Category: Interviews (page 1 of 6)

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

Matt Dalton: “Naturalization is good, but it needs to be controlled”

Matt Dalton at Anyang Hall

By Maxim GarashchukNational Teams of Ice Hockey

The best goalkeeper of the Division IA World Championships in Kazakhstan in 2019, the Korean hockey player who plays for Anyang Hall and the South Korean national team Matt Dalton gave an interview to NToIH and talked about himself and whether foreign hockey players should be invited to the national teams.

Why did you choose the position of goaltender?

I choose the position because when I was younger our goalie on our team got injured and he could not play anymore. So our team rotated goalies each game. When I got to play I actually did really well, and I really enjoyed it. So the next season I decided to switch full time. I also always loved the goaltender equipment.

What would you be if you hadn’t become a hockey player?

This is a very good question that I cannot answer immediately. When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a hockey player. I thought it was possible and therefore did not even think about other options. I grew up in a farming family and, probably, if my hockey career had not worked out, I would now be working in a something related to farming.

 Did you have the opportunity to stay in the USA and try to break into the NHL after the 2010/11 season? Why did you decide to leave for Europe?

Yes, at the end of the season I could have stay in America, but I received an offer to play in the KHL. I spoke with some players who already had experience this league and they told me that this is a good opportunity to play at a high level of hockey.

How were you invited to play in the KHL?

We had a skills coach in Providence that was from Russia when I was playing there. I got to be friends with him and we were always working after practice. I asked him one day if there was a chance I could go to Russia and play. He helped me and got me a chance to go and play there.

Matt Dalton played for Neftekhimik 2012/13 season

Which Russian cities do you remember most?

I would have to say the cities where I played – Nizhnekamsk and Podolsk. Among others I will single out Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Novosibirsk and Kazan.

The most difficult opponent to play against in the KHL?

Perhaps this is SKA.

Tell me about the offer to play for Korea?

“I meet a Korean in London, Ontario.” His name is Steve Beak, he runs a skills hockey program called BK Hockey. In the off season, he and I skated together. Once Steve told me about the opportunity to play in South Korea, and the to get a Korean passport and play for the national team. This was a very hard decision to make but I called a few players that were already playing over there to talk about what hockey life was like and everything they said was positive so I thought I would try it.

Did you think that if you stayed in Canada you could now be the main goalkeeper of the national team?

Honestly, no. It so happened historically that we have a good history with goalkeepers. I really respect all the guys from Canada who are now playing in the NHL.

You have a child. Does he enjoy hockey and what do you see in his future?

Yes I have a 3 year old son. He is just starting to get interested in hockey and really enjoys watching me play and also watching hockey on TV. I hope that he will become a great right handed defence man hahahhaha.
But really I hope that he has passion and love for the game like I do and that he wants to play hockey as he grows up. I will really enjoy watching him follow his dreams.

Matt Dalton with his son

Do you talk at home with your family about past games?

It happens sometimes. Usually, right after the game, I talk with my dad and my wife. I do not try to talk about it the next day. I used talk more about game but now i try not to focus to much on past games and just live in the moment as much as possible

In the Asian Hockey League next season a new team will appear. How will this affect the championship?

I think it’s great for the league. They are located in a good city and it will be easy to get to it. I hope that the team is competitive , but I believe that, like any other new club, it may take them several years for them to build there team up.

You have been to many cities and countries. What places do you remember most and why?

This is a difficult question, since I have been to so many beautiful places. One of my favorite cities is Prague. They are very friendly people and very good food. Prague is an historical city, so tourists will definitely be interested in visiting there. I have been there several times with my team and I have only positive impressions about this city. I would also mention Moscow, I just love the city, there is always something to do and thins to see.

Is there a country that you would like to visit in the future for the first time?

I have never been to the UK, but I think I will like it there. All my ancestors came from there and it would be great to go and look at this counties. There is so much history between all of them and it would be very interesting for me. I really enjoy history.

The Asian League season was interrupted in the final matches. How frustrating  was that?

Yes this is very frustrating that we had to cancel the rest of the finals. But I also understand why it was done. It makes me feel good that they were concerned about everyone’s health. But it is a pity that we could not finish.

How did you get No. 86?

In the summer they called me and asked what number I wanted. I said I want No. 30, but it was unavailable . Then I thought and decided that I could take No. 1. but it turned out that number was also unavailable. Then I wanted choose No. 86, because that was the year I was born in 1986, he turned out to be free and so happened that from that moment I play under this number.

“You always had helmets painted.” Which helmet design do you like most?

I think this is the helmet in which I play for the South Korean national team. It depicts Sun-Shin who is a hero in Korean for what he was able to do on the battle field.

Matt Dalton helmet in South Korea match

How do you feel about naturalization?

I think that it is great but it also has be controlled. I also feel that the naturalized players need to be playing for the right reason and have pride for the team that they are playing for. I think that it has really helped some countries for hockey and elevated there level of play. Which has given players more experience then they would of gotten. I think that it can help some players with someone to talk to about their experience in hockey. I think that most countries are very responsible when it comes to this situation so I feel like it is a positive for the game of hockey and it can help grow the game.

At the World Championships in Kazakhstan, you became the best goalkeeper. What does this title mean to you?

This is a great honour there was many great goalies at this tournament so to get this award was a great honour and I was happy to show that I can still play at a high level.

Matt Dalton – the best goalkeeper of the 2019 Div IA World Cup in Kazakhstan

Did you like Kazakhstan as a whole?

Yes I did, our hotel was great and also the facilities and the ice rink were first class. It was a great experience and our team had a good time. I had been to the city many years before and played in the old ice rink. It is a very beautiful city.

What is the difference between Asian, European and North American leagues?

