Category: Interviews (Page 1 of 7)

Nikita Bashkirov: “I feel at home here”

By Maxim Garashchuk – National Teams of Ice Hockey

On November 6, Russian forward Nikita Bashkirov signed a contract with the Lithuanian club Baltu Ainiai Kaunas. Previously played in the Sweden for Olofströms IK. In his debut game in the Lithuanian Championship, Nikita scored 4 goals and added two assists, as his team beat Klaipeda (12: 3). In a conversation with one of our journalists, the former Stalnye Lisy forward told why he decided to leave Sweden and also shared his emotions about the first match with Baltu Ainiai Kaunas.

Why did you decide to leave Olofströms IK?

At Olofströms IK I didn’t get enough playing time. At the same time, not all the conditions for my arrival there were fulfilled by the club’s management, and I had problems with the English language. I constantly had to ask Pavils Galsons to translate all the coach’s requirements to me. Then the second wave of coronavirus began and the games in Sweden were postponed for a month. Then I decided that something needed to be changed so that all this would not last the whole season. I began to communicate with the management of the club so that they would let me go.

How did you get the offer to play in Lithuania?

While I was solving issues with the club’s manager, I was looking for options in other countries for a comfortable continuation of this season, and through some friends, I  found a good Belarusian coach in Lithuania – Alexander Mikheyonok . I talked with him, he just said that they have one place for a foreign player and they will wait for me, as I will resolve all issues with “Olofströms IK”.

How would you comment on the debut game in Lithuania?

The debut game was quite interesting, as “Klaipeda” had one of the best goalkeepers in the league. The entire game was played practically in the opponent’s zone and there were a lot of chances to score. we did not start well in the first half of the first period of the game, but then we broke through and the result was a 12: 3 defeat of Klaipeda.

You finished with 4 goals and two assists?

 I didn’t expect it to turn out that way. The last time something like this happened to me was in my youth hockey days.

 Did you know anything about the local championship before coming to Lithuania?

My friend here is Makar Tokarev. Before my arrival, he told me everything: about the city, management, coaches, living conditions and the level of hockey. Therefore, nothing surprised me when I arrived in Lithuania. I feel at home here. The team received me well.

How is the team preparing for the upcoming game against the 21-time national champion Energija Elektrėnai?

It’s just another game for us.  We prepare for all games the same way. We respect all of our opponents in the league.

Q & A with Javokhir Rasulov

By Vitaly Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Javokhir Rasulov allocated time for us and talked about himself, about the tasks for the season and about Uzbek hockey

Javokhir, hello. Tell us about your career, how did you come to hockey?

Hello. Yes, my career roughly speaking is just beginning.
(Javokhir is 20 years old, he was born on February 6, 1999)

I started in Samara in the courtyard, I was 10-11 years old, and at the age of 12 I went to play professionally for CSK VVS children’s school, now it is called “Kometa”. and so it slowly went from there.

How was the transition to Humo?

I was happy that a team was created in my hometown. A gift of fate, It’s a great opportunity to become a good player, because I haven’t played for the last 2 years.

In your opinion, what should “Humo” count on this season, what is the task for the season?

The task is to get into the playoffs, the further the better. We have a good team, two experienced and two young teams, many have played in the KHL and MHL.
There are even hockey players with experience of playing overseas (defender Igor Merezhko and foward Vasily Aniskin played in the Canadian junior leagues,
)

You are still the only hockey player in Humo  from Uzbekistan, tell me, are you planning to strengthen the team with more local players in the future?

There is another guy in the second team, he started to play in Tashkent, but I think that within 5-7 years there will be more composition by local players. There are children born in 2007-2009, a couple of good guys, they play in the championship of Kazakhstan.

Javokhir Rasulov is proud to be playing for is home town team

“But the future of Uzbek hockey should be promising, because the entry of the clubs of the“ Humo ”system in various professional championships gave a good boost for future development.

 I also think so, it’s very good that we have created two teams and the children will come to us and understand what real hockey is. People will bring their children and this will give a good reason for the children to think about starting to play hockey. Soon they want to create a national team. In general, we will develop.

Please share your impressions of the first game between Humo and Ryazan.

The first period did not go as we wanted, since we had not played for a long time. In the second period, we came out fast and scored alot of goals and followed the coach’s instructions. (“Humo” won with a score of 5: 0,) 

Thank you very much to the fans for coming to support us. There were even more people for the game with Barça. I think that over time there will be full stands, but so far many do not know that such a game exists in Tashkent. Also tickets to the games are expensive and many may not want to spend their money.

Uzbekistan cannot be called a country remote from hockey. Many fans are familiar with the Binokor club, which played in the USSR championship. Quite a long time has passed since then. Since then have many people forgotten about hockey?

 Well, don’t tell. You know, I once met people, even rode in a taxi once, asked “What are you doing?”, and when I talk about hockey, they immediately started to remember about Binokor club. People of a certain age of course remember about the club.

Can you tell us why Humo started to play in the VHL championship?

Well, it’s not for nothing that we got such a great arena (LOL)

Q & A with Shaylene Swanepoel

Shaylene Swanepoel 10 year veteran of south Africa Women’s National Team

By George Da Silva – National Teams of ice Hockey

We had the great pleasure of speaking with Shaylene Swanepoel a 10 year veteran of the South African Women’s National Team and also a awesome chiropractic.

How did you get started in ice hockey?

Ice hockey isn’t exactly considered a common sport to be played in South Africa. We used to go to the public sessions and skate for hours at a time. From there we met the “better skaters” that actually introduced my sister and I to ice hockey. This was something different and fun to try do… I mean, my sister and I weren’t allowed to Rollerblade, however we managed to twist my parents arm into trying to play ice hockey.

Why did you become a goaltender?

For about 3 years I played defence. My ex-boyfriend used to play in goal… So I thought why not give it a go?

It turned out I wasn’t that bad – had a decent blocker and a not too bad butterfly for a first timer. I kept on playing in goal because I loved the challenge, I do find that goalkeepers at times get over looked and maybe not enough credit for some of their efforts. It’s a huge mental game, not only physical. The training is also unique which makes you a huge part of the team. Makes me feel great that I can contribute in some way to my team.

