“We saw proof that Junior Hockey League players are capable of cracking KHL lineups”. Alexander Guskov comments on the start of 13th JHL season

Interview
04.09.2021 в 09:00
“We saw proof that Junior Hockey League players are capable of cracking KHL lineups”. Alexander Guskov comments on the start of 13th JHL season
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Kontinental Hockey League president of junior hockey development Alexander Guskov spoke about how the league fared in the off-season, schedule changes, new teams and success of Junior Hockey League players on Team Russia of various age groups.

- What’s your take on the off-season that just ended? What difficulties did you encounter during your preparation for Junior Hockey League 13th season?
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The main changes were concerned about our schedule. We worked a lot on it. This season Junior Hockey League added two more teams, which means we have extra 124 games. We took into consideration arenas’ schedules, as well as KHL and VHL schedule and were able to create a well-balanced schedule. We also took into consideration HK Riga interests. Team Latvia will compete at Division A World Juniors.

- How did inspecting of arenas go?
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There is a technical rulebook. The league inspects junior teams’ arenas and monitors the situation of decreasing the number of technical issues so that every arena would match the necessary rules. Prior to the season we took a look at every arena. Several teams had certain issues and we informed that it should be fixed. There is a fine for not following our instructions.

- What is the situation with attendance? How will the fans be admitted to the rinks in different regions?
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We are in constant dialogue with local ministries and look to increase the number of fans permitted to come to the rinks. But we have to understand that the situation varies from region to region and the number of fans allowed to the rinks is set by local government.

- There are new Junior Hockey League members this season. JHC Molot Perm and Loko-76 Yaroslavl joined Eastern Conference. What do you expect from these teams?
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Let’s talk about Yaroslavl first. Local junior hockey school produces a lot of talented hockey players. Many of their alumni play in KHL. To put a second Yaroslavl team in Junior Hockey League was the club’s initiative and we supported it. The players, who will compete for Loko-76 in Junior Hockey League, won NJHL championship title last season. Second Junior Hockey League team from the town is an opportunity to see more of local talent. Perm is also a hockeytown with a great junior hockey school program. We are happy to see a team with such profound traditions to return to our league. Matvei Michkov, who led the league in goals and was named rookie of the season last year, was born and began playing hockey in Perm. Now Perm boys will have an opportunity to improve their skill in Junior Hockey League just like a guy from their hometown did.

- Kazakhstan teams will not participate in the league’s 13th season. What did you make the decision?
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We were constantly in touch with Snezhnye Barsy [Nur-Sultan] and Altay [Ust-Kamenogorsk] but in the off-season they informed us that they wouldn’t participate in the season. Epidemiological remains pretty difficult so we took the news with understanding.

- Several Junior Hockey League players made their debut for KHL teams in the off-season. Michkov played for SKA St. Petersburg, Blednov – for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, Kvochko – for Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Should we expect a lot of JHL players to make their KHL debut this season?
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Last season we saw proof that many Junior Hockey League players are capable of cracking KHL lineups. We expect that this season our players will get a chance to prove their worth’s on men’s level. It’s also going to depend on club strategies and readiness of coaching staff to put their trust in young players.

- U18 Team Russia won Hlinka/Gretzky Cup for the second consecutive time. Most of the players represented Junior Hockey League. How did you like the tournament and Russian youngsters?
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It was great to see Junior Hockey League players to make up the core of U18 Team Russia. To participate in a tournament of such great status is a serious test for any young player and JHL players proved they were worth of it. Our team looked strong and was creative. Matvei Michkov, Ivan Miroshnichenko, Ilya Rogovskyi and Ilya Kvochko looked great. I enjoyed to see many of these young players were able to compete at international level, dangle, engage in physical battles and make themselves noticed by unorthodox moves. This proves that we’re headed in the right direction and we have a great generation of players coming up.

- There were 26 Junior Hockey League representatives on U20 Team Russia at Sochi Hockey Open. How important is it for these young players to compete against KHL teams?
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It’s definitely a great experience for these young players, especially prior to the upcoming new season. Participation of KHL teams in the tournament gives Team Russia coaching staff weigh in on their players’ chances of making the World Juniors team. As for the players, they have a chance to see the level of their readiness at the moment and understand what they need to get better at. Fyodor Svechkov and Nikita Chibrikov scored two goals each, while goaltenders Dmitry Nikolayev and Yaroslav Askarov got great experience. The games proved that our junior team is already ready to take on serious opponents and be equally good. It is very important to compete at international level and develop within club structure.

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