This is a difficult question. I have been playing in Asia for a long time and it is difficult to compare their league with others. In the Asian Hockey League, players are very experienced and fast. Hockey players from other countries come to Asia every year, which makes local players develop and become better.

“Which forwards don’t you like?”

There are no forwards that I don’t like, but there are those whom I do not like to play, against as they are very strong on the ice and can embarrass you.

Where are you now and how do you spend your free time?

 Now I am in the small Canadian town of Grand Bend. Here I spend time with the family during the off-season. I spend most of my free time working on our house and yard. I try to play golf and fish when the weather allows me to do so.

You have a lot of pictures from fishing. What was the biggest catch in your memory?

Probably, I caught salmon weighing 24 pounds.

Matt Dalton Catch of the day

Maksim Laptev: “Serbs are still Freaks

By Vitali Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Russian hockey player Maksim Laptev gave an interview to NToIH and talked about why he left Novosibirsk for Serbia at the age of 17 and why Serbia is the best country for playing hockey, despite the fact that he played in Finland.

About yourself?

I was born on December 14, 1994 in Novosibirsk. I’m also a pupil of Siberia, I spent all my childhood there until the age of 16-17. In 2011, I was at a summer camp in Novosibirsk. Since many in our city already played in Serbia, I received an offer to go play in the Hungarian championship. One Russian hockey player wrote to me saying If I want to play in Serbia. I gave my consent, and he gave my consent to Alex Andjelic (trainer in Serbia). Alex wrote to me on Facebook. The team was based in Serbia in Novi Sad. They provided everyone an apartment, three meals a day, a salary of 300 euros. Plus, tickets to Serbia, a Russian school, equipment, and so on. In general, I want to go and play. What could I think I was 16 years old? Live alone in chic conditions, play hockey and get paid. My Parents were shocked, of course, from the fact that I decided to leave. but I really wanted it and therefore made a decision. Four other Russian players left with me.

We had a very strong coaching staff – Alex Andjelic was the head coach, Daniel Cuomo and Danny Peters were assistant coaches.

First Season in Serbia?

When I came to ice rink for the first time, it seems so easy to play, for me because Serbians are not technical and are not fast. They were the best players from all country.  We were given a task has a mission was to help Serbian players.

After years these Serbian players successfully perform in different leagues. The atmosphere was great and because of 5 Russian players, “they helped me to”. The club management was happy with the outcome of the season. We went to play-offs, we went two rounds.

After the season I went to Finland. I wanted to grow up as a player, I wanted to play in a where hockey was very popular. And of course money was the one of reason to come to Finland.

Text from Alex

 

Career in Finland?

My first Finnish team Et-Po 72, I had good experience with adult hockey players I would play with them and gain experience. The league where I played consisted mainly of hockey players who came home to play for their local club at the end of their careers. but some clubs also had higher paid players – they would buy players. After two seasons in Et-Po 72, in the 14/15 season I moved to the Lyamarit team from a higher division. The league was better there, since the Lapland region is the strongest in Finland, they are all teams on the same level. It was interesting, a good training process and competition, but in Lyamarit it was not possible to spend a full season, as I received a shoulder injury at the beginning of the season. Then I moved to another club – TIHC. This was the best club at that time, and they won the title that same year, but without me, because they refused my visa. Therefore, I had to look for something in the middle of the season and I received an offer from “Red Star” to play in the Slovenian championship. (For two seasons in Lyamyarit and TIHC Maxim played 11 matches, scored two goals and gave up two assists)

Maksim was part of Lyamyarit

Pros and cons of hockey in Serbia

The advantages of Serbian hockey is the thrill of life and playing in Serbia. You enjoy life and do what you love. It is warm there, summer cafes, restaurants, beautiful girls, nightlife – this is the best, probably from all the countries where I have been. Well, people, of course, are very fraternal to Russians.

Of the minuses, of course, is the lack of ice and stadiums. They don’t have ice in the summer and the guys do not train on ice 5-6 months after the end of the season.

In fact, there is no Serbian championship, the only two teams – “Red Star” and “Vojvodina”. they were always interested more in the Slovenian league, and the Serbian league exists only for IIHF requirements. This is necessary for the IIHF to have a team for the Continental Cup and a team for the World Championships.

About Serbian citizenship?

Initially, as soon as I arrived, I received an offer to make a passport. I started the registration process, I was busy with all the papers, but then I went to play in Finland and everything stopped. This year they called me and asked me to send all my documents to complete the process with my passport. I think everything would be ready for the World Championships. I didn’t ask this question much, because I was focused only on my team in France.

About a career in France

After “Red Star” I played two seasons in “Vojvodina”. In May 2018, I had knee surgery, the recovery was a long time, and I missed the summer camp. If you didn’t pass the training camp with the team in the summer, then it’s hard to get in shape and join somewhere in the middle of the season.  In November, only my agent wrote to me that there was an offer from Sweden and France. I understood that the main thing now is to play somewhere and get in shape and I chose France. They were given very good training, and I am happy to be here. Reims is a good city, and the club itself has a huge history and the have highest goals that we completed this year – we went up from the fourth division to the third.

Maksim as a member of Reims

The best season for hockey in Serbia?

I don’t know about there history, but everything turned out well in one year, that they won three championships. From the U20 team I know that many guys played outside of Serbia – in the championships of Hungary, Slovenia. Plus they have a very good trainer from Canada, Fred Perone.

And the national team held the World Championships at home. This is also a plus. I hope that in Serbia everything will improve for the better (In 2019, the Serbian national teams won tournaments in all their divisions: adult IIA, youth IIB and junior IIB, and 19-year-old striker Marko Dragovic was the only player who participated in all these tournaments)

Interesting fact?

