Canada past Ocelari Trinec on Tuesday afternoon in Davos, Switzerland.

Canada lost last year’s final in a shootout against KalPa Kuopio of Finland.

It’s Canada’s fourth Spengler Cup title in the past five years and 16th overall.

Hockey federations of Turkmenistan and Russia have signed another Memorandum of cooperation


The hockey federations of Turkmenistan and Russia have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. The document was signed in Moscow by the chairman of the Turkmenistan Ice Hockey Federation Jora Hudayberdiyev and the head of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation Vladislav Tretiak.

The document includes many points, including the provision of Turkmenistan with highly qualified mentors to train leading hockey players who are part of the national team for the 2020 IIHF World Championship Division III (Group A), which will be held in April 2020 in Luxembourg. 

In 2018, the Turkmenistan Ice Hockey Federation has already signed a cooperation document with the Russian Federation, and in 2019 signed the corresponding Memorandum with the Republic of Belarus. At present, two more documents are being prepared on a bilateral exchange of experience between Turkmenistan and the Ice Hockey Federations of Latvia and Ukraine, which are very interested in issues of joint sports cooperation.

The Turkmenistan national hockey team will be led by 55-year-old famous Russian Sergei Nemchinov is completing a training camp in Minsk, Belarus in preparation for the 2020 IIHF World Championship Division III A, which will be held from April 19 to April 25, 2020 in Luxembourg.  

Introducing USA

Team USA’s Oliver Wahlstrom vs. Finland’s Toni Utunen during last year’s gold medal game

By Organizing Committee –

As the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship gets nearer, we take a look at the United States, which will again be one of the medal favourites. The U.S. team is going to be stacked with drafted players and some current NHLers may appear on the roster too. The Americans will also try to extend a streak – in the last four years, they have brought home a medal from each tournament and they will try to make it five in a row in the Czech Republic.

Ambassador’s take: Petr Mrazek

The ambassador of Team USA is goaltender Petr Mrazek, who currently plays in the NHL for the Carolina Hurricanes. Before becoming a pro, he attracted attention at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship. “I remember it well. It was a great group of guys and we came together as a team really well. We enjoyed the tournament and I think it is a gateway to professional hockey for a lot of guys,” says Mrazek.

The World Juniors are a major international event also because all countries will send the best to the fight and viewers will be able to watch top players, including those from the United States. “There will be many future stars in the NHL and European leagues – many good teams. Canada and the USA will send the best teams they have, as well as Finland and Sweden – the hockey will be excellent. In Canada and the USA, this is bigger than the men’s World Championships. Scouts from every NHL team will sit there, so you are under close scrutiny,” Mrazek shares his own experiences.

Historic World Junior Championship results

Alongside Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic, the USA is one of only six teams that have never been relegated since the World Juniors began in 1977. Despite this long history, however, the Americans had to wait nearly 30 years for their first gold medal – that came in 2004 in Helsinki when they beat Canada 4-3 in the final. Key players in that victory were goalie Al Montoya, who was chosen Best Goalkeeper of the tournament, and forward Zach Parise, whose 11 points placed him third in scoring.

Since then, the American youngsters have been dominant, winning the World Juniors three more times in 2010, 2013 and 2017. In addition to those four gold medals, they have also won two silvers and six bronzes – the first of which came in 1986.

Last year

The United States has been a dominant team at youth levels recently. In the last four World Junior Championships, it has taken home a medal from each one – last year it was silver. The Americans finished second in Group B and then beat the Czech Republic 3-1 in the quarter-finals.

After that, they won by a one-goal margin against Russia and advanced to the final, where they fell just short against Finland. Throughout the tournament, scouts, media and fans closely monitored the then 17-year-old Jack Hughes, who played in three different World Championships in 2019 and in June was selected first overall in the NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils.

Team stars

Although Hughes is still eligible to play at this tournament, he is not expected to appear considering his role in New Jersey. The Americans could put their hopes in the arms of players like Oliver Wahlstrom, a 2018 first-rounder praised for more than just their hockey sense.

Same as goaltender Spencer Knight, defencemen K’Andre Miller and Mattias Samuelsson, and forward Jack Drury he’s a returnee from last year’s team. Although Knight was the backup goalie last year in Vancouver, in June he was selected in the first round of the Draft by the Florida Panthers and, as a 2001-born player, will have a chance to present his skills in the crease – in particular his calmness and mobility.

And those aren’t the only high draft picks on a U.S. team that will certainly be worth watching.


In April 2019, USA Hockey named Scott Sandelin as head coach of the national junior team, who was an assistant coach of last year’s silver-medal team. As a player, Sandelin played in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota North Stars, as well as in the AHL and NCAA. At the 1984 World Juniors, he was the captain of the American squad and two years later also participated at the senior World Championship. He has spent most of his coaching career in the NCAA – since 2000/01 he has been head coach at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Preparations for the tournament

After the World Junior Summer Showcase, the Americans attended a training camp in December where the roster was finalized. Just before the tournament, the United States played exhibition games in the Czech Republic against Sweden and Germany.

Team schedule at 2020 WJC (local time / ET)

26 December 2019: Canada – USA (19:00 / 1 PM)
27 December 2019: Germany – USA (19:00 / 1 PM)
29 December 2019: USA – Russia (19:00 / 1 PM)
30 December 2019: USA – Czech Republic (19:00 / 1 PM)

Ladakh hosts World’s highest altitude women’s ice hockey tournament

By The Bridge Desk – The Bridge

The Ladakh Women Ice Hockey Foundation (LWIHF) organised its second yearly Ice Hockey tournament at Phobrang village in Changthang.

The Ladakh Women Ice Hockey Foundation (LWIHF) organised its second yearly Ice Hockey tournament in collaboration with Pangong Youth Cooperative Society for Environment and Care (PYCSEC) at Phobrang village in Changthang. The village lies at an elevation of 14,635 feet above sea level in Ladakh from 15th to 18th December 2019. 

LWIHF was formed by the female Ice hockey players of Ladakh in 2015 and has been engaged in various activities since then to promote Ice Hockey in the region and the country. It is the highest altitude game of ice hockey in the world. 

The ice hockey season in Ladakh lasts for roughly two-and-a-half months. In this period, different clubs and village associations organise winter camps and tournaments. But most of these tournaments are open only for the men teams and individuals. Keeping the scarcity of tournaments for women, LWIHF decided to organise a tournament specifically for the women teams in January 2019 together with Chuchot Sports and Welfare Association in Leh, where four teams participated.

Keeping the positive impact of the 1st tournament, LWIHF organised the 2nd tournament in which 6 teams participated, namely Lalok team, JKP team, Kargyam team, SECMOL team, YAGM team and SAVE Changthang team. A total of 85 girls participated in the tournament. The tournament was funded by the District Administration – District youth services and Sports, Leh under the Khelo India Scheme: Sports for Peace and development. Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) supported the tournament by providing dry ration for the players.

The final match was played between Lalok team and Kargyam team

The girls moved from Leh to the destination on 14 December and two buses were arranged, a community hall was arranged for the participants where the teams stayed together during the tournament period.

