Team West will face Team East again in the 10th annual JHL Challenge Cup in January. Coaches of both teams have commented on the upcoming game.
Alexander Savchenkov (SKA-1946 St. Petersburg), head-coach
“I was very happy when they announced that I was going to be the head-coach of Team West at the JHL challenge Cup. JHL managing director Alexei Morozov explained to me the details of the game and told me to put together a team. I think my experience with U16 Team Russia will help me in this regard.
“I’m going to be assisted by Andrei Potaichuk. I have a lot of respect for him. His team is in a tough situation right now. Krylia Sovetov [Moscow] have a team only in JHL and yet they’re able to achieve good results, which speaks highly of him as their head-coach.
“It’s great to come compete again for Challenge Cup. Back in 2010 I was a member of Team West coaching staff in the first installment of the tournament. I remember that we had a very good team. Many of the guys - for instance, Nikita Gusev – have found success in the KHL.”
Andrei Potaichuk (Krylia Sovetov Moscow), assistant coach
“It’s very prestigious to participate in such an important JHL event as the Challenge Cup. It’s going to be an exciting experience to see the top players of the league in action. There are a few players on Krylia Sovetov who deserve to play in this game but I’m not going to disclose their names right now.
“Besides, the game will be hosted in Nizhnekamsk. I worked with Neftekhimik just two years ago. I remember the town by its kind people. I remember how they made us feel welcome at the club’s baza. They staff was excellent over there. The atmosphere at the arena was tremendous and I’m glad to come back to the town. On top of that Andrei Viktorovich Nazarov and Igor Zinonovich Petrov still work over there. It’ll be fun to talk to them if they’ll find the time.
“Alexander Savchenkov and I are Krylia Sovetov alumni. We played together on the same team, back when Krylia Sovetov were among the top clubs of the country. I’ve never worked with him as a coach but I’m certain there won’t be any misunderstandings between us.”
Alik Gareyev (Tolpar Ufa), head-coach
“Looking back at the Challenge Cup that was