Serbians are the freaks , It was my first season for “Vojvodina”. We played at some tournament for 2 days. I told my coach “I don’t want to play, I want to rest”, but on the second day he called me and said: “Come on, we need to win this tournament. I send a car for you”. In our team we had a lot of Serbians and a little bit Canadians. They were so weird. They do anything on the ice, but they can’t shoot.

 

Kirill Lodeikin: “I am glad that I play for Estonia”

Kirill Lodeikin in the national team of Estonia under 20 years old at the World Championship in Division IIA

By Maxim Garashchuk – National Teams of Ice Hockey

19-year-old forward of the Estonian and New Jersey Rockets team Kirill Lodeikin, who became the best sniper at the last World junior Under 20 Championship in IB division, spoke about why most Estonian players go to play in Finland, as he received an invitation to the Finland national team and why he didn’t play for them.

Why do many hockey players playing in the Estonian national team go to the Finnish leagues?

Finland is very close to Estonia. Most players go there to gain experience, which in the future will lead them to professionals.

What do you think, which of the current national team players stands out for in this game?

I can’t name specific players, but I’ll say that good youth players is growing now. Definitely, they will be able to raise the level of men’s hockey program in Estonia.

If you compare Estonia with other neighboring countries, then what place do you put Estonia in and why?

In the first place among the Baltic countries I will put Latvia. They still have a very strong team, which has Dynamo Riga club. I will put Estonia in second place, because now we are showing a completely different hockey than before. I do not want to say anything bad about Lithuania. I will put them in last place, although I think that they are on the same level with us.

Tell me why you decided to connect your life with hockey? In which country did you first skate?

I started hockey at 4 years old. Of course, I tried myself in other different sports, but I never caught the buzz from the game, except for hockey. From the first time I went ice skating in my hometown of Narva, Estonia.

What languages ​​do you know?

I speak Finnish, English, Russian and I don’t speak Estonian, but I understand him, because he is very similar to Finnish.

 In Finland, you played not only in one system. How did your transitions to other clubs affect your career?

In fact, the transitions was hard. When I played for Jokerit, I really liked it there and taught me a lot. The transition from “Jokerit,” to another club was not at my request. In general, transitions are always difficult, when you yourself are satisfied where you play, and suddenly you are exchanged.

Last season you spent time in the USA. What difference immediately struck you?

The hardest is the size of the ice rink. All my life I played on big ice and suddenly switched to small, it was inconvenient, but then I got used to it. In America, it’s completely different hockey than in Europe. I like to play with my head, but, unfortunately, they play there at the expense of foot speed, I dumped the puck in and you skate in after it.

If you believe the statistics, then in the USA you have only 6 minutes in penalties in 37 games, given that in past seasons it was much more. What changed?

“I don’t like breaking the rules.” I understand that I’m letting my team down by removing myself from the game and that now the guys will have to take the game on themselves and there is a chance that the opposing team will score. In the USA, I played under different rules of hockey, the refs let a lot things go on the ice.

“Do you know about successful New Jersey Rockets graduates?”

Honestly, who was specific, I don’t know, and somehow there was no interest in this. (As part of the “New Jersey Rockets” in the seasons 2005/06 and 2006/07, performed by John Carlson – Stanley Cup in 2018 as part of “Washington Capitals”) . Now I know that Luke House and Ryan Sorkin, who played in the rink with me, have signed contracts with teams from the NCAA.

Kirill Lodeikin in the USA

At the World Junior Championship division 1B you became the best forward, although there were players with experience in QMJHL on other teams. Did you expect the tournament to be so successful in terms of your individual statistics?

When I went to the World Junior Championship didivision 1B, I realized that I could play to my strength there, so I was ready for this in advance. Hard work always pays off, but at some point it can be a little bit of luck. Of course, I didn’t think much about statistics. The task was to remain in the division, and I tried to help the team with all my might to do this.

 In the game against Italy you scored a hat-trick. Did you score hat-tricks before and how many points did you score in one game?

Yes, before that I also score hat-tricks. It’s hard to say what my best score is in one game, but I remember for sure that I scored five points in one game.

Kirill Lodeikin recognized as the most valuable player in the Estonian national team after the match against the Italian national team in the World Junior Championship division IB

This year you played for the adult team. Did you manage to switch from youth hockey to adult?

The level in adult hockey is much higher than in youth. The game was completely different from what I was used to. I saw a lot of my shortcomings, and got a very huge and positive experience. (Kirill Lodeikin made his debut for the main team at the per-qualification of the Olympic Games 2022, in which the Estonian team suffered three defeats in three games. Kirill Lodeikin scored an abandoned goal against the Hungarian national team).

In the per-qualification for the Olympic Games, the national team included players from the local championship. What can you say about their game?

 I know that Dmitri Kuznetsov was called to the training camp at the last moment. He is a great fellow that came to the team. Each player tried to prove himself, because initially the head coach said that he wanted to see young players. I remember that in addition to him, there were Saveli Novikov – a defender playing for the Tallinn Viking and Harri Koll from his club (Harri Koll & Dmitri Kuznetsov play for Tartu Valk 494) , who also tried.

What was the atmosphere on team outside the rink? Indeed, in the national team there are players who are 20 years old, but there are those who are already over 40.

As I said earlier, the atmosphere was positive. Older players always prompted and taught young players some new things. Respect was there, both from the young to the older guys, and vice versa.

How often do you visit Estonia?

In Estonia, I have many close friends. It turns out that I go there once a year in the summer and even then not always. It all depends on my hockey season.

Who do you consider to be the best player in the history of Estonian hockey?

Many talented players were, are and will be. I don’t want to single out anyone.