Some may say I just don’t like to get off the ice haha, as being part of the reason. But it really is a position where not only do you get to appreciate the game by watching, but also by being involved and part of the action.

Shaylene Swanepoel concentrates on #10 of Belgium in front of her goal.

How did women’s hockey get started in south Africa and is women’s hockey growing in the country?

South African Ice Hockey has been a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) since 1937. Due to sanctions we were not allowed to participate in IIHF world championships until 1994. The first Woman’s team to represent South Africa in an international event was 1999. It was difficult years to try and qualify for World championships, in those day’s. It was difficult for woman players as there was no woman’s league and female players played and competed with their male counter parts.

Since those early day’s a lot has changed. Woman’s ice hockey development increased tremendously since then. Our numbers steadily increased to more then 175 female players in the country from all ages, races and religions.

There isn’t much information on the web about domestic women league in South Africa, can you tell us about it?

All provinces now has development woman players, playing half/cross ice games, in the smaller provinces these woman teams will play against junior boys teams except for Gauteng Ice Hockey Association where they have 4 development ladies teams since 2015 which compete in their own league against each other with the youngest player as young as 7 years old since most ladies still play in teams with their male counterparts. Gauteng ice hockey created an all woman’s team the Black Panthers in 2013, this team compromised off all their elite woman players (most of which were national team players) competing in the U18 boys league. In 2017 Gauteng Ice Hockey created a Junior Panthers team for younger female players showing potential, they competed in the U16 boys league. It became evident that woman change their game when they play against woman then when they play against men therefore, Gauteng created a senior woman’s league in 2019, they created 2 equal strength teams to compete against each other, it is important for the younger players to play and learn from the older players, as a result the Junior Panthers program has been discontinued.

How has the coronavirus pandemic effect ice hockey in the county?

The Corona Virus pandemic impacted the sport tremendously. All ice hockey activities was suspended since the lock down started, as a result our U18 Men’s and Senior Men’s tours for the IIHF world championships has been cancelled. We also withdrew our U20 team which were supposed to participate in their tournament during January 2021 in Mexico City. On ice practices are only starting now, there is a lot of hard work ahead of us to be able to participate in the rest of the Championship schedule, in February, March and April 2021.These are all dependent on pandemic control. During the lock down, SAIHF in partnership with Star Zone sport in Sweden, presented a winner heads program to keep players off ice skills and fitness up. For our National program the SAIHF director of coaching, Andre Marais, worked with APA training systems for a more intense off ice fitness program.

You have represented your country in 10 IIHF world championships, what is your most memorable tournament?

Wow, 10 already.

I would have to say our most recent one in Bulgaria December 2019 (2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship Division III). After playing numerous tours, winning gold definitely takes the cake.

South Africa captures gold at the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship Division III

Did you ever have any offers or want to leave South Africa to play hockey at a higher level?

Unfortunately no offers, it would have been great though. I would have loved to have tried to get to play anywhere in the world. A lot of the time, funding is a huge part of why some of us can’t get to other parts of the world for exposure.

But if I could even get a chance to be one of the treating Chiropractors for one of the teams, that would also be amazing.

Shaylene Swanepoel leads her team to a 2-1 victory over Hong Kong

You now have other African countries playing the game like Kenya, Algeria and Morocco. Do you think the game can grow on the African continent?

Definitely YES! It would be fantastic! It may be challenging considering our climate on this side of the world. Funding and investments is also some of the hurdles we all may face. However why not start somewhere? It just may take a bit of time.

You are now a chiropractic. Why did you pick this line of work?

On my first hockey tour….we had a Chiropractor on as our team Medical Doctor. I didn’t know what Chiropractors were until I had seen what she had done for our team. This got me into researching and observing what Chiropractors do for not only athletes, but also for babies, adults, geriatrics, as well as pre and post surgery patients. It showed me how we as a profession can make a difference in someone’s life, and I fell in love with the profession and never looked back.

Outside of hockey and your professional career, what are your goals?

That’s a very good question…. It’s a tricky one to answer. My goal is to live a long and happy life with the ones I love around me.

Shaylene Swanepoel and the rest the South African Women’s National Team

Awards: 
2010-2011
World Championship (D4) Top Player on Team

2014-2015
World Championship (D2BQ) Best GAA (1.27)
World Championship (D2BQ) Best SVS% (.951) 
World Championship (D2BQ) Bronze Medal

2015-2016
World Championship (D2BQ) Bronze Medal

2016-2017
World Championship (D2BQ) Bronze Medal

2017-2018
World Championship (D2BQ) Bronze Medal

2018-2019
World Championship (D2BQ) Bronze Medal

2019-2020 World Championship (D3) Gold Medal

Maxim Viktorov: “In Croatia in the 90s I received more money”

By Vitaly Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The head coach of the Night Hockey League club “Yadreny Vozhd” Maxim Viktorov in an exclusive interview with our website spoke about life in Croatia and local hockey in the 90s.

Why Croatia?

I left in the mid-90s for Croatia to play for Medvescak by invitation. I left, it seems, in the 96-97 season after the games for SAK Moscow.

I played three seasons at Medvescak, and in the second to the third season I was allowed to play for the national team.

The move to Croatia was due to the invitation of the “Sab-Spartak Moscow-2” coach Yuri Nikolaevich Novikov, a well-known coach both in Russia and in the world. Before joining SAK, I played on that team. At that time, he was invited to work as a head coach at Medvescak and he invited me as one of the leading players of the team. Actually, I agreed. Then in Russia everything was not so simple with hockey and with life. I approximately remember the low level of salaries then, and traveling abroad was generally considered a miracle. Therefore, it was interesting to go and try to play there. Arriving there, I met other hockey players from Russia whom I did not know. They were mostly veterans, but there were also younger hockey players. As for the Croatian national team, it seems that only Gennadi Gorbachev was there before me. If so, then it turns out that I am the second Russian in the history to play for the Croatian national team.

Gennadi Gorbachev took part in the world championships for the Croatian national team in 1994, 1995 and 1996. Gorbachev was the top scorer of the tournament in 1996.