The final match was played between Lalok team and Kargyam team. The Lalok team emerged as the champions by scoring 6 goals and conceded none.

The Hockey Foundation earlier raised $30,000 for charity and donated the supplies used for the attempt to the Ladakh Winter Sports Club to help them finish the construction of their first full-sized ice hockey rink, helping to bring jobs and activities to the locals in that region of India.

College men’s hockey: UMD players recall being back in the USSR

Minnesota Duluth hockey coach Mike Sertich huddles with his players during a break in a game the Bulldogs played in December 1984 in the Soviet Union, becoming the first collegiate team in any sport to go behind the Iron Curtain.

By: Rick Weegman Pine Journal

Minnesota Duluth’s men’s hockey team concluded a historic trip behind the Iron Curtain 35 years ago
A strip search. Live bears on skates. Stolen towels. KGB officers knocking on hotel room doors. Brushing one’s teeth with vodka.

Oh yeah, a couple of hockey games, too.

Memories abound about the Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey team’s visit to the Soviet Union, which concluded 35 years ago today. That historic December 1984 visit to Moscow and Leningrad was the first time a collegiate team in any sport traveled behind the Iron Curtain.

“That 1984-85 team, I think, was the best team that ever played at UMD,” said All-American forward Bill Watson, who scored 210 career points in three seasons with the Bulldogs. “But that trip that we made was different. Nothing ever went smoothly on that trip.

“Once we got there, it was like going to a different world.”

Some of the memories from that trip remain hidden from public consumption.

“There were a lot of (memorable moments),” Jim Toninato, a UMD forward from 1982-86, said with a laugh. “But I’d say about 90 percent of them I can’t tell you.”

And despite the best efforts of those involved, televising the games live back to Duluth — the impetus for the trip in the first place — never happened.

Here’s a look back at that experience, from the sometimes fuzzy perspective of those who were there:

Plan takes shape

Bob Rich, owner of NBC affiliate KBJR-TV, first approached then-UMD athletic director Ralph Romano with the idea of playing in the Communist bloc.

After Romano died during the 1983-84 season, Rich, who had made two previous trips to the USSR, continued discussions with his replacement, Bruce McLeod, and with the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Sports Ministry in Moscow.

“He was always a giant promoter of Duluth,” said Jim Rich, Bob’s son and one half of the announcing team for UMD games on KBJR. “He started the Christmas City of the North Parade and was all about civic pride. One way to promote Duluth was to promote the university, so we started televising UMD games every Friday and Saturday.”

UMD played in its first NCAA championship game at the end of the 1983-84 season, losing to Bowling Green State in four overtimes, and would return to the Frozen Four after the 1984-85 season.

So Bob Rich pounced on an idea to capitalize on the increased interest in UMD hockey.

“He put together a package to bring fans and sponsors to Russia and came up with the idea to have these games there,” Jim Rich said. “It was his vision to give UMD as high of a profile as possible and he thought this was a good way to do it.”

KBJR paid all the expenses for sending UMD’s official party of 29 members — approximately $58,000 — in addition to paying for four satellite links and for an NBC director and producer to fly in from London.

It was the height of the Cold War between the United States and the USSR, just four years after the Americans’ “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviets at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., and the subsequent U.S. pullout from the Summer Games in Moscow.

In order to prepare them for their visit, UMD chemistry professor Ron Caple, who would serve as the team’s unofficial translator, held a couple classes to teach the basics of the Russians’ language and customs.

UMD played a series against Northeastern in Boston before departing for overseas. The Bulldogs lost 4-0 in the series finale.

“It was probably our worst game that we played all year,” assistant coach Jim Knapp said. “Everyone was thinking about going to the Soviet Union.”

The entourage, which included fans and parents of players, flew to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and then took a DC-10 overnight to Helsinki, Finland. By late that Sunday evening, everyone had checked into the Hotel Cosmos in Moscow.

Moscow memories

Moscow was an immediate culture shock.

“The people and the buildings, and what it was like living in that culture,” Bemidji-born Toninato said of the difference between Moscow and home. “For naive college kids, it was an incredible experience.”

Sumptuous breakfasts, lunches and dinners were provided and a strict schedule for sightseeing opportunities was adhered to.

“They showed us what they wanted to show us. Very, very structured,” Toninato said. “We did get out a few times and walk around the city a little bit and check out the culture.

“It seemed dark, like there wasn’t a lot of color. They had guards with machine guards on every corner, that was a little weird.”

Head coach Mike Sertich said the group was chaperoned closely throughout their stay in Moscow.

“There were armed service people all over the place,” Sertich recalled by phone Friday from a fish house on Lake of the Woods. “I remember being chastised by one of them because I was chewing tobacco and I spit. He came over and read me the riot act in Russian.”

Sertich didn’t get thrown in the gulag or threatened with a trip to Siberia, “but I probably got pretty close to it because I spit on the Motherland.”

The first day’s schedule included a tour of the famed Red Square.

“My roommate and I, (goaltender) Rick Kosti, both slept in and missed it.” said defenseman Norm Maciver, who scored 191 career points with the Bulldogs before playing 12 seasons in the NHL. “We were so jet-lagged that we missed the first day’s tour.”

When told of that, Sertich countered with a rebuttal: “They were not jet-lagged; they were other-lagged.”

Perhaps that had to do with the abundance of vodka in Moscow.

“It seemed like the only thing we had to drink was Pepsi or vodka. And it was warm Pepsi,” Maciver said.

Water, apparently, was a scarce commodity.

“We’d brush our teeth in vodka,” forward Skeeter Moore remembered. “Typically you don’t swallow your toothpaste, right? But we were college kids brushing our teeth with vodka so what the hell.”

Plans change

Day 2 of the trip began with a number of alterations to the schedule.

According to a diary kept by equipment manager Rick Menz, a 1 p.m. practice was canceled and then rescheduled for 4:30 only to be canceled again. A 9 p.m. game against Moskvich, a Russian auto factory-sponsored elite team, was changed to 4:30 p.m. against a Moscow Sports Institute team at a rink similar to West Duluth’s Peterson Arena, with no fan seating. UMD lost 8-5.

That was the game KBJR had planned to televise live back to Duluth.

“At the last minute the plug got pulled — literally,” said Jim Rich, who left Duluth in 1991 and is currently the sports director at Fox 9 in the Twin Cities.

“The night before the game we were at a dinner and somebody came up to my father and said they needed to speak,” Rich recalled. “They walked away and they told him that night that the game the next day was off and there would be no television.

“They negotiated through the night and told Coach Sertich what was going to happen. We ended up playing a different Soviet team in what was basically a practice rink. We filmed that with one camera and did the play-by-play with Steve Jezierski and myself.”

During UMD’s pregame warmups, Jezierski remembers being told in no uncertain terms to tell the team to leave the ice immediately.

“Jimmy and I were in the press box and (the Soviets) asked us to make an announcement over the PA system for UMD to get off the ice, that their time was up,” Jezierski said. “Both Jim and I looked at each other like, ‘I’m not telling Sertie that it’s time to get off the ice.’ But they were persistent.

“I don’t do very good dialects but I did my best Russian-English imitation and said, ‘Pleez-a ged-da off-a-da ice’ trying to make Sertie think it was them making the announcement and not me.”