How popular is hockey in Estonia? What is needed in order to increase the popularity of this sport in the country?

 In recent years, it has become more popular than it was before, and I am very happy about that. What needs to be done to make hockey even more popular? I think we need to win more medals for the country.

How do you usually spend your free time?

I usually try to spend free time with my family and friends.

“Are you studying somewhere now?” Is it difficult to combine hockey with study?

I study in Finland. This year was very difficult due to the fact that my school refused to give me online education. Because of this, I had to pause my studies, but now I have come back to Finland and am doing it.

“You have dual citizenship.” Can you play for the Finnish national team now?

Regarding the performance for the national team of Finland, it is now too late to speak. When I was 14 years old, I was invited to the training camp in the Finnish national team. It turns out like this: they call the 150 best players in Finland and play a tournament between the teams, the best players go on. Only 150 hockey players, then 100, then 50, and so on they slowly create a team, but at that time I did not have Finnish citizenship and I could not go. Then an invitation was received to the Estonian national team. I am glad that I play for Estonia.

Dmitri Kuznetsov (left), Eduard Slessarevski (center) and Kirill Lodeikin (right) as part of the Estonian U-20 team at the IIA World Junior Championship

What can you say about women’s hockey in Estonia and Finland?

 I do not follow women’s hockey. However, I know that in Finland they are almost as good as the male team, and as for Estonia, I hope that they will soon be playing to a new level.

Where do you plan to conduct pre-season training and is there a chance that we will see you next season in Finland?

 I always spend pre-season training in Finland. There is everything I need here, but I can’t say anything about the next season because of the difficult situation around the world related to the virus.

Johann Leifsson: “I fell in love with hockey at first sight”

By Maxim Garashchuk – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Forward of the Icelandic team “Skautafélag Akureyar”, Johann Leifsson talked about how he fell in love with hockey, what he does in his free time from and what is needed for the development of hockey in Iceland.

 How did it happen that I chose hockey?

 I was born in Akureyri and from an early age I became interested in hockey. For this I must be grateful to my mother. I started hockey at about 3 years old. My mom brought me to the ice rink with my older brother, who also playing hockey all ready. I fell in love with hockey at first sight.

What role did your move to North America play?

I left for the USA at the age of 18. For this, I have to give a big “thank you” to my coach from Iceland. He told me that he could help me move to North America. I was very excited, because Canada is a new country for me, and it was not clear how I would look against other players. I moved to the Niagara Fury ice hockey club it was just created at that time, and the league we played in lasted only one season, and for some season there, there were only two teams: us and Erie Blizzard. Before the start of the new season, “Erie” went into the MJHL league, and our “league” closed and the Niagara team was disbanded. But I learned a lot there and that season only benefited me. After a season I returned to the SA Vikingar.

What can you say about the season in Sweden? Are there any offers from other countries now?

The season in Sweden became a new challenge for me. I went there in 2015 to play for Motala AIF for the season. Sweden really helped me as a player and as a person to become better. I had a lot of fun playing there, we had a good team and we went to the playoffs, where we could get a promotion and move up to a higher division, but then we could not get into the higher division. We played in the second division. Now I have no offers to play in other countries, but if there are any, I will always consider them.

“What is it like to be an assistant captain and the captain yourself?” How many times in your career have you performed these duties?

I was the captain for only one season – 14/15 in the Skautafélag Akureyar. You should be proud of this, because the team trusts you and gives you the right to be a leader on the ice and off the ice. For many years I was an assistant captain in SA Vikingar. In Jotnarnir I tried to be a role model and help my teammates if they needed my help. The team had players who are older than me and definitely I learned a lot from them.

Tell me about hockey in Iceland?

We have one league, it has three teams: Björnin, Reykjavik and Skautafélag Akureyar, in which I play. We play against each other four games at home and four games away. It turns out that in all we have 16 games in the championship, half of which takes place on home ice. At the end of the regular season, the playoffs begin. In the playoffs, we play the best out five (three wins to win a series). There are only three ice rinks in Iceland: two in Reykjavik, one in the northern part of the country. The country is trying to build more ice rinks, but if this does not happen then it will be difficult to expand for new teams in the league.

Iceland has a club player development program, including Akureyar. This program is really good, but due to the large number of players, we are forced to say no to hockey players who are just starting their careers.

Andri Mikaelsson, Hafthor Sigrunarson and Johann Leifsson celebrate victory in the championship of Iceland

What is the most popular sport in the country? How popular is hockey? Do many fans go to hockey games?

Football is the most popular sport in Iceland, of course. Perhaps in second place is handball. Unfortunately, hockey is not so popular. You can say that hockey is more popular in my hometown than in Reykjavik. If we talk about attendance, then our team is the most popular in Iceland, but we only manage to completely fill the stands only in the playoffs.

At one time there was a huge stir after the success of the Icelandic national football team. Do you think it is possible with hockey?

Of course, it is possible that hockey can become popular, as was the case with football, and for this we should have even more skating rinks. This will lead to the emergence of new teams and new palyers, then we will have more games and we will be able to develop hockey in the country.

Was the success of the Icelandic youth hockey team a surprise to you?

“No, that didn’t surprise me at all.” We have young players with great talent. They just returned to the division in which they were supposed to play (Iceland U-20 won the IIHF ICE HOCKEY U20 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division III by defeating Australia in the final.

Do clubs pay salaries to players?

No, they don’t pay, but we don’t have pay-to-play either. Clubs get money for winning the championship, but none of this money goes to hockey players.

What do you do for work?

I work in a service center for children with special educational needs.

Are there many foreigners in the championship?

No. We had several foreigners on the team before, and last season we had no foreigners at all. In general, one Russian plays in the championship, there is a Latvian and there are a couple of hockey players from Europe.