I spent three years in Croatia, played at the World Championships and left for Russia, but I didn’t gain a foothold anywhere. I had to pause a little. Then I began to play for the Sokol Novocheboksarsk.  I went to my last world championships. In the same season and then returned to Medvescak for half a season, and did not go to play for the national team four a fourth World Championships. The injuries began, so I decided to end my career. Recently I have been receiving invitations to work as a trainer in Croatia, but now I have other tasks related to the project in Moscow.

Maxim Viktorov head coach of the Night Hockey League club Yadreny Vozhd

What is Croatian ice hockey in the 90s?

Croatian ice hockey has not changed in the 90s, 2000s and 2020. I regularly follow hockey in the country, I know the situation from the inside, because I have good relations with the sports director of one of the clubs and with the president of another club team, and I regularly visit this country myself.

In the 90s there were four clubs in which both Russians and Slovaks played and a few Czechs. Then there were some restrictions on the number of foreign players on the teams. I, Gorbachev and a Slovak were on Medvescak. Naturally, there were also local players. The best Croatian hockey players were gathered in “Medvescak”, since the club has its own winning history, every season there was a task to win. It is important to understand that there it is amateur hockey by our standards. I knew that if I wanted to continue to play at a good level, I had to constantly train. So I did it on my own time, kept myself in shape. We played in international league, there it was a joint league with Slovenia and Hungarian clubs. There were many tournaments, as Hungary and Slovenia are nearby. International championships were normal. Sport in Croatia is generally very developed,

At that time the salaries were higher than in Russia, comfortable living, wonderful climate, kind people. In general, I found only positive impressions of Croatia.

I quickly joined the team, the team accepted me, and I began to show good results. I was offered to stay for the next season, and Yuri Nikolaevich at that time had already left for Soviet Wings. He called me to his place an ask me to play at the, Mayor’s Cup, but it didn’t work out for me and I came back to Medvescak. They were waiting for me there, everyone was happy with everything, we won, we were champions, I was the best player. and after the second season, I was told: to stay with the club for another season, They give me citizenship and was told me” I would play for the national team.” I agreed. I also had a offer from Slovenia, where Sergei Stolbun played in Jesenica. He invited me there, but I refused, as everything suited me at Medvescak, and the agreement was in terms of playing for the Croatian national team, so I stayed. And I got citizenship, got the right to play for the national team and went to the World Championships.

Croatia squad?

The games for the national team practically did not differ from the games for the club, because both in the club and on the national team, all the hope was on me, because I was a foreign, So I had to carry the whole team. Of course, my teammates helped me, because we were already had played together, so it was easier for me. At theskill  level that we had, we had enough strength to beat serious opponents. But without my 100% dedication and extra efforts it would be hard to achieve something. We did not have a goal to win the tournament, we had goals either not to be demoted to the lower division or to take a medal from the championships. I played in three tournaments – Group C in the Netherlands in 1999, Group C in China in 2000, we got promoted and finished 3rd place in 2001 we played at IB in Slovenia. I still have a medal for the 3rd place finish.

What now?

I had good relationships with both players and people from the people who ran the hockey club, and not only. I have been friends with Marin Miljak for many years, we met him when he was still a Zagreb player. We often see each other and I communicate with his parents, with his family. Marin is a wonderful person with a lot of experience. He now works at Zagreb as a coach and sports director. Last season, under his leadership, the club for the first time in many years, it seems, in 36 years, became the champions of Croatia and broke the dominance of Medvescak.

Now professional “Medvescak” does not exist, only a school and a youth team are working. In other clubs the situation is no better. In principle, it is not clear how the future seasons of both the local and foreign championships will develop, not only because of financial problems, but also because of the coronavirus.

And at the moment I work as a coach in the Moscow club of the Night Hockey League “Yadreny Vozhd”, and since this season I am also a regional representative of the NHL in Moscow.

Q & A with Dan Locmelis

By Maxim Garashchuk – National Teams of ice hockey

At the age of 15, Dans Lochmelis moved from Latvia to Sweden, where he now plays for the Luleå club system and already in the first season abroad, the 16-year-old forward managed to become the best sniper in the Sweden U16 Elite league.

How did you start playing hockey?

My father used to play hockey, and when I was two years old, he took me with him and I would skate on the ice skated. Once my dad and I went to eat at a cafe after his training, then the guys would trained on ice and I told my father that I also want to play hockey. This is how my hockey career began.

Why did you choose the forward position?

I don’t know why I chose the forward position, but I can say that I have not even tried to play other positions.

How did it happen that you moved to Sweden so early?

An agent called me and offered for me to try my hand in Sweden, where everything is high level and where the club pays for everything. I think that very few people would refuse this offer, so I went to Sweden.

Did you know Sandis Vilmanis before coming to Sweden?

Yes, I knew Sandis before going to Sweden, as we often played against each other. In the end, it turned out that the agent offered both of us to go to the same country and now we have become teammates.

What were your initial expectations from the first season in Sweden?

I really didn’t expect much. I just wanted to train and play at a high level.

Were you surprised that you managed to be one of best players and finish in the TOP-3 among scoring leaders?

Yes, I was surprised. I didn’t think that my debut season abroad would turn out this good.

Is it an achievement for you that you have already become captain of the national team for your age group?

I do not consider this an achievement, but being the captain is a great honor for me.

Rainers and Dans with Team Latvia U16

What is the difference between a captain and a regular player?

There is no big difference, but the captain, unlike an ordinary player, should be an example for the whole team.

Who do you consider the best Latvian hockey players?

Not to say that I have idols, but if I were to pick TOP 5 of the best Latvian players, it would look like this: Rudolf Balcers, Kaspars Daugavins,Theodor Blueger, Lauris Darzins and Miks Indrasis.

Was it a shame that in the end you did not manage to overtake your friend in points scored?

No, there was no such feeling. Hockey is a team sport. Basically I played with Sandis on the same line, so we helped each other score points.

You have already have been playing for Lulea U18 team this year. was it hard so abruptly to switch from one age category to another?