KBJR still filmed the game with one camera in hopes of showing it on a delayed basis once back home, but for Rich and Jezierski the rest of the trip turned into a vacation.

“It was as if the rules changed when we got out there,” Jezierski said. “Basically we were tourists, there was nothing work-related whatsoever.”

‘Trouble finds trouble’

Though memories are a bit hazy and a need to protect the not-so-innocent still persists 35 years later, there’s little doubt the Bulldogs pushed the envelope in creating an international incident.

The first such scene came as the team was preparing to leave Moscow for a 70-minute Aeroflot flight to Leningrad.

Watson roomed with Jay Jackson, the Maroon Loon mascot, who stuffed towels into his luggage as souvenirs.

“He thought he was going to be funny and tried to sneak towels out of the hotel in Moscow,” Watson said. “They searched every one of our bags and I nearly lost my suitcase, which was so dear to me that I gave it the nickname of ‘Boxcar Willie.’ I was very angry with the Maroon Loon after that and I may have done things to his outfit that I can’t really speak about.”

Toilet paper and towels were treated like Faberge eggs.

“The two things they kept track of was toilet paper — that was more like newspaper-sandpaper — and the towels,” Moore related. “(Jackson) was my roommate in college and I remember him saying later, ‘I didn’t try to steal them, I just needed a couple extra and if someone else needed one I would help out.’ ”

Watson doesn’t buy that excuse to this day.

“They counted the potatoes they gave you, the bread they gave you. Of course they’re going to count the towels at this nice hotel,” he said. “We didn’t even get to the bus and they were on (Jackson) like white on rice. And I almost lost my legendary suitcase.”

That wasn’t the only trouble team members got into.

At the posh Moscow hotel, Watson received a call from AD McLeod to come down three floors to retrieve two teammates who had stumbled into his room after playing floor hockey in the hall. Watson wouldn’t reveal any names, but left a hint.

“All I can tell you there was a Hall of Famer and another one of my classmates who had a wonderful time playing floor hockey in the hallway,” he chuckled.

Brett Hull, whose father, Bobby, was highly revered by the Soviets, is the only member of that UMD team to later earn a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Moore was at the heart of another controversy, too.

The Duluthian brought along a number of items such as jeans, gum and cassette tapes in order to trade with the locals. Moore schemed to put a UMD jersey on one of the traders to allow him access to the hotel in Moscow.

“I tried to get to be buddy-buddy with some of the Russians and snuck them in,” Moore acknowledged. “I was trying to do some trading of some of our stuff that we brought over.”

That led to supposed KGB guards knocking on the door and removing the outsiders.

When asked if it was his room that the KGB approached, Watson, tongue firmly planted in cheek, denied any knowledge.

“I still think that state departments or governments of countries can come back at you for things like that,” he said. “I don’t have any recollections of that. Zero.”

Sertich says he took his chaperoning responsibilities seriously, but there was only so much oversight he could do in a foreign setting.

“Some of those guys got into it pretty good,” he said. “Nobody got arrested but I don’t know if they would have known the difference. Kids have a funny way of finding their way where they shouldn’t be. Kids are kids, it doesn’t matter if they are from Moscow or Duluth. Trouble finds trouble sometimes.”

Next stop: Leningrad

The Bulldogs spent their third day in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, a more westernized city of 4.9 million located between Estonia and Finland on the Baltic Sea coast.

The team attended the Moscow Circus on Ice, where the star attraction was live bears on skates, and later saw a ballet and toured the Winter Palace Museum, where paintings of Rembrandt, Picasso and many others were housed.

“It was quite a bonding experience for all the guys, being over in a foreign country and having to be together,” Toninato said.

But again, things did not go as planned with UMD’s scheduled game. The Bulldogs were supposed to play a Red Army junior team, but the rag-tag outfit that took the ice did not resemble the squad UMD had signed up to play. The Bulldogs won 9-0, according to Menz’s diary entry.

“It seemed like we were playing the equivalent of a beer-league team,” said Maciver, who is in his eighth season as a Chicago Blackhawks assistant general manager. “These guys had different colored helmets on and their sticks looked like they had been used for a year.”

The rink itself was substandard as well. Plexiglas was replaced by a barb-wire mesh that surrounded the boards.

In between periods, UMD was served tea in a scene that definitely was not standard at the DECC.

“We didn’t have any locker rooms and we’d sit outside the rink and these older ladies would come and pour coffee or tea between periods for us,” Moore said. “That was an eye-opener, just bizarre to have them pouring tea.”

At least it wasn’t vodka.

That beverage may have played a role, however, during other incidents in Leningrad.

“Coach Sertich was a little more relaxed than he normally was (in Leningrad) and allowed us to enjoy ourselves,” Watson explained.

Jezierski recalls one potential problem being avoided at a bar in the city.

“It was filled with prostitutes,” he said. “I remember (Knapp) had to rescue backup goalie Ben Duffy because he got backed into a corner with three or four of them. Leningrad was completely different than Moscow.”

Sertich said a couple players went missing one night in Leningrad making deals with black marketeers. Moore, one of those involved, ended up meeting up with traders at an off-limits house.

“I was always trying to get one of those Russian fur hats, and I finally got one,” Moore said. “I remember walking out of there thinking, ‘Maybe this isn’t so smart.’ ”

Sertich later found out about the incident.

“I know Skeeter got to some places that he shouldn’t have been,” the coach said.

Luckily, no players caused an international embarrassment.

“One of the guys almost did, but you can’t print that one,” Maciver said. “Those couple of days, the guys had a little bit of fun. Perhaps too much fun.”

Departure difficulties

The team left Leningrad bound for Helsinki one week after first departing Boston.

Surprise, surprise, all did not go smoothly.

Going through customs at the airport was an ordeal, especially for the U.S. natives, as Soviet officials confiscated whatever they wanted.

“As a Canadian, I flew through customs,” said Watson, a Manitoba native. “It was the Americans who took about 4-1/2 hours to get through customs. I’ll never forget that, it was hilarious.”

Knapp, the team’s assistant, wasn’t laughing.

“They took me in the back room and they took my suitcase apart,” he recalled. “They cut the seams of my suitcase and literally strip-searched me. I’m going, ‘What is going on?’ What (Sertich) found out is that it is normal practice on the Soviet team that the assistant coaches are KGB agents.”

Sertich said the customs officials were in for a hearty laugh if they thought Knapp was an undercover agent.

“The Russian hockey teams when they would come over to North America, the assistant coaches were KGB so they went through (Knapp) pretty good,” Sertich said. “It was pretty humorous actually. We gave him a ton of BS. If anybody looked non-CIA, it was Jim Knapp.”

Included among the confiscations was approximately half of the videotape shot of UMD’s first game, meaning KBJR needed to improvise what it aired when everyone returned.

“When we were leaving the country through outbound customs, they kept half the tapes because they wanted to know what was on them,” Jim Rich said. “They took half the game and said they would send it to us. We’re still waiting for them to mail us that tape.”

Once through customs, the UMD entourage flew Finn Air to Helsinki and then back across the Atlantic to New York via Montreal.