What do you think is the best hockey player in the history of Iceland? Which of the young players can become a star?

“There are a few guys worth talking about.” Emil Alengård (11/19/1987) – is the best player who played in our team, he is an Icelander who has never played in Iceland, he grew up in Sweden and played his career there. He spent most of his time in the first division. Now he is training the junior team in AIK. In general we have players like him who play well in Sweden quite a lot. For example, Dennis and Robin Hedstrom, who both play a big roles on the national team they are 32 and 31 years old, respectively.

There are hockey players who played almost all the time in our native country – Iceland. Jon Gislason, I think, is at the top of this list for me. Mainly because he was the best when I followed the team and was the best when I joined the team and even now he is a cool manager. On ice, he is still one of the best when he joins our training. Jon also has experience playing in the Asian League and Denmark. Do not forget about Sigurdur Sigurdsson (02.24.1976). Everyone in my hometown who heard about hockey knows who Siggy, when foreign players join our team, usually Siggy helps them in everything. Sigurdsson best time was before I joined the team, and from the stories about him everyone says the same thing – he dominated the league. He also played in Finland before my birth.

Finally, the captain of our national team and he is the only player who played more than a hundred games in our league. (Ingvar Jonsson (02/11/1981). Ingvar played two seasons in Denmark, the rest of the time he spent in Iceland. Since I joined the team, he has been there all the time and this is really a big part of the success that we have achieved all these years. These 3 players Jon, Siggy and Ingvar were the key players of our club and I consider them the best Icelandic players who played here. has for young players we have some really talented young guys, most of whom are currently playing abroad. For example, Axel Orongan (01/31/2001), who had previously played in Sweden and the United States. My nephew Hakon Magnusson (02/11/2003) also plays in Sweden with another talented player – Unnar Runarsson (12/29/2002). Gunnar Arason (03.15. 2001) plays in Canada. These guys are now one of the best young hockey players in Iceland and in recent years they have played a big role in the success of the national teams under 18 years old.

In December, there was a qualification for the Olympic Games. What were your expectations when you knew your rivals?

Expectations were only good when we recognized our rivals. We used to play against them all. We did not expect such a bad game against Romania. Israel and Kyrgyzstan beat pretty easily (5: 0 and 9: 4, respectively)

You lost to Romania in the last game with a big score, although before that you played on equal terms with them. How can one explain such a result?

We have a young team. Romanians were better than us in all aspects of the game. Such a loss (10: 1) is really not the best way to end the Olympic Games, but sometimes it happens in hockey.

Johann Leifsson in Iceland in the match against Kyrgyzstan in the first round of Olympic qualification

Annually, Skautafélag Akureyari participates in the Continental Cup. What has this tournament done for the team? Which match do you remember the most and why?

I am very glad that teams from Iceland can take part in the Continental Cup. It helps us to become better, and also opens up the opportunity for young children to play abroad. Most of all I remember the games against HK Kurbads and HC Donbass in 2018. We were very close to beating HC Donbass, but in the last minutes they scored two goals on us within 25 seconds and we lost the chance of winning (in October 2018, Donbass beat Skautafélag Akureyari 6: 3, and Kurbads defeated the Icelanders 9: 2)

Alyson Baldwin – Russian girl adopted by an American family

By Vitali Nestrov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Alyson Baldwin is an ordinary American athlete. She gave many years to hockey, trained under the guidance of the Tretiak, almost got into the Russian Gararin Cup. Now she has moved away from hockey, went into power lifting and helps young North Americans in hockey. The history of the Russian American  Alison Baldwin – in our interview.

Tell me something about yourself?

I was born on June 5, 1997 in Dzerzhinsk (Nizhny Novgorod Region), but in December an American family adopted me and took me to the United States. The name at birth was Tatyana Kalashnikova. As I was told, my family already had a child and my parents could not provide one more, therefore it so happened that in December with the help of a woman from the USA who helps American families to adopt children from Russia I was adopted. My parents were grateful to this woman for help and I was named after her – Alison. That woman in the 90s helped many Americans. Another child was adopted with me. Now his name is Sean, and after some time his brother Trey  was adopted. Trey is the youngest in our family, my American parents do not have their children. As for my biological parents, I don’t know anything about them, I tried to find information about them on VKontakte, but nothing worked. My family said that they did not want to contact us.

You have a photograph on Instagram of the Russian “Stalin”. What kind of house is this and who made this photo?

This photo was taken by my American father in 1997. The photo shows an orphanage in Dzerzhinsk. Now he is gone.

Orphanage in Dzerzhinsk

How did your Russian origin affect your life in America? Maybe there were some difficulties in adapting?

“Adaptation was not a problem for me.” I was very young when I was adopted and I did not get into Russian culture. However, I still have Russian citizenship. I learned about Russia when I was in Latvia in 2012 in a goaltender camp and I made friends with goalkeepers who then played in the MHL, and now in the KHL and VHL. I have many friends from Russia. As for the Russian language, I myself learned to read, although there is still a lot to learn and learn.

Alyson (left) with her former teammate

How did you get started in hockey?

I started playing hockey in Houston, Texas. I was still very young. My dad, who adopted me, brought from Moscow a jersey of the Dynamo Moscow hockey team with number 20. My father never played hockey, none of my American family was connected with hockey when I started. I thought it was an interesting sport. We had a skating rink near my house and I went skating for fun. Hockey seemed insanely cool in my mind, and I liked it when I was little.

Tell us more about your hockey career?