It was a little difficult. Faster hockey in U18, you have to make faster decisions, and this made the game more difficult and more interesting.

Are you ready to play fully in the U18 league?

Definitely, I’m ready.

Luleå plays in SHL. How soon do you think you and Sandis will debut in the top league?

I think Sandis and I can make our SHL debut, but definitely not this season.Of course, every hockey player would like to debut in adult hockey as fast as possible.

Did you follow the situation with Riga Dynamo?

Yes, and now I continue to follow the news about Riga Dynamo.

Next year, some of the games of the World ice hockey Championship should be held in Riga. Is this an important event for Latvia?

I think yes. This will be a great opportunity to see the NHL players and other top leagues. Latvia has the best fans, I think they can help national team in the fight for the title.

Did you manage to learn the language during your time in Sweden?

Now I know a little Swedish. I think that this was the hard part learning a new language for me when moving from Latvia to Sweden.

What was your most memorable moment in the 2019/20 season?

It was the moment when we reached the quarter finals. It’s a pity that due to COVID-19 we were unable continue the season. We had a good chance of winning it all.

What are your goals for the next season?

First of all, I would like to win the championship with Lulea U18 and then I would like to play for the U20 team.

How Slovak Vladimir Kurian became a Chilean hockey player

By IamVitoNesta – National Teams of Ice Hockey Blog @ Sports.ru

Vladimir Kurian – about his career, about life, about Chile at IIHF

Why did you choose hockey?

It was an easy choice for me, I still remember that moment. When I was 9, I watched the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer on TV. At the time, I knew nothing about hockey, as I spent most of my time taking piano lessons. My mother also played the piano, and I really enjoyed playing. But that day changed everything. For the first time I saw a game that I fell in love with instantly, with such players as Palffy, Stastny, Satan became a kind of example for me. That day we beat Canada 3: 1 and then I said to my father “I want to become a hockey player!” Everything turned out to be go great – we lived in Banska Bystrica, very close to the ice arena, and a school with a sports bias, and I was taken to hockey.

What made you move to Chile?

After a difficult period in my life in Slovakia, I wanted to start life from scratch. My parents died of cancer – my father died when I was 25, and my mother 5 years later. They were literally dying in front of my eyes, it was the most difficult period in my life and it was not easy to cope with it. At that moment I realized that I had to leave Slovakia for a while. The choice was between Canada and Chile, in Canada I lived for some time, and therefore I knew the language and I had several acquaintances there. But in Chile I had a friend whom we met in the USA, when I worked there in the “Work and travel” program. Subsequently, we traveled a lot around the America and once he came to me in Slovakia. In the end, I flew to Chile, I wanted to stay there for 3 months as a tourist. But during this time I fell in love with this country, people were friendly to me, and I felt that I can start my new life here. It took me some time to learn Spanish. Now in Chile I am an independent person, I have my own business, I discover new things for myself in this country, and I help to develop hockey in Chile.

How did you get into Chilean hockey?

 I have always loved hockey, but I had no idea that there is hockey in Chile. But when I found out about this, I looked on the Internet for something about hockey in the country, and found the club “Santiago Yeti”. I contacted the club, I was immediately answered and invited to the team. At that time, I was without equipment, so I had to borrow skates and a couple of golf clubs. The team believed that since I was from Slovakia, I was playing professionally, so I spent more and more time on the ice, and then I was offered to become a become a player coach.

Vladimir Kurian in his Chilian Jersey

Do you play for any club now?

No, at one time I played for my city in the junior league, there was no chance of a professional career, since this is more of a hobby than a job with which I would like to connect my life. But hockey is still important for me.

Did the Chilean national team fulfill their tasks at the Latam Cup?

 First of all, I want to say that I am proud to be a player of the Chilean national team and a part of Chilean hockey. I came here 4 years ago, received citizenship and residence, and was able to play for the Chilean national team. We have a lot of players who play passive hockey, but they try hard to improve their skills.

Latam Cup became a huge experience for us, we were able to assess our level, the level of other teams, players, and realized that we had a huge work ahead of us to improve the quality and level of play. If we return to your question, then yes, we are satisfied with the performance of our team, and this is an invaluable experience gained at the Latam Cup.

Latam Cup is a hockey tournament among the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, held annually in Florida (ed.), And the Chile national team in the last tournament took 6th place out of 7.

After the Latam Cup, Colombia joined the IIHF, what are the plans for the future of hockey in Chile?

Yes, becoming a part of IIHF is a great honor both for Colombia and for Latin America in general. Congratulations to them, they deserve it, it shows that the level of hockey in Latin America is growing. But Chile is still far from the IIHF. Chile is a beginner in hockey, we don’t even have the right training for our athletes, but we are trying to move on. Our main goal is to create a development program and involve children in hockey. It is also necessary to create a federation in order to get the attention of the government and get some support, but this is not an easy task. In the meantime, you need to do basic things, spend more time on the ice, find financial support for the purchase of hockey equipment, support the school.

What do you do in your free time from hockey?

I work as a DJ and a music producer, I started my own business importing vegan products from Slovakia to Chile, so there is very little time left for hockey.

Do you play your music in the dressing room?

 Not really, I leave the choice to my partners. Electronic music is not as popular in Latin America as in Europe.

How many people attend your concerts?

At the moment I’m more of a music producer than a DJ. Because of the business, there is practically no time left to work as a DJ. Therefore, I enjoy music as a producer.

What Track do you Recommend?

I would recommend “The Awakening”, this track I composed in Chile, it describes my big change in life.

Q & A with Patryk Wysocki

By Maxim Garashchuk – National Teams of ice Hockey

The only Polish player in the history of the MHL, 20-year-old defender Patrick Wysocski, who managed to play for clubs from four countries where hockey is not very popular, he spoke about himself, and also shared his opinion whether weak teams are needed in local leagues.

How did you start playing hockey and why did you choose this sport?

I started playing hockey when I was four years old. It all started with the fact that my older brother also played hockey, he is four years older than me. Why did you choose this particular sport? I was invited to train with my brother, I skated with them on the ice and, apparently, I liked it alot.

You were born in Belarus, but why did you decide to play for the Polish national team?

