By Martin Merk – IIHF.com
THE MEN’S ROSTER
“We have plenty of creative players there. We wanted to mix it so that there would be youth, experience, creativity and quick legs. With the game system and the team, we wanted to get closer to the modern style of hockey,” said General Manager Miroslav Satan.
Defenceman Dominik Granak will be the most experienced player on the roster with 175 national team games. 30-year-old Ladislav Nagy is the oldest on the roster, 21-year-old forward Matus Sukel the youngest.
14 players join from the Czech Extraliga and ten from the Slovak Extraliga. A bit surprisingly Michal Cajkovsky of Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg is the only Slovak player in the Kontinental Hockey League who was named to the Olympic team.
Among the KHL omissions are Severstal Cherepovets goalie Julius Hudacek and players from the Slovak KHL team Slovan Bratislava such as Andrej Meszaros, Michal Repik and Marek Viedensky. Slovan currently has one of its worst seasons since joining the KHL and is fourth from bottom in the 27-team cross-border league. That may be one of the reasons the coaching staff is counting on players from elsewhere. Another may be the more North American style of play the new head coach Craig Ramsay wants to implement.
“This is definitely one of the most difficult things I have done in the few years I’ve been in hockey. I never had any preconceived emotions when I came here. I had to learn the players, meet the players, watch them play in their home teams. We took them through eight games. We had a pretty good response from our players. I didn’t come in with a plan who is going to play and which league they are in,” Ramsey said at a press conference in Bratislava.
“We have good players, they play hard, they did a good job for us. We agreed to take the players who showed the best, who try to do what was asked and we’re very pleased with our group. The players who come from the Slovak league deserve to be in. They surprised me, they have no trouble keeping up the pace. We plan to play a game that is up-tempo with more speed to our game. I really enjoyed the games I watched in the Slovak league. I think the kids played really hard and more of a North American style of the game and I thought this is going to fit to the game I want to play, that I enjoyed playing and that I enjoy coaching.”
For Ramsey it’s about the future and implementing a game system in the Slovak national team program. The future is represented by a couple of new faces especially in the offensive department. Milos Bubela, Michal Kristof, Patrik Lamper, Matej Paulovic and Matus Sukel all have played less than ten national team games so far and only exhibition games until now.
Despite that the team will have some experience. With an average age of 29 years the team will be older in average than in the past four World Championships.