“It will be a long time, get ready”. When I started, in 2006-2008 I was a forward. Then I began to play the goalkeeper position, because at that moment the boys on my team were stronger and faster than me, they did not give me a pass, they threw themselves at me,  and to stay on the team I decided to change my position. I played for the youth team in Houston, Texas. When I got a little older in 2009 I went to the Alliance Bulldogs hockey team in Dallas, Texas. It was a low level team. Then we moved on to the Dallas Stars Elite league, AAA-league. I played in Dallas until 2012. In 2012, I went to Riga to goaltending camp with the Tretiak and members of the FHR. This gave me the opportunity to meet new people and friends in Latvia and the goalkeepers of Russia.

In 2013-2014, I studied at the Ontario Hockey Academy, developed very well as a hockey player. I had a game in Minnesota against the Russian women’s Olympic team before the Sochi Olympics. Our team won 8-0, but I did not play in this game unfortunately. In 2014-2016, I studied and played at Kent School, on an elite school. We won twice won the championship. In 2016, I went to St. Petersburg to see the local Dynamo club, but I could not go to Dynamo, I had obligations to the Wisconsin Badgers. In 2016-2018 I played in there in the NCAA League. We played twice in the NCAA National Tournament, 2017 – 2nd place; and 2 times became WCHA champions.

Allyson with legendary Tretiak

What happened after 2018?

 I was not given the opportunity to play a lot. I had negotiations with several D3, NCAA teams, but not with the leagues above. No team wanted to give me a chance. I was upset, in Moscow, Dynamo St. Petersburg wanted me to come, provided that I had good statistics, but my team did not give me the opportunity to play. I left my team in 2018, worked in ordinary jobs until 2019. Last year, I returned to the University of Wisconsin and began to study international relations. Now I am studying international political and military relations, especially Russian-American relations and US foreign policy. Now I am seriously engaged in power lifting. I like to train, to lift weights, it is popular in Russia, so I felt happy again. I was disappointed that I worked very hard in hockey, and the coach told me that I’m not good enough. In power lifting, I train for myself, I know when I work out well. I like my role in hockey now. I give advice and help parents about which youth teams are good, where there are good hockey teams in high schools in the USA and Canada. I work with many goaltending coaches in the USA (Goalies Inc.), I organize camps. My good friend from Quebec moved to the United States with his family and worked for the North Korean men’s and women’s teams. Unfortunately, I can’t continue to play, but I found an opportunity to help young hockey players through my experience and continue my university education.

Do you already have experience participating in competitions in your new sport?

I started training in August 2019, after some time I went to my first competition and got 3rd place. Squats 110 kg, bench 62.5 kg and traction 135 kg. This month I qualified for a power lifting tournament at the US National,  but the coronavirus canceled our competition. This has given its difficulties.

Tell me an interesting story.

What is funny or interesting is that most American hockey players and youth are inspired by the game of 1980 against the USSR (“Miracle on Ice” – a match at the Olympics-80 in Lake Placid between the strongest USSR team and the US team assembled from college students. USA won 4-3.)

In my career, I had the opportunity to train with Tretiak, and I played for the team coached by Mark Johnson. He scored 2 goals on Tretiak in 1980. This is a special opportunity to train and play for two very respected hockey players – Tretiak and Johnson.

Dordrecht Lady Lions, The Netherlands

By Vitali Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Today we will tell you about an interesting women’s team from the country of tulips, bicycles and, of course, cupcakes with a specific filling.

The new season, which will begin after the coronavirus epidemic, will be the third in the history of this team. The club was founded before the season 2018 \ 2019 by the head coach of the team Stefan Collard. Almost all hockey players playing on this team have extensive experience playing on men’s teams. Some combine the game on Lady Lions and on teams with men.

We talked with three local hockey players who, one might say, are legendary in some respects. The interview was agreed by 25-year-old forward Zoe Barbier, 21-year-old defender Fleur Verhaar, veteran of the Dutch women’s hockey team, Lieke Boelhouwers as well as team coach Stefan Collard

Zoe Barbier, 25, Forward

Zoe kindly agreed to give an interview, and also addressed our subscribers with wishes.

About yourself?

“At 8 years old before hockey, I practiced judo. To be honest, I did not enjoy this sport, it was very boring. Mom advised me to choose another sport and I went to three free hockey classes in Dordrecht. From the first minutes I fell in love with hockey and decided to practice it.

At 10, my parents and I moved to Delft to another club called Zoetermeer Panters, where my whole childhood career passed. Here I just played with the boys (now men) and still play. When you play in a men’s team, you become stronger and faster. It helps a lot.

I’m 25% Indonesian, my grandmother is from there. But I consider myself more Dutch than Indonesian. ”

Zoe Barbier and Team Members

About the Swedish stage of your life?

“At 16, I went to Sweden to play with SDE club (Sweden’s strongest women’s league club). My friend played there and after graduating from school I wrote to her that I wanted to try my hand there. I arrived there for the training camp and they took me on the team. There I played for 2 seasons.

Naturally, the difference between women’s hockey in these two countries is enormous. In Sweden there are no joint training for boys and girls. On “Lady Lions” we do not train, so we play with guys. Girls play with men and boys in the leagues, starting from the second and ending with completely children’s teams. In Sweden, we trained four days a week and then we have two games in a row on the weekend. This is an unrealistic difference, but we are trying to raise the level of our hockey as much as we can. ”

Zoe Barbier in action against Poland

About the women’s championship of the Netherlands?

“Our women’s championship consists of 6 teams – Tillburg Trappers, East Side Devils, UNIS Flyers Dames, GIJS Racoons, Smoke Eaters and our team. 6 clubs – 6 cities. We have no playoff games, only a two-circle system. For a victory you get 2 points and for a draw – 1 point. There is no overtime in the championship, nor a series of shootouts.