Yes, I was born in the town of Nesvizh. My dad is Belarusian, and my mom is from Poland. Almost immediately we moved to Poland and it so happened that because of this I only have a Polish passport.

Was there an opportunity to get into the national team of Belarus and did you ever want to play for them?

Of course, there was no such proposal from Belarus. I think if it were, then my parents and I would have thought about it, and perhaps I would try to play for Belarus.

In the Polish championship, two of the three clubs you played for were youth. ( Patrick Wysocski played for SMS Sosnowiec U20, GKS Katowice and PhZL Katowice U23 )

Yes, there is a PHZL Katowice U23 in the championship. It is considered the preparatory team for the World Junior Championships. All the guys who want to be in the national team can get there and play in the Polish championship. 1-2 days before the game they will be added to the roster and told to prepare for the game. If I am not mistaken, the team, after the World Junior Championships, which ends in December, no longer takes part in the league.

Is it good that there is such a team in the PHL?

Yes, I think it is needed. It’s funny that you play in your club at the youth level and you can be called up to the Under 23 team. This allows more games to be played per season, which allows for additional XP. If you are a young player, you can only get this opportunity in Poland.

According to the statistics of Eliteprospects, in the 15/16 season you played only in the national team. Is it really so?

No, a little different. Yes, I played in the national team, and at the club level I played for the Belarusian junior for HC Brest.

Viktor Zaluzky and Patryk Wysocski in the HC Brest

At the end of the 16/17 season you left Brest. What caused this?

I moved from Brest to Gdansk. First of all, conditions were better in Gdansk. When I was 16 years old, I did not look at salaries, but in Belarus they offered much less money. In Poland, the level was higher, and so my parents and I decided that we needed to move to Gdansk. And the coach at MH Automatyka Gdansk was Kovalev, who had experience of working in the Minsk Dynamo.

How did it happen that yourself, Kirill Gerasimenko and Dmitri Shcherbakov went out on the ice with basketballs?

There is a basketball team in Gdansk. We were asked to shoot a video, like an invitation to a basketball games. So we went out with the basketballs

Kirill Gerasimenko, Dmitri Shcherbakov and Patryk Wysocski in Gdansk

You played for the Polish national team for four seasons in a row.

I played two times at the junior and youth world championships.

Did you expect to be called up to the national team last season?

I did not receive a call to the main team. So far, no one has written to me and no one has called. It’s hard to say whether I was waiting or not. Somehow I didn’t think about it. If they ask me to go – I will go. I believe that I will get my chance, because I am only 20 years old. You can say that I am still young.

Next year, the 2021 World Championships in the IB division will be held in Katowice. Would you like to play there?

Yes, of course, I would like to play. This is only for the benefit of your career to say that you played with the national team of your country. It’s kind of a plus. It’s cool that we will play at home.

How do you assess the chances of the Polish national team to be promoted?

It seems to me that Poland can go to IA, because the IB division is not the level at which the national team of our country should be in. A year ago, there was a chance to rise higher, but one point was not enough.

For you, the past season was you did not score any goals. Will this affect your performance in the upcoming season?

In fact, it’s a shame that this season I failed to score. I think that every coach sees the game differently and every player has his own role on the team. There are defenders who do not know how to attack, but defend well, and there are defenders who play poorly in defense, but look good in attack. I will try to score more.

You’ve already had something similar. For the first time in a long time, then you distinguished yourself in the Kunlun Red Star Heilongjiang. This was your first goal in the MHL. Do you remember how you got to throw?

Yes, I remember that match. We played against Kapitan Stupino. We were losing
0: 5. I shot the puck from the blue line and it somehow flew into the goal. And in general, that game ended 5: 7.

Patryk Wysocski with puck of first goal in MHL

Do you still have that puck?

Yes, I took it. It lies at my house and reminds me of the MHL.

What Medals have you won?

I have two silver medals from the World Youth Championship and a gold one from the junior one. I think these are the most valuable of the medals.

How did you manage to win the junior world championship?

We scored more than the opponents (lol). We meshed into one whole team. The most important thing is that everyone supported each other and played better with each other, therefore we won gold medal.

Maciej Rybak and Patrick Wysocski celebrate winning the 2016 Junior World Championships

On February 9, the Polish national team beat Kazakhstan in the pre qualification for the Olympic Games. Did you watch that match and were you surprised by the result?

Yes, I watched the match when the Poles played against the Kazakhs. It’s cool that Poland managed to win. I was a little shocked that Kazakhstan lost with such a squad, especially at home, Hockey is such a game that it is not clear who will win and when.

Two new teams will play in the PHL next season. Do you think it is right that lower division clubs get their chance in the PHL?

Yes, two clubs got a chance to play in PHL, and one team was eliminated – MH Automatyka Gdansk . I played there. They have minor financial and ice-rink problems. Let the league expand. Why not? Let there be more teams, more guys playing. Then the level of Polish hockey will rise. As for me, this is good.

What experience did the Continental Cup give you?

I didn’t play much in the Continental Cup. There was a story there. At Katowice we had a Canadian coach. He preferred to play with five or six defenders, and there were nine of us then. This led to the fact that many players did not play. Anyway, I managed to watch the international tournament. Going at the age of 19, or even just attend such a tournament, to play a couple of shifts is an experience.

With what expectations did you go to Belgium and how professional is everything there in terms of hockey?

When I terminated the contract with ORG Junior Beijing , I came home to Brest to see my parents. I got an agent and we were waiting for offers. It is clear that in the middle of the season it is difficult to get somewhere, because the rosters of the clubs have been formed. For me, the season was not the best, as I was injured with a tear in the ligaments on my knee. In December, an offer came from Antwerp Phantoms. I understood where I was going, that this BeNe is not the best league in the world. I didn’t want to lose the rest of the season and during the time in Belgium I could improve my weaknesses. If we compare Belgian hockey with Polish, then Polish, of course, is a higher level. In BeNe, not all players approach the game professionally. There are professional and semi-professional teams. I expected a little different, but what worked, it worked.

How can you compare part of the season in the Bene league with part of the season in ORG Junior Beijing?