The trip ended with a charter flight to Duluth, arriving before 11 p.m., leaving players time to wear their newly acquired babushka hats into the Warehouse bar in Canal Park.

No word on whether vodka was on the menu that night.

Minnesota Duluth players face off against a team from the Soviet Union during the team’s trip to Moscow and Leningrad in December 1984.

Андрея Котцева: “Мы живем в мечтах о профессиональном хоккее”

By Vitaly Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Защитник женской сборной Болгарии Андрея Котцева после завершившегося WCH III Woman любезно пообщалась со мной и рассказала о себе, о планах и о хоккее в Болгарии.

Я начала играть в хоккей в 2012 году и сейчас я игрок национальной сборной, второй год ношу нашивку альтернативного капитана. Я начала увлекаться хоккеем в 15 лет и это произошло случайно, поскольку хоккей в нашей стране не особо популярен. Мой школьный друг рассказал мне об игре и я решила попробовать. Кстати, родители были против, чтобы я начала играть в хоккей, но я им сказала, что в Болгарии не такой хоккей, который показывают по ТВ, то есть грубый, жесткий и так далее. Родители мне поверили и приняли факт, что я стала играть. Как только я встала на коньки и взяла клюшку, я поняла, что это любовь с первого взгляда. Я занималась многими видами спорта, но никогда не чувствовала то, что чувствовала, занимаясь хоккеем. Когда ты в хоккее, ты становишься частью большой семьи с одной страстью – хоккей.

Как развивалась ваша карьера?

начала тренироваться в женской команде и с мужской командой “Irbis Skate”. Тренера команды взяли меня в сборную, но на первый год я играла не особо хорошо в клубе. Однако я получила огромный опыт и эмоциональное возбуждение, которое никогда не испытывала. Я практически не выходила на лед, но я все равно чувствовала себя частью команды и я сказала себе: “В следующем году я буду играть постоянно! Я хочу понять то чувство, когда ты выходишь на лед в джерси сборной!”.

И сразу после возвращения я продолжила усиленно тренироваться, я практически спала с клюшкой в руках. Я достигла успеха на тренировках и уже в 2014 году сборная поехала в Мексику, где я сыграла свой первый полноценный турнир. Моему счастью не было предела. Я была счастлива принести пользу команде не только через скамейку, но и пользу в игре. С тех пор я играла лучше и лучше.

Как вас занесло в Испанию?

Это было нужно для моей карьеры. Я просила у партнеров по команде и своих знакомых из команды Гонконга как-то помочь мне с выбором страны и команды. Они мне все рассказали и дали мне контакты людей из Мадрида, которые работают в “Махадаонде” и в “Вальдеморо” . Мне осталось лишь выбрать одну из команд и я выбрала “Вальдеморо”. Поехала только в этом году. Там условия были получше, поэтому и выбрала этот клуб. Вальдеморо – это пригород Мадрида. Перед первой игрой я очень нервничала, но очень ждала этого матча. Новая страна, новая команда, другие люди, но та же любовь к хоккею и страсть!

ХК «Voldemoro»

В женских лигах Болгарии и Испании вам платили?

Нет, зарплату нам не платили. Федерация оплачивала лишь аренду льда на время игр, а также работу судей. Но дорогу и экипировку оплачивали сами.

Расскажите о своих планах. Вы продолжите играть в хоккей?

 Я буду играть до тех пор, пока могу ходить. Мне не важна лига, не важно место. Я хочу играть. Каждый раз, когда я участвую в турнирах за сборную, я живу мечтой стать профессиональной хоккеисткой. Мы на турнирах живем жизнь профессиональных хоккеистов — тренировки, разбор игры, сама игра. А по возвращению домой мы становимся обычными людьми — мы работаем, учимся, в общем, возвращаемся в реальную жизнь, а не в мечту.Каждый раз после последней игры мы собираемся в раздевалке и переживаем тот момент, что до следующего турнира еще целый год и что лишь через год мы будем жить неделю той жизнью, которой мечтаем жить постоянно.

Развивается ли женский хоккей в Болгарии?

 Да, но очень медленно. В Болгарии много девочек и женщин любят хоккей, но мы все равно далеки от того, чтобы в Болгарии было несколько женских команд. Федерация не особо развивает хоккей в стране, пытаемся развивать его мы. Развивать в плане рекламы.

Как велась подготовка к турниру к WCH III Woman?

Как обычно, как каждый год. Мы собираемся и для начала пытаемся понять в каких мы кондициях, поскольку много девчонок не играют практически весь год и нам нужно понять как нам надо готовиться. Мне бы хотелось изменить это, хотелось бы, чтобы у нас были игры между чемпионатом мира, но бюджет не позволяет проводить игры часто, а про игры заграницей я вообще молчу.

Женская сборная Венгрии

Расскажите о впечатлениях о WCH III и о соперниках.

Это был самый интересный турнир из всех, в которых я участвовала. До последнего тура не было понятно кто же победит. Это ведь круто! В этом году у нас было две новых сборных, Литва и Румыния. Литва вообще дебютировала в хоккее, а Румыния пришла из второго дивизиона. Не было понятно что ожидать от них. От этого и был огромный интерес. Бельгия в этом году была сильнее, чем в прошлом. Я поняла это как только мы сыграли с ними несколько первых минут в первом туре. (В том матче Болгария проиграла 4-2). Что касается нас, то в этом году я сама удивилась как мы сыграли. Обычно мы с Гонконгом играем за последние места, а сейчас сыграли как никогда и даже боролись за медали. Я горжусь своей командой!

Introducing Finland

Finland’s Rasmus Kupari celebrates after scoring on Switzerland in the semi-finals of last year’s IIHF World Junior Championship

By Organizing Committee –

The Finns will come to the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic as the defending champions after last year’s triumph in Canada. Finland has been the most successful team in the U20 competition in recent years with three gold medals in the last six years. Can they repeat on Trinec and Ostrava ice?

Ambassador’s take: Petr Hubacek

“The strengths of the Finnish junior team are speed, commitment, dynamics, great skating and, especially, the Finnish work ethic and team cohesion,” said Petr Hubacek. The 44-year-old former forward, who spent a total of five seasons with JYP Jyvaskyla where he won a Finnish Liiga title in 2012, will be the ambassador of the Finnish team at this World Junior Championship.
In the hockey world, the Finns are known above all for their hard work and team cohesion. “It was exactly these aspects, which I mentioned, on which the Finnish national men’s team at this year’s World Championship in Slovakia was built. That’s how they had success,” said Hubacek.

Historic World Junior Championship results

Finland has played continuously at the top division of the World Junior Championships since 1977. The Finns have been the third-most successful team at the event with five gold medals. Their first title came in Czechoslovakia in 1987 – however, their first-place finish that year was significantly affected by the bench-clearing brawl between Canada and the USSR, which resulted in the disqualification of both teams.
How does it feel to win the World Junior Championship at home? Ask the Finns, who have triumphed twice in Helsinki in 1998 and 2016. The gold medal captured last year in Vancouver was Finland’s third in the last six years – more than any other country in that time.