Not so many people go to the women’s league games. The average amount of people is 50. But this is normal given the fact that hockey in the Netherlands is not popular.

We won our first championship and had every chance to take the second one, but in connection with the coronavirus the tournament had to be canceled. We are waiting for the start of a new season. In the Netherlands, shops, schools, and fitness rooms are now closed. But we still have coffee shops with “branded” muffins. It’s funny to watch a queue in a coffee shop where people keep their distance. The line stretches for 100 meters, it’s fun to watch. As for the use of marijuana by hockey players, I do not think that athletes use it. It’s clear that this is legal with us, but I can’t say that every resident of the country is indulging in this. ”

About Netherlands?

“My debut for the national team took place at the 2010 World Championships in Australia. At that time I was 15 years old. The situation turned out to be funny – in general, this championship was supposed to begin in April, when I was about to turn 16 years old. According to the rules, players under 16 cannot be declared. But since the championship was postponed from April to February, two days before my birthday (February 11), they made an exception and I was allowed to play. But on that team there was one hockey player who was 1.5 months younger than me. She was also allowed to play at that World Championships. Three weeks before the start of this year World Championships, the coach said that he was taking me to the national team, I was very happy.

We are allowed to go out on the condition that there will be a distance of one and a half meters between people. There is no panic as such, not all borders are closed. We go out only as needed. “

Netherlands national team – IB division champion in 2019

Fleur Verhaar, 21, Defender

“I started playing very late. I was almost 18 years old when I joined the Dordrecht Lions men’s team in Beer league. This league is amateur, it is for those who want to learn how to play. Our team has several girls who play there. And so I went. Before coming to Beer league, I just skated every winter and sometimes just played hockey for myself, but when I found out that it was possible to start playing hockey in the Netherlands, I decided to try it. On this team I learned the basics of hockey. Before that, I had not heard about the women’s team. And when it began to be created, I decided to go there too. I was glad to get there. From the first seasons, the women’s team set itself the highest goals and achieved them. I’ve been on the women’s team from the very beginning and now it will be my third season both on this team and in hockey in general ”

Fleur Verhaar with the champion cup

Lieke Boelhouwers 42, striker

About yourself

“I started skating in the early 80s, since I started walking. I watched the training of my two older brothers and was delighted with the process itself. I told my mother, “I also want to skate,” and she began to teach me how to skate. When I was 3 years old, my parents brought me a pair of skates from Russia and at 4 years old I went to hockey classes.

It so happened that already in 1989 I started training with the national team. And at that time I was only 12 years old. At 14 I already made my debut in the tournaments for the Netherlands – it was the European Championship in Denmark in 1991. From that moment I played at absolutely all world championships until 2013. 

The difference between hockey in the 80s and modern day hockey in the Netherlands?

“First of all, the difference in speed. Every year, hockey players became more and more faster. The second is, of course, the  technique. Modern hockey players are much more technical than hockey players of that time. Every year, IIHF organizes hold training camps where we train our skills. Third – the number of hockey players. In those days, there were very few girls playing hockey. “Other people said to me that girls shouldn’t play ice hockey. When I was a teenager everyone else including my teammates from the men’s team told me that I should play ice hockey and I needed to ice skate.”

Best career year?

“ I think the 2008 World Championships in Finland is my best tournament. I was really ready for this tournament physically and mentally. And even if the team played did not play in the best way (one victory over the Australians and four defeats.) At that time I was at my peak ”

Lieke Boelhouwers playing for Lady Lions

Stefan Collard, 45 years old, head coach

The founder of the Dordrecht Lady Lions team and its head coach Stefan Collard has extensive hockey experience. Stefan gave Netherlands hockey 20 years of his life, playing for teams from his native Utrecht, as well as taking part in junior and youth world championships in the 90s. In 2015, Stefan became the head coach of the Dordrecht men’s team, and three years later decided to create a women’s team.

About yourself?

“I devoted myself to playing hockey from the age of 3  to 41 years old. Now I play only for myself. I also played inline hockey at the highest level. The whole family plays hockey – three brothers and two children (the daughter of Stefan Kimberly Collard plays on “Lady Lions”) I also coached the
Netherlands U14 team for 8 years ”

Stefan collard give 20 years of his life to Dutch Hockey

Why did you create a women’s team?

“I decided to create a women’s team at a time when I coached the men’s Dordrecht. I did this so that the girls from the city together with the girls and women would study together and get more experience. I managed to conceive, because five of our young hockey players were called up to the junior team “

Interest in hockey in the Netherlands?

“Hockey is far from a popular sport in the country. There are two or three teams that get full areans. 20 years ago we had a lot more teams in our country than now. ”

Who is the best team in women’s hockey?

Heerenveen is strong. But our team in the first season became the champion. In the second season for ourselves, we also had every chance of winning, but the tournament had to be canceled due to coronavirus. In general, in two years we lost only one game, and that was only because we played nine players plus one goalkeeper. Without the coaching staff, without players from the national team. ”

Heerenveen women’s ice hockey club

Q & A With Armin Helfer

By Vitali Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The legendary Italian national team Armin Helfer gave an interview as an ex-hockey player, in which he talked about how he spent 20 years on the national team.

When did you decide to end your career?

 I was thinking about it already last summer: I was thinking about my future, and I had the opportunity to become a coach at Brunico, so I decided that this would be the last season as a player.

It turned out that the coronavirus ended your career earlier than you wanted …

It is very sad that it happened. It’s sad that it’s annoying, but the cancellation of the competition was the right decision, and now we all just need to sit and wait out the pandemic and return to hockey again.

For the last 4 years, you have devoted yourself to training players at Brunico. What does this mean for you and what, in your opinion, can you teach hockey players?