 Here and there my teams were in the last places. When you get into such clubs, you are more on the defensive. As a defender, it even works in my favor. Although you still need to learn to play attack.

ORG Junior Beijing this season beat Moscow Dynamo. Did you communicate with any of your former teammates after that match?

We still correspond with some of them. Then I called the boys and asked how they managed to win. In that game, they only had ten players. They said that they were surprised at their victory. In the course of the season, they did manage to win a lot of games, but here they beat Dynamo with ten men.

ORG Junior Beijing played all home matches in Dmitrov. Do you think this is unfair enough?

Why is it unfair? I think it was the right decision. We were supposed to be based in Riga, but the Chinese hockey players were not given visas and because of this we were told that we would live somewhere in the Moscow region. I think that it even played a positive role, since there were no long flights. All the essentials were in Dmitrov. The town is small, ice-covered and there is a hotel.

A year and a half ago, you got a unique opportunity in a game against MHC Spartak. Your playing time has almost reached 30 minutes. Do you remember that game?

I have more hockey memories with Kunlun than with ORG Junior Beijing. That season it was the other way around, I came to Kunlun in the second part of the season. I have not spent less than 20 minutes on the ice. Sometimes we played four defenders. So in this regard, I was definitely satisfied. Yes, we lost, but everyone got a lot of playing time.

What are your plans for the next season?

I will definitely will not return to Belgium. Now I am not considering the option of continuing my career there, and so far there have been no proposals from their side. In general, there are no plans yet. Due to the coronavirus, almost no one knows anything. Clubs from some countries are already making transfers, starting to conduct trainings, and in many of them nothing has even budged yet. Therefore, I cannot say anything about this yet.

Vito Nikolic: “After the departure of foreign players, we understood that Medvescak was over”

By Sergei Bychkov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

22-year-old goalkeeper of the Croatian national team and the last official player of Medvescak Vito Nikolic spoke about Zagreb, about local hockey and about the club during there death.

 You were born in Zagreb, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and a very beautiful city. Tell us about the city, about the people who live there?

I love Zagreb, this is my home. The people here are kind, the city is beautiful, and there is something to see all the time. I like the atmosphere in the city. This is exactly what you need, the perfect balance between rush and relaxation, and I myself prefer the relaxing side of Zagreb. People here love to spend time in cafes, sitting and chatting. It’s kind of a culture here.

3 best places in the city, where, in your opinion, everyone should be if they come to Zagreb?

 Almost everything happens in the center of Zagreb, but two places that are not in the center of the city and must be seen are Medvedgrad, the castle above Zagreb, and the zoo. A coffee session at the center is required. My recommendation is to go to Zagreb in the winter, around Christmas time.

Let’s talk about hockey. How did you end up liking hockey? Why did you choose this particular sport?

My dad took me skating with him when I was 2.5 years old, and I really liked it, then he sent me to the hockey camp, and I realized that I wanted to become a hockey player. I have tried other sports, but I never stopped playing hockey.

Vito Nikolic with team Croatia.

Tell us about your first team you played for?

My first team was Mladost Zagreb, where I learned how to skate and it took me 3 seasons before I could put on my uniform and play real hockey because I was too young.

 You started your professional career in the Slovak U-18 league with Topolcany in the 13/14 season, played 4 matches,  and had  GAA of 4.23 goals per game and save percentage of 90.4% . Why did you start your career in Slovakia? How can you rate time with the team? What do you remember the most?

I went to Slovakia in the 2012/13 season, playing in the U16, and I think this season helped me a lot to improve my game. I had to leave Croatia because I wanted to improve and play the best hockey. Slovakia is a hockey country and I had a chance to leave Croatia, so I took it. I learned a lot there because we constantly trained there. It was a good experience for me, and then I was given a few extra games with the U16 team.

Your last year in Slovakia you played in Dubnica U-18. Although your stats were worse than a year earlier, you played 19 matches, you had more practice. Which of these seasons has helped you improve your skills and play the most?

Yes, that was the year when of ups and downs began. One game could be great and the next day I had a bad game. That year I was working on improving myself, and I think that the experience I got that season helped me a lot too.

That year you also made your debut for the Croatian national team at the IIA U-18 World Championship, where you played 4 matches and had a saved percentage of 88% . The Croatian national team finished in 5th place in this tournament. How can you rate your play at this tournament?

 At that tournament, our goal was to stay in the division, and we did it. I could have played better in some games, but I didn’t let the team down in the games that mattered the most. Then there was the game against the Netherlands national team for the 5th place, which we won 2: 1 and we were save.

Vito Nikolic in goal for the Croatian national team at the IIA U-18 World Championship

In the 16/17 season you played on three teams of the Medvescak system: Medvescak U-19 (Croatia U-18), Medvescak U-20 and Medvescak-II (IHL and Croatian championship, respectively). Was it hard to play when you changing teams and where did you feel the highest level of hockey was?

It was not hard, because it was the same circle of people. EBYSL (Austrian U-20 League) and IHL had their highest levels that season. The EBYSL teams had some great young players who now play for EBEL and IHL had some experienced players who have played for the Slovenian national team. so its hard to say.

 The next season was the best for you in terms of trophies: you played for Medvescak-II in the IHL (one of the Slovenian hockey leagues) and won the championship. You were the main goalkeeper on the team. In addition, you played for the Croatian U-20 national team in Division IIB of the World Youth Championship, played 4 matches, were named the top goaltender of the tournament and led your team to a bronze medals. How did you feel after such a successful year?

It was great to win the IHL, but I like playing for the national team more. It was a good tournament, but, unfortunately, we did not fulfill our task of winning gold medal. But I have good memories of that tournament.

Now let’s talk about season 18/19, the last season for Medvescak. What was the situation at the club before the season started?

The situation was pretty good, or so we thought. Everything looked good and normal. The problems began 3 months after the start of the season.

You played 14 matches for Medvescak in EBEL that season. On average, you conceded 8 goals per game and save percentage 86% of. How has the situation with the club changed over the season? When did you realize that this was the end for the club?