Last year

The Finns are the reigning World Junior Champions, capturing the title with a victory last January at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Jussi Ahokas’s team went through the group stage with a 2-2 record to place third, forcing them to meet host Canada in the quarter-finals. On the verge of being eliminated, Aleksi Heponiemi tied the game in the last minute of the third period and Toni Utunen scored in overtime to send the Finns to the semis.
The youngsters from the Land of a Thousand Lakes then easily handled Switzerland to set up a match-up against the USA with the title on the line. Dramatically, Kaapo Kakko scored the winning goal with 1:26 remaining to secure a 3-2 win for the Finns. Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was a big reason for Finland’s victory, and he was named to the tournament all-star team.

Team stars

When talking about junior-aged Finnish hockey players, there’s only one place to start. “Every fan knows one name – Kaapo Kakko – thanks to the World Championship in Slovakia. The kid scored 22 goals in the Finnish league last season – the overwhelming majority of them when he was still just 17,” Petr Hubacek said about the current New York Rangers right winger. And because he’s now in the NHL, it remains to be seen whether or not Kakko will play at this year’s World Juniors.
As for other stars of the Finnish team, Hubacek mentioned Ville Heinola, who has already signed a professional contract with the Winnipeg Jets. He called the 18-year-old returnee: “A great, playmaking defenceman who likes to handle the puck.” Last year in Canada, Heinola contributed to his team’s title with one goal and one assist. At the upcoming tournament, he should be given a leadership role from coach Raimo Helminen.
The ambassador of the Finnish team also encourages fans to follow Rasmus Kupari, a draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings who is currently gaining experience in the AHL. “Another Karpat Oulu product,” Hubacek said of the creative centre. “He is said to be a combination of Sebastian Aho and Jesse Puljujarvi.”
The fourth name mentioned by Hubacek is Anttoni Honka, who plays in the Liiga for JYP Jyvaskyla, where Hubacek spent many years. A creative defenceman and excellent skater, Honka is now in his third season in Finland’s highest league and is a core member of JYP’s defence. “He’s an offensive d-man who likes to make plays and handle the puck,” the Finnish ambassador added.
But while he extols the virtues of so many potential members of the team, Hubacek reminds us that the Finns are firm believers in playing a team game. “I think the Finns generally produce a lot of good hockey players and it really pays to come and see them,” he says. “But not only the individual players, rather the whole team.”


The coach of the team is Finnish hockey legend Raimo Helminen. The 55-year-old was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2012 and played 331 games for the Finnish national team between 1983 and 2002. He took part in six Olympic Games and 11 World Championships and holds the record for the most games played at the international level. Along with fellow Finn Teemu Selänne, he has played in the highest number of Olympic tournaments.
“It’s a great opportunity. It’s great to work with young players. In this age category, hockey is very fast and fresh. I am honoured to be part of this journey,” Helminen said in January about his new position. He will be assisted by Tommi Miettinen, Erik Hamalainen, Ari Moisanen and Jukka Varmanen.

Team schedule (local time CET)

26 December 2019: Sweden – Finland (19:00)  
28 December 2019: Finland – Slovakia (15:00)  
29 December 2019: Kazakhstan – Finland (15:00)  
31 December 2019: Finland – Switzerland (19:00)

Magyars on the march

The Hungarian players celebrate after their deciding victory on Day 4 against France

By Andy Potts –

Hungary’s juniors roared into U20 World Championship Division IA for next season with a perfect performance at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group B event in Ukraine. The Hungarians won all five games, with an aggregate score of 29-16, to top the group ahead of France. The host nation took bronze ahead of Poland following a 7-3 win over Estonia in the last game of the group. Italy finished bottom of the pile and is relegated to the Division IIA.

The key game arrived on Tuesday noon in Kyiv when Hungary took on France. The two nations were already out in front by that stage with a 3-0 record and both knew that victory in regulation would secure top spot. A month earlier, the teams played a warm-up game where Hungary opened a 4-0 lead but had to hold on as France battled back before losing 3-4, and the action in Kyiv followed a similar pattern.

This time, the Magyars scored twice in the opening frame with Levente Keresztes and Marcell Revesz on target in the first 10 minutes. Zsombor Dozci extended the lead in the second period, but France once again began a fightback. Quentin Tomasino pulled one back late in the middle session and “Les Bleuets” moved ahead on the shot count in the third but could only find one more goal through Samuel Rousseau. Once again, Hungary prevailed by a narrow margin, and this time it was enough to clinch top spot and a return to Division IA after a two-year absence.

Team head coach Marton Vas, whose international playing career came to an end after Hungary’s top-level 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship adventure, was full of praise for his players’ attitude and performance.

“The guys were disciplined, they all worked hard,” he said. “The team did not throw the puck away, they played with maturity and displayed everything good about Hungarian hockey.

“We’ve done the hard work and it feels good to get the results of that here.”

Hungary’s leading scorer was 19-year-old Natan Vertes, who had 10 (6+4) points for the tournament. He was back for his second U20s campaign, having collected three assists in last season’s competition. Fully fit once again after missing much of the previous campaign with a broken collar bone, he’s also doing well in the NAHL with 21 (14+7) points in 23 games for the Aberdeen Wings. Keresztes and Revesz also made big contributions, finishing with nine points apiece. Keresztes is just 17 and plays his club hockey for Twin City Thunder in the NCDC after emerging through the ranks at MAC Budapest. Revesz, 19, has played the bulk of his career to date in Switzerland and made his senior debut last season with the GCK Lions in the second-tier Swiss League. This year was his fourth – and most productive – U20 World Championship appearance.

For France, a disappointing 2019 continues. The juniors came to Ukraine hoping for an immediate return to Division IA after relegation last season. Instead, Pierre Pousse’s team had to settle for silver after defeating Poland in its final game of the tournament. This is the first time in 2008 that Hungary’s U20s have finished ahead of their French counterparts.

The Poles took bronze and also had the tournaments leading scorers. Jakub Lewandowski topped the charts with 13 (5+8) points ahead of his team-mate Kamil Walega (6+5=11). Lewandowski, 19, is playing his first season in North America with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL after learning the game at hometown team Sokoly Torun. Walega is already mixing it with the men in the Polish championship, where he has 11 (4+7) points from six games for GKS Jastrzebie.

Руслан Черных: «Узнал о разрыве контракта в Фейсбуке

Руслан в Нидерландах, команда «Ред Иглз»

Автор — Виталий Нестеров, National teams of Ice Hockey

Руслан Черных, литовский хоккеист, родившийся в Москве, дал большое интервью для NToIH и рассказал о себе, о своей карьере и о брате-футболисте.

Здравствуй, Руслан. Для начала уточним момент с литовским паспортом. Вы чистокровный россиянин?

Здравствуй. Когда я был маленький, моя мама развелась с отцом и мы переехали в Литву к бабушке с дедушкой. Начал играть хоккей именно в Литве в 2010, а паспорта мы получили, потому что мой брат на тот момент будучи футболистом хотел играть за сборную. Сейчас он играет в аренде в “Оренбурге”, а принадлежит московскому “Динамо”. (Старший брат Руслана, Федор Черных, профессиональный футболист, капитан сборной Литвы, прим.ред)

Хорошо. Ты переехал в Литву, начал играть на юношеском уровне. Как получилось уехать в США?