I really like working with young hockey players. I feel that they respect me, they see me as an example. I try to convey to them my passion for this sport, I try to improve their skills and come up with interesting exercises,  but it was difficult as I was a player and coach. Now I can fully concentrate only on coaching.

You had a wonderful 20-year career. How has hockey changed over the past twenty years?

I will say briefly: you play more – you leave less.

How has the national team changed during this time?

In 2000, there was a completely different team. Now we have more Italians in the squad, but it would be interesting to have a match between Italy 2000 and Italy 2020. 2000s players would make modern Italy look good. (lol)

What would be the fate of the national team at the World Championships in Switzerland?

Our team is close-knit and we could compete. Last year we were able to defeat Austria, and this year we could have beaten Kazakhstan.

Despite the fact that Italy is far from a hockey country, it is competitive every year and often plays in the elite and takes medals in IA. How do you explain this?

Each player who plays for the national team gives 100%. No matter where you came from, you are part of the team. We have incredible unity and all the same – you came to the national team from the local championship or from the top leagues of Europe. This is our advantage. We are working to be more united, we train harder, thereby improving our skills. We will never lose team spirit.

Armin Helfer played 20 years on the Italian National Team

The most pleasant memory during the games for the national team?

My goal against Hungary in overtime at the 2011 World Cup IA. Thanks to him, we entered the TOP division next year.

What about in the 2006 Olympics in Turin?

The participation in the Olympics is incredible. During the opening ceremonies, I saw my teammates cry, and I had goosebumps. I will never forget how I felt at that moment. I looked at the Olympic flame and recalled how I dreamed of being in it has a child.

You have been called up to the national team 20 years in a row. How could you stay at that level all this time?

When you play for the national team against the best players in the world, you yourself become better. You get a tremendous experience. Every year I got better. And when I left to play in Europe, I was already prepared to play. I grew up as a player and as a person.

Will we ever see you in another Italian form? (hint at the national team coach)

I wish I could.

Q & A With Dino Pasovic

By Vitali Nesterov – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Dino Pasovic gladly answered questions from our subscribers

How did you get into sports, and why did you choose hockey rather than bandy?

As a child, I loved sports. I loved football, hockey and more. After the war in Bosnia, several guys organized a hockey team. These guys were my neighbors, so I joined them. I immediately fell in love with hockey. Bandy is not in our country, so the choice.

When did Bosnia start playing ice hockey?

We started playing hockey in the summer of 2002. and a few months later we started the BiH Hockey League. We promoted hockey in the country through amateur tournaments.

Which club do you play for? Tell us about the championship of Bosnia & Herzegovina.

I am currently playing for the hockey club Medvjedi Sarajevo. In general, only four teams take part in the championship. But this is enough to obtain official status.

Are there indoor ice rinks in the country, is there a school for the development of hockey for children?

We need indoor skating rinks in every big city in the country. Also, the government does not provide enough support toward the game.

Dino Pasovic with a great save

How do hockey players prepare for the season?

Usually hockey players attend summer hockey camps throughout Europe, but now everything is closed due to the coronavirus. We are in self-isolation, doing it at home.
Before the World Championships, we are going abroad to play amateur tournaments. About 3-5 times a year we play in another country. This was a great way to prepare for the tournament.

Are there any professional hockey players?

All our players play at an amateur level, so there are no professional contracts, but we have a passion for hockey, and all our free time is spent on games and the development of hockey.

Which year was the best for you?

In 2003, at the World Championships, I became the best goalkeeper of the tournament. It was a great championship, we took bronze at that tournament. Another championship in 2015, I became the best player on the team. I had 85% save percentage,  in 6 games. I made 266 saves if I remember correctly.
The best game was probably in 2016 against Hong Kong. We won it, I made 32 saves out of 36 shots.

Express your opinion on the situation with the national team of Kyrgyzstan, which occurred in Abu Dhabi in 2019?

I do not support this way of selecting players. The team had only 4 domestic players, and all the other players were Russians. I do not see how the registration of foreign players contributes to the development of domestic hockey. In addition, the refs are not at the professional level that their foreign colleagues are, who Ref in Russia professionally, and they are not able to assess a particular situation objectively, they cannot adapt to the pace of the game. Thus, In Abu Dhabi there were many penalties and stoppage of play the games were hard and there was no way to play at full strength, had to exercise caution.
In no way do I support Foreign players on the national team, small hockey countries must develop their own youth programs, and over time the quality will come. (I Recall that there was a scandal at the 2019 World Championships in division 4 – the Kyrgyz national team was disqualified before the last match of the tournament Alexei Titov, who according to IIHF did not have the right to play in the tournament. The national team lost their victory at that World Championship because all 5 games were forfeit. The IIHF provided Kyrgyzstan with the opportunity to host Div IV in 2020, but the tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Dino Pasovic watches is defender up end the opponent

What would you choose: to become an NHL player or for Bosnia & Herzegovina to join the IIHF elite?

If Bosnia & Herzegovina joins the IIHF elite, it will mean that I play for some NHL club.

What Russian hockey players do you know?

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Yevgeni Nabokov, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sergei Bobrovsky.

Do you watch the KHL?

Oh sure. When I have time, I always watch the KHL. I prefer the SKA team.

The first part of your surname in Russian means “Pass”, that is, “Assist.” Why are you  a goalie with such a name?

(lol) Our languages ​​are similar. In Bosnian, the word “pas” also means “assist,” but that’s no reason to play Forward,  But this is a funny remark.

Do you like McDonald’s?

McDonald’s is delicious, but as an athlete I eat fast food only in the off-season. And in general in all McDonald’s are very tasty.

Bosnia & Herzegovina National Ice Hockey Team

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