Yes, I started playing my first minutes on the main team after many foreign players  left the team and the team began to attract home base players. The results weren’t very good, we lost every game since it happened. During the games, about 60 shots were shot at our goal. The situation was so bad that we barely gathered 12 guys for several away games. The matches were very difficult, but we enjoyed playing.

As far as I know, you were the last official player of Medvescak, you left the team only on 26 August. How did the club fare at the end of the season?

– The end came almost when all the foreign players left, because they were not paid. So after the foreign players, we realized that this was the end, since there was no more money.

Vito Nikolic playing for Medvescak

As far as I understand, Medvescak does not exist now. Could Medvescak somehow comeback, do you think it was possible?

There is no such professional team as Medvescak. As we all know, nothing happens without money. If someone could raise money, I think that the team could be saved, I see no reason why it could not be in this case.

What is the current situation with hockey in Croatia after Medvescak “died”?

The situation has worsened, but Croatian hockey can survive without professional hockey.

On August 26, 2019, you signed a contract with the French team Courbevoie. You played for this team last season. What can you say about the team and hockey in France?

The team is very well organized and takes very good care of me. The league has several excellent foreign players with good experience. I am very happy there and will stay for one more season.

You played for the Croatian national team in two tournaments and played 3 matches in total. What is your rank on the national team? Is it possible to say that you are a young star of Croatian ice hockey?

 My rank depends on the goalkeepers who come to play for the national team. I wouldn’t say that, I still have a lot to prove, and so far I’ve only had one good tournament (lol).

One of the best goalies in the Medvescak System

What are your plans for the future? Do you have any offers from different teams?

I will continue this season at Courbevoie, and for now that’s all I know. I don’t know what the future will bring me.

How has quarantine changed your life?

Actually not that much, I was at home, enjoying the time with my family and training off the ice.

Who is your favorite player?

Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Nabokov.

What is your favorite NHL team?

Edmonton Oilers.

Your advice to players from countries that are exotic for hockey, such as Croatia.

If you are serious about hockey and you have a chance to play in a good hockey country, take it. Also, practice whenever you can and then just enjoy the game.

 I hope that my readers will believe in you and will follow your progress. Good luck and I hope that one day you will write your name in the history books of Croatian ice hockey!

 I hope so too, thanks for the interview!

Q & A with Nadina Nichiu

Romania women’s team at Div III World Cup in Bulgaria

By Vitaly Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

One of the most talent woman ice hockey player and goalie of national team of Romania Nadina Niciu told us about herself,about playing on the senior team and about her transfer to Finland.

Tell us about yourself?

I was born in Târgu Mureș, Romania, on the 28th of January 1999 in a city where we don’t have an ice rink. We have an outdoor rink for 3 months of the year, but only for the public. I was raised by my grandparents and I remember my grandfather always taking me to the ice rink ever since I was really really young. Maybe about 4-5? He used to take me there everyday, sometimes even twice. I fell in love with skating and I loved hockey, I’ve seen it in movies, but I had never heard anything about it in real life. I was a speed skater for 10 years, and one winter when we got off ice, the hockey team was up after us, which I was surprised to see, so I stood and watched. After their practice one of the guys let me fool around with his stick, and the coach spotted me and asked if I wanted to try it out. So I did. I was a player for 1 year. I never really had any specific goals, I played whatever I was needed. I enjoyed more to play defense cause I was a really good skater, but didn’t have any stick skills. I always wanted to play goalie, but there was no equipment in my home town. So after a year, I went and bought my own. I was almost 17 at the time, and everybody said it’s too late. So I wanted to show them how wrong they were. I was lucky to have awesome, dedicated coaches that helped me all the way through and awesome teammates that supported me. I slowly made it hard for any player to score on me, and once I got in the boys team I realized I can do even better. So I moved there with them where we had an ice rink and all the facilities, and I practiced every day for a whole season, with 4 teams in total. There were days where I would be on ice for 6-7 hours. But I loved every minute of it, those are the things that got me here. As for the women championship, my first team was «Triumf Bucharest», but they would hardly accept me as a goalie cause they needed players. So one year there was a new women team forming, «Fox Hockey» Gheorgheni, and I went to play for them, and they became my second family. I can’t thank them enough for everything. I also played for the national team. Two years in the u18 as a player, and 2 years on the seniors team as a goalie.

Nadina (right) with teammates

Where do you work?

I am a postwoman, but I want to study goalie coaching as soon as possible.

 Is it true that you played in the championship of Romania for the men’s team?

I played in the men’s team until the age of 20 and then only trained. I – was the only girl in the championship of Romania. I was in the application “Sapientia U23” in the season 18 \ 19.

Did you play for Sapientia that season when Sportul beat your team twice?

Yes, but I didn’t play any of these games. I am not so bad to got scored by «Sportul» players (laughing). I was supposed to play against Sportul but it was before world championships and the federation didn’t let me, so I wouldn’t get injured. They won only cause we didn’t take it seriously and after the game we were so mad. But the next day we won 17-2. Then they beat us one more time in the end of march. (9th of march 2019 romanian team «Sportul» won his first game since 2013. The lose more than two hundred games and 2233 days without win)

Training with Sapientia U23 ice hockey club

Most recently, you signed a contract with the Finnish club Koovee. How did this happen?

Two weeks ago someone said they were interested in me, so they got in touch. I automatically got excited and found out more about the club. Only heard good things about them, so I said yes! I’m really excited to get there and meet the team and play. I’m the type of goalie that gives 200% for her team so I like to believe I won’t let them down.

Tell me about your hockey career over the years? There is absolutely no information on the internet.

From 2015-2018 I played for Triumf Bucharest. This was a women’s team I spent the 2018/19 season Sapientia u23 and Fox Hockey from Gheorgheni.

Nadina’s debut match for Fox Hockey

What is the situation with women’s Romanian hockey?

The Federation does not help women’s hockey. Men’s hockey is far ahead, all the money goes there, hence the result – going to Div IA. They consider us a non-competitive team, although without finances we cannot be better. At least let them give us the opportunity to train with the men’s team so that we gain experience, but this is not there idea for us.

Do any of the Romanian hockey players play abroad?