На тот момент у меня плохо получалось в Литве, не было практики. В США пригласили улучшить игру и набраться опыта. Габариты мои очень понравились. Я долго не думал и улетел, потому что в Литве хоккей не на серьезном уровне. Улетел в 2014 году.

О хоккее в Литве еще вернемся. Вообще, вопрос “как ты оказался в таком-то месте?” у меня будет возникать часто, ибо ты играл во многих странах. За тот год в США ты сменил много команд. Есть причина какая-то? (За год, проведенном в США, Руслан сменил 4 команды, прим.ред)

До 17-18 лет, честно говоря, был очень слаб. Я в хоккей играть начал в 13 лет и мне тяжеловато было. Я пытался каждый год поднимать планку, знал что опыта не хватало и нужно было цепляться за то, что мне давали. За юниорскую сборную не выступал в том возрасте именно из-за нехватки опыта и игровой практики.

Так, еще раз про США. Почему поменял много команд?

Первая команда (Lake Tahoe Blue, прим.ред.) была полностью укомплектована, да и я на тот момент был недостаточно опытный, чтобы получать игровое время. Ехал туда, где я играл, потому-что важно было получить игровое время и опыт.

А как вообще так получилось, что ты ушел в хоккей, да еще и в позднем возрасте, а брат ушел в футбол?

Брат с малых лет обожал футбол, а я до 13 лет не мог найти своё. Занимался многими видами спорта: бокс, баскетбол, плавание. Но однажды мама отдала меня в хоккей и я очень благодарен за это.

И поэтому после всего уехал в Чехию в какую-то дьяволом забытую лигу?

Мне нужен был шаг вперед в мужской хоккей. В “Трутнове” тренировки были на уровне, достаточно сильные. На тот момент со мной был в команде хоккеист уровня ВХЛ. Фамилию сейчас уже не вспомню. Но я в команде опять же надолго не задержался

Кстати в той лиге, где ты играл, сейчас делает вид, что играет, китайская команда “Чайна Дрэгонс”. Ее создали для подготовки к Олимпиаде.

Читал по этому поводу. Слышал даже, что в Китае целая лига есть.

– Лига в Китае как бы есть, но сейчас весь упор делается на КХЛ, ВХЛ, МХЛ и вот на третью чешскую лигу. Ну а дальше самое интересное – Испания.Команда, в которой ты играл, “Миленио”, уже не существует. Ты играл там в высшей лиге?

Да, играл в высшей лиге. Честно говоря, смешная ситуация была в Испании. Команда слабая была даже для высшей Испанской лиги. Но жаловаться не буду, бывало играл смены по 3 минуты. Практики хватало.

Значит ты пересекался на льду с другим российским хоккеистом. Павел Иванов из “Пучсерды” всю жизнь играет там.

О, я его помню. Помню был момент – у борта мы на друг друга на русском начали обзываться и потом резко поняли, что оба русские и посмеялись

В Чехии и Испании платили?

Да, немного, правда. Больше получал в Испании. Сумму не буду говорить, не люблю такую тему.

Павлу повезло меньше. Он в Испании не считается легионером и играет исключительно ради удовольствия. Дальше у вас были Нидерланды. Тебя туда позвали?

После игр со сборной на кубке Балтики у меня стоял выбор между Литвой и Голландией – поступило предложение. Зная, что уровень в Голландии выше, чем в Испании или в Литве, я долго не думал и уехал в Нидерланды в “Red Eagles”

– Как обстояли дела в Нидерландах? В плане уровня хоккея, тренировок, посещения матчей болельщиками.

В Нидерландах понравилось. Уровень удивил, легионеры хорошие. Тренировки относительно хорошего уровня так же. Болельщики ходят и смотрят хоккей, особенно топ-команды собирали по 2.000 людей. Для такой лиги, я думаю, это хорошо.

Теперь традиционный вопрос про переезд в Британию. Тоже поступило предложение?

Да, в “Милтон Кейнс” нужен был защитник. На тот момент в Англии играли ребята из сборной и они мне рассказали, что там уровень хоккея такой же, как в Нидерландах, и в клубе мне предложили хорошие условия. Правда, там сразу в “Милтоне” не срослось, со мной поступили там по-свински.

Что произошло?

Я приехал из Литвы прям в ледовый, увидел тренера, а он даже познакомиться не дал с командой толком. Сказал: «Вон раздевалка, кидай сумку и переодевайся». За полтора месяца, проведенные там, даже со мной не говорил, не разговаривал про то, в каком звене он меня видит, что от меня требует и так далее. И после матча одного матча в Лондоне на следующее утро увидел на Фейсбуке информацию, что со мной разорвали контракт, ничего не сказав в лицо. Я считаю это очень трусливый поступок.

Это как-то прокомментировали в клубе?

Сказали, что я не подхожу. Хотя сам этот тренер говорил менеджерам команды, что я хорош и меня нужно подписывать. Странная ситуация, в общем. Да и атмосфера там не понравилась, если честно.

После “Милтона” ты переехал в Ноттингем. Там было лучше?

Было все хорошо, все относились ко мне с пониманием и уважением. На тот момент мне быстро нужна была команда посреди сезона и “Ноттингем” предложил просмотр, где после первой тренеровки меня сразу взяли. Но, увы, в том клубе я заметил, что перестал расти как хоккеист и поэтому перешел в более серьезную команду – в “Оксфорд”.

Руслан в «Ноттингеме»

Летом 2019 ты играл в Новой Зеландии. Зачем туда уехал?

Новая Зеландия – это только летний вариант был. Я знал, что отдых у хоккеистов долгий в Англии, а я нехотел терять форму и работал над своими слабостями в игре, поэтому уехал туда. Лига слабовата, но физически сильная и быстрая. Много легионеров есть из топовых лиг, которые едут посмотреть страну и поддержать форму. Знаю, что в одной команде был игрок с драфта в НХЛ, а у нас был защитник и вратарь со сборной Англии. А сами они играют в Элитной Лиге Британии.

Неделю назад ты опять сменил команду. Теперь ты в Уэльсе, в клубе “Cardiff Fire”. Уже тренировался там, познакомился с командой?

Я там не только познакомился и тренировался, но и уже провел несколько игр, и в первой же игре оформил ассист. В команде чувствую себя хорошо. Нужно было найти свое место и, кажется, я нашел его.

Ты перед переездом в Уэльс узнавал о команде, о стране, о лиге? Что тебе рассказывали?

Узнавал немного о команде. Важно было знать об их интересах, возможности и тд. Насчет страны ничего не знал, я не боюсь новых местоположений и вызовов

Как я понял, ты уже за сборную играл в товарищеских играх. А на официальных соревнованиях еще нет?

Да, официального дебюта не было еще. У нас вообще отбор игроков не такой уж и сильный, хоть и много игроков с опытом игры в топ-лигах есть. В сборной у нас защитник из КХЛ (Нериюс Алишаушкас, “Динамо” Рига), вратарь из топ-лиги Швеции (Мантас Армалис, “Шелефтео”) и так далее.

