About the League
Slovan junior team head-coach Miroslav Mosnar talks about the competition between players in Slovakia, level of MHL players and his impressions on Junior Club World Cup.
- Mr. Mosnar, what are your impressions on the 2016 Junior Club World Cup in Tatarstan?
- We’re very happy to be here and represent Slovakia at such a serious international tournament. We can’t say anything negative about the organization and the fans here a great and very loud.
- Tell us how did you get into hockey.
- Bratislava is my hometown. That is where I spent most of my playing career. I began my professional career in HC Topolcany located in a Western Slovakia town. After that I returned to Bratislava and overall I played nine seasons for Slovan with short intervals. I finished my playing career in 2006 and started coaching almost right away. This is my fifth year as Slovan junior team head-coach. We are reigning champions of Slovakian junior league. Junior Club World Cup is a new level for us. The guys constantly learn something new and our coaching staff has a few things to learn as well.
- What brand of hockey do you like the most and what are the elements that you make your team work on?
- I like when my team plays aggressive hockey and is in constant motion. You can notice that if you watch Junior Club World Cup games. Besides, other teams also play aggressive hockey, make very decisions very quickly and it’s a great experience for my time. At practices we always work towards making quicker passes, shots and speed. If you don’t do it, you’re going to get scored on one goal after another.
- So far you’ve faced three MHL teams – Snezhnye Barsy, Reaktor and Loko. How did you like the teams?
- Having played these teams, we understood how strong is Russian junior league. Nevertheless, we still could have won those games. In the first game our opponent offered us fast-paced hockey right away and if we managed to keep up with it at first, then our hockey players got tired and they had trouble keeping up with their opponents. Loko showed a play of a true champion. They deserve to be called the best MHL team. So far our best game at the tournament was against Jokerit. Even though we lost, our guys battled well.
- Tell us about current affairs of junior hockey in Slovakia. How high is the level of national junior championship in your opinion?
- It’s a good league, especially for Bratislava – a lot has changed since Slovan joined KHL. It’s a lot more difficult for junior players to crack the professional team roster, competition got tougher and the players have to demand more of themselves. Junior Team Slovakia plays in Extraliga, while U18 Team Slovakia plays in the junior league. These two projects gather 40 players from other teams every year, which doesn’t do a lot of good for average level. But tournaments like Junior Club World Cup should help us get stronger and set the bar a little higher for other Slovakian junior teams.
- How do attendance numbers look?
- I think this situation we’re in is not very different from other countries. Slovan draws large crowds for Kontinental Hockey League regular season games and a lot less people come to junior team games but it also depends on how far into the season it is. Playoff games, including the final series, draw 2,000-2,500 fans. It’s not a bad number but we still have to improve it.
- There are Russian players on Slovan – Artyom Alexeyev, Yegor Baranov and Daniil Dmitriev. How do you like working with them?
- They are very hard-working players. They always want to keep improving and develop to a completely new level. This is Artyom’s second year with Slovan. He’s a very hard-working player. Daniil and Yegor just joined the team this year. Hopefully, it’s going to be fun for them to play for Slovan and they will get the necessary experience in the upcoming season.
- What does participation in Junior Club World Cup mean to your team and to you personally?
- It’s a great tournament and a great school not only for the players but also for us coaches. I think it’s the best junior tournament in Europe, which attracts the best teams representing their countries. I spoke to my players and every one of them told me how much this trip meant to them. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn something new and try what he’s capable of in the real deal. So I would like to thank Russia for organizing this tournament and for inviting Slovan to participate in it.