Ana Voicu plays in Canada. She is 21 years old. I know Adela Sarbu she plays there too, but she is just 16 years old. We have more players I think that have opportunities now but I wouldn’t name them before it’s a sure thing.

How did Romania celebrated promotion to Division IA?

We were all thrilled! Something like this hasn’t happened in decades. It was a huge step forward for the Romanian hockey, and I’m sure these boys will be in hockey history books

Thanks to Ukrainian born players?

They consider themselves Romanians (laughing)

What is your best game?

“I can’t choose one.” I had an amazing season, so there are many games that I consider to be the best. With the exception of the World Championships, where I was injured, I went with a shootout streak up until the end of February. I got scored on only in the last 2 games, which is a thing I’m really proud of. That still didn’t affect the team considering we finished first in the championship (but there was no awards due to the coronavirus). If I were to choose a few games, I’d probably say the Sekler Cup (women’s local friendship tournament) final against Csikszereda where we won 3-0, and the game against Belgium. I only played the last 30 minutes, But I loved the way me and the team played.

Targu-Mures has an Arena Marosvásárhelyi Műjégpálya, when will it be finnished?

No, in 2008 they began to build an arena in Tirgu Mures. A lot of money was spent, but it was not enough. 12 years have passed, and the arena has not yet been completed. Although now in Tirgu Mures a skating rink with an inflatable dome has been made.

Marosvásárhelyi Műjégpálya Arena

Q & A with Pedro Tonietto

By Vitaly Nesterov  Nationalteamsoficehockey.com

Brazil goalkeeper Pedro Tonietto kindly chatted with us and told us a lot of interesting things about local hockey in Brazil.

First, tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in a small town in the south of Brazil, where they do not know about hockey at all. I am 27 years old and 8 years ago I moved to the USA from Brazil. Now I live in Tampa Bay.

Why did you choose ice hockey?

In fact, a lot of people fell in love with this game after watching the movie “Mighty Ducks”. I was one of them. As a child, I played roller hockey, but I always thought ice hockey was cooler. When I moved to Florida at age 19, I was still learning how skate and my passion turned into an obsession.

Where do you work?

I’m currently a Financial Analyst at a private wealth advisory firm. That has nothing to do with ice hockey, which at times turns out to be really challenging to do both at the same time. Fortunately I have a passion for finance as well as hockey, so I make it work.

Do you play for any club or only in the national team?

I have been playing for the national team since 2015, we played in the first in Pan American tournament, then it was abolished a new one tournament emerge  the Latam Cup. Until last year, I played for the University of Tampa. I also participate in training camps. Thanks to these camps, I have the opportunity to train with hockey players from the NHL, KHL and many other European leagues. In 2018, I trained with Shane Prince from Dynamo Minsk and then worked together with Kucherov. This camp was held in Clearwater, Florida. The camp was organized by a Swiss coach and there were many hockey players from all over the world, as well as from the USA and Canada. I always try to play for other teams when the Brazilian national team is not playing. For example, in Florida, a summer league was created, where several players from Brazil joined the teams all summer. I have a trainer and I work with them at least twice a week, sometimes even six times a week. The coach helped me a lot in ensuring that I played successfully for the national team.

There is also the Sun Coast Hockey League, which has just begun in Tampa. This is a four-team summer league, and most players are either drafted NHL players or NCAA players. I participated in three games, but I have a lot of work, so it’s not always possible to play.

What can you say about hockey in Brazil?

When you live in a country where hockey is practically absent, you will have to travel outside the country to become the best hockey player. Unfortunately, many hockey players leave Brazil to play in other countries. Hockey has been developing recently in our country, but it is not so popular so far. NHL matches are shown on Brazilian TV, this is a strong argument in favor of popularizing ice hockey in the country. In Sao Paulo recently opened an ice rink “Ice Brazil” We have great potential, We are growing the sport little by little.

January 25, 2020 in Sao Paulo opened the ice rink “Ice Brazil”

Inside the the ice rink

 Football matches between Brazil and Argentina are great and have amazing atmosphere. Is it the same in hockey?

The rivalry between Brazil and Argentina is a great confrontation in all sports, including ice hockey. Despite the fact that hockey in these countries is a relatively a new sport, it is always interesting to watch teams that develop and compete year after year in order to understand which of them is the best. Even our second teams playing against each other are very competitive. But the coolest thing is that both teams have the same goal – to develop ice hockey in South America. Athletes from both countries get along and help each other. Even our captain lives in Argentina and plays hockey there.

Match between Argentina & Brazil

You have a joint photo with Nikita Kucherov and Artemi Panarin. Is this during that same camp?

That was in 2018, about a week after that Swiss camp was over. When Kucherov and Panarin were skating here in Florida, their coach was a good friend of mine that I used to skate with on a regular basis. Andrei Vasilevskiy was supposed to be their goalie, but he decided to skate with the prospects instead. I got a call on Sunday night asking if I would be available to skate with them, and I didn’t think twice. It was an interesting skate, Kucherov is really quiet but still a hard worker. Panarin is definitely fun to talk to. Fun fact, Kucherov split the puck in half on a wrist shot that beat me but hit the post.

Do you know Marcus Kallionkieli?” This is a Finnish Brazilian drafted by Vegas at the last NHL draft.

Yes of course! A great hockey player, I heard about him when he started playing for Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL. As far as I know, he wanted to play for the national team, but it did not work out, because our tournaments are usually held during the season of play for his team. He would be a great addition to the national team. It’s great to see a Brazilian hockey player who is drafted in the NHL.

Marcus Kallionkieli was selected by Vegas in the 5th round under 139th number

When will we see the Brazil national team at the IIHF World Hockey Championships?

It is definitely a dream for us to come true, and I believe Brazil could be part of it if ice hockey keeps growing in the country. One of the rules for a nation to compete at the IiHF World Championship is for that country to have an official ice rink  which disqualifies Brazil unfortunately. Recently, though, an ice rink with hockey capabilities was just inaugurated a few months ago in Sao Paulo, but I don’t know if that rink would qualify us. We have played against Mexico, that played Div II IIHF tournaments. Hopefully we will play it at some point.

Team photo of Brazil National Team

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