Летом я был в Беларуси на их местном кубке и там мне удалось пообщаться немножко с литовцем Угнюсом Чижасом. Наверняка, ты его знаешь и играл с ним.

Да, конечно, знаю его с малых лет ещё. Хоккейный мир тесен, тем более литовский.

Он рассказал, что хоккей в Литве любят, но негде играть. Очень мало детских школ, мало ледовых дворцов. Все настолько плохо?

Да. Есть где играть до 16-17 лет. Юношеские команды выстапают в чемпионатах Латвии или Беларуси. Были две команды МХЛ-Б, но они провалились. Сейчас если хочешь играть в хоккей серьезно, то нужно уезажть, пока молодой. Литовский хоккей, конечно, не самый слабый по уровню, но нету финансирования. Его гораздо больше в той же Испании.

С учетом того, что Павел рассказал о финансировании в испанском хоккее, не могу представить какие гроши выделяют в Литве на местный хоккей…

Я знаю, что белорусские хоккеисты приезжают играть в литовские клубы бесплатно. Лишь некоторые получают по 300-400 евро в месяц. У нас даже там американцы играют. Думаю, что все это из-за выхода в Европу.

Вот тебе и уровень хоккея, сами американцы приезжают. С тобой связывались из Литвы? Когда уже дебютируешь на ЧМ?

Связывался менеджер сборной , когда был Кубок Балтики в Эстонии, примерно два месяца назд. Но я тогда получил травму и толком не восстановился и не вернулся в прежний уровень. Учитывая обстоятельства, отыграл неплохо. Насчет ЧМ будет видно. Может, позовут на предсезонку, а может нет, Им решать. А я и так рад, что выступал за сборную уже 3 раза в кубке Балтики. Я единственный игрок в сборной, который не выступал за U18 или U20. Честно говоря, только недавно начал находить свою игру, показывать уровень и пользоваться своими преимуществами. Но я начал играть в нормальный хоккей в 18-19 лет. Литовскую вторую лигу даже не считайте – это любители. Ночная Хоккейная Лига всем бы накидала там по 15 голов

Руслан на Балтийском кубке в 2017 году

Получается, что ты из 8 лет в хоккее только 5 на более-менее профессиональном. А были ли предложения из Беларуси или России?

Да, у меня была возможность поехать в “Могилев” на просмотр, но я выбрал Нидерланды, отказав и “Могилеву” и не вернувшись в Литву. На тот момент в “Могилеве” условия были печальные. Не знаю как сейчас.

По последним данным, собранным мной летом, там и сейчас не особо.

Мне нравится играть в Европе. Я играю там всю карьеру, ко всему привык. И с английским у меня все в порядке. Я привык к уровню жизни в Европе. А вот брат 5 лет в “Могилеве” играл. Он большой молодец, живой пример для меня. Даже немного как отец мне. Мама ведь нас одна растила. В городе Федю все любили, и в Новополоцке тоже, когда за “Нафтан” выступал.

Мне кажется, что если ты сыграешь на ЧМ и покажешь прекрасный хоккей, то тебе поступит предложение от хорошего клуба.

Если честно, то с тем же ЧМ, сборной…когда я был младше и только начинал играть в Литве, мне все тренера говорили, что в сборную не позовут, поскольку в 18-19 лет хоккеист уже должен быть опытным, что-то уметь. А я играл только в любительских лигах. Но на данный момент я доволен тем, что есть. Я работаю над собой. А вообще пару недель назад мне поступило предложение из Франции. Клуб называть не буду, скажу лишь то, что это клуб из Первого дивизиона. То есть, не Магнус-лига, а дивизион ниже. Но я им сказал, что меня все устраивает в Британии и отказал им

Сборная Литвы на кубке Балтики, 2019 год

Ты во время карьеры подрабатывал где-нибудь?

Была смешная ситуация. Когда в Нидерландах играл, жил в отеле. Я был единственным спортсменом. Остальные были рабочими на фабриках и стройках. И когда кто-то болел, то звонили мне, немного подрабатывал за них.

А в остальных странах жил в отелях? Жил за свой счет или клуб оплачивал?

В Испании была квартира в центре города, все оплачивали. В Новой Зеландии вообще целый дом дали. Мне повезло со всем этим. А сейчас я живу в Англии, катаюсь на тренировки в Уэльс. Сейчас решаем вопрос с постоянным жильем.

Есть агент, который всем этим занимается?

Вообще раньше были агенты, но когда ты играешь в низших лигах, на тебя особого интереса нет. Сейчас агента нет.

Были ли какие-то минусы во время выступлений за разные команды?

Особых проблем не помню. Я простой парень, не жалуюсь. Разве что в Чехии в городе вообще ничего не было. Даже сходить в кафешку поесть было большой проблемой.

Ты в Британии живешь больше года. Насколько там кайфанули от того, что сборная Великобритании осталась в элите ЧМ?

Вся Британия гудела, был большой праздник.

Задержись в Британии, получишь британское подданство и в сборную.

Не хочу. Литва – мой дом с малых лет, я там вырос и обязан ей. Никогда не буду выступать за другую сборную.

А российский паспорт у тебя есть?

Нет, паспорта РФ уже нет, потому что на тот момент, когда мы меняли паспорта, не получалось оставить два паспорта. Пришлось выбирать литовский. Брат очень хотел играть за сборную Литвы и уговорил маму принять решение выдать нам литовские паспорта. А теперь брат – капитан сборной и один из лучших ее игроков.

Если не считать США, в какой стране, где ты играл, хоккей любят больше всего?

Очень любят в Великобритании и Нидерландах. Та же Новая Зеландия, которая последняя в списках по уровню – собирали маленькие стадионы и забивали полностью по 500-600 человек. Вообще, в тех городах, где нечего делать, то трибуны сами заполняются. Единственное развлечение для жителей.

Матчи NIHL (National Ice Hockey League, лига, где играет Руслан, прим.ред.) транслируются по ТВ? Нам это важно, потому что иногда мы в группу кидаем ссылки на трансляции матчей разных лиг. А теперь будем пристально и за вами следить.

Где раньше играл, в Зеландии показывали по ТВ. В Нидерландах и Испании показывают по интернету. А про матчи моей нынешней лиги я обязательно уточню у клуба.

Есть ли интересный факт о лиге?

В лиге есть такое правило: максимум два легионера на команду и лишь один легионер в одном звене. Если оба легионера выйдут на лед, то это две минуты.

А каким жестом арбитр показывает такое удаление?

Еще не видел, не знаю. В клубе я единственный легионер, нам такие удаления не светят. У нас в команде есть латыш, ему 17 лет, но по тем же правилам Лиги, если хоккеист некоторое время выступал за юниорские команды, то он не считается легионером. Вот такая вот лига интересная.

Ты в курсе, что на страже ворот вашего следующего соперника – Петр Чех? (21 декабря “Fire” сыграет с “Guilford”, который несколько месяцев назад подписал Петра Чеха, прим.ред.)

На самом деле у нас система запутанная. Насколько я знаю, Петр Чех играет в их фарм-клубе. Объясню. Вот мы, “Cardiff Fire”, являемся фарм-клубом “Cardiff Devils”, клуба элитного дивизиона. В свою очередь, у нас есть свой фарм клуб “Cardiff Fire 2”. И вот наш фарм-клуб играет в лиге ниже вместе с клубом Петра Чеха.

И все же, если Петр Чех выйдет на лед против вас, возьми автограф.

Я не думаю, что он будет играть против нас. Лига пониже нас – даже не любительская. Она полу-любительская. Это у нас еще более-менее есть профессионалы.

Теперь поговорим о личностях. Каспарайтис – икона Литвы?

Да, но вместе с Зубрусом.

А для тебя, наверное, еще и Овечкин?

Саша – мой кумир. Я вон недавно во сне видел, как мы с ним познакомились.

У меня такое чувство, что кроме как в Электренае, литовские хоккеисты не рождаются.

Так оно и есть. “Энергия” – топ-клуб Литвы, они всегда выступали в чемпионатах Латвии и Высшей Лиге Беларуси. У них только в этом сезоне проблема с дворцом и они не заявились на сезон. А так постоянно играли в двух лигах – литовской и белоруской. Литовскую лигу они брали на раз-два, а вот настоящая борьба была в Беларуси. Всего было около 70 игр.

Вы не понаслышке знаете, что такое хоккей в нехоккейных странах. Мы активно следим за одной хоккейной командой из Румынии, называется “Спортул”. Знаменита тем, что за последние 6 лет она выиграла лишь дважды (в марте 2019 года). Доследили до того, что клуб о нас узнал и мы стали неким фан-клубом команды в России. Туда очень нужны хорошие игроки. Поедешь?

Я не скажу, что я хороший игрок (смеется). Кстати, в Румынию уехать тоже был вариант. Не помню, правда, что за клуб.

Видишь себя профессиональным хоккеистом?

На самом деле я, как и брат, реалист. Я понимаю, что пришел в хоккей поздно и начал играть на уровне только в 18 лет. Я прекрасно понимаю, что в топ-лигах выступать не буду. Но я рад, что играю там, где играю сейчас. Рад, как складывается моя карьера.

Спасибо за столь обширное интервью! Мы обязательно будем следить за тобой и твоей новой командой!

Swedes, Swiss win tournaments

Dennis Rasmussen (right) scored two goals at the last World Championship and now two goals in Sweden’s Channel One Cup triumph

By Andy Potts –

Sweden, beaten in its first three games under new head coach Johan Garpenlov, hit back hard in Russia to win the Channel One Cup. Tre Kronor defeated the host nation and the Czechs, coming out on top in the latest stage of the Euro Hockey Tour despite a painful 1-5 defeat against Finland in the middle game of its three.

The Finland game was also notable for Frans Tuohimaa’s empty-net goal. There’s nothing very unusual about a shot from beyond the red line going into an unguarded net, but Tuohimaa is a goalie. Goaltenders rarely turn goalgetters, but this was a memorable exception.

However, Garpenlov’s team was the success of the tournament – and the head coach had every cause for relief as it bounced back from a dismal display in the Karjala Tournament last month.

“It feels really good,” the head coach said. “I’m happy for the guys, they put so much work into this.”

Sweden began with a statement of intent in its first game in Moscow, defeating Russia 4-3 despite long spells under pressure against the tournament host. The Red Machine topped the shot count 46-19, but never really recovered from going 0-2 down in the first period.

“We had a good first period and got some goals,” Garpenlov added in a TV interview after the game. “We took a hold of the game, which it felt like we never did in the last tournament. We talked about how we wanted to do that here and we went out to get a rapid return.”

Russia came second in the tournament and put on a grandiose spectacle in Sunday’s game against Finland. But, despite winning 2-0 in front of 67,877 fans at St. Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena in a Winter Classic, there were still questions about Alexei Kudashov’s team after the competition. The Russian media raised concerns about the team’s defensive frailties after the 3-4 loss against Sweden was following by a 3-3 tie against the Czechs. Russia won that in a shootout and tightened up its game to shut out the Finns, only to face renewed criticism for boring hockey that failed to excite the big crowd.

Kudashov, meanwhile, pointed out that games against Finland are traditionally low-scoring affairs. “It was a tough, tight game,” he said. “Against Finland it doesn’t happen any other way. How often have you seen the Finns allow opponents to produce bright, attacking hockey? They have a disciplined team that is strong on defence, especially on the smaller ice. They do not open up and it’s hard to get behind them. You saw it in the World Championship and today was the same. We study the opposition; we look for their weak spots. Today we had a plan to win the game, and we did it.”

Finland took third place in the tournament and drew level with the Czech Republic in the overall Euro Tour standings. The Czechs, meanwhile, followed victory at the Karjala Cup with a fourth-placed result here.

Loeffel makes history with Switzerland

Good omen for 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship host Switzerland as the Swiss national team won their home tournament of the December International Break in convincing fashion. It was their second tournament win in just over a month after having claimed the Deutschland Cup in November.

Swiss defenceman Romain Loeffel scored four goals in his country’s 8-2 victory over Russia ‘B’ at the NaturEnergie Challenge in Visp. The 28-year-old became only the second man ever to score four for the Swiss in the modern era, following Felix Hollenstein’s haul in a 20-1 victory over China in 1994. Loeffel is the first blue liner to hit four in one game for the Swiss.

“I had no idea these were so historic,” he said after the game. “I was mostly just happy for the team that we put on such a great performance. And of course it’s great to score four goals. I’ll keep my stick and the pucks that I scored with in a place of honour when I get them home.”

Switzerland’s emphatic victory in that game followed a 5-0 semi-final win over Norway as the host nation topped the table in this mini-tournament. Simon Moser scored twice against the Norwegians, while Enzo Corvi had three assists.

Russia started the tournament with a shootout win over Slovakia, recovering from 0-2 to tie it 2-2 in regulation. Norway defeated the Slovaks 4-1 for third place

Back-to-back wins for Belarus

In the Hungarian capital of Budapest, Belarus came out on top in a six-team tournament within the Euro Challenge framework. The Belarusians defeated France 3-2 in the gold-medal game after topping its group ahead of Korea and Ukraine.

Head coach Mikhail Zakharov admitted that he could not remember the last time Belarus won two tournaments in a row. Earlier this season Belarus won in Liepaja, Latvia. “Last year, we lost every tournament we played,” he said. “In recent years, we’ve found it tough to win even one tournament in the Euro Challenge, never mind two.”

Zakharov also noted that he had a more experienced and skilled roster in Hungary. Andrei Kostitsyn was a key player, scoring twice in the final against France, while Nick Bailen had two assists in the same game.

However, there was a curious conclusion to the group stage meeting between Belarus and Ukraine. In the 43rd minute, an injury to Ukrainian goalie Bogdan Dyachenko meant the game had to be halted. The starting netminder, Oleg Petrov, had been injured earlier in proceedings and there was nobody else available to see out the rest of the play. Belarus was leading 4-1 at the time and was awarded the victory by that scoreline.

Korea took third place thanks to a 5-2 win over Japan in the bronze-medal game. Hungary got the better of Ukraine in the placement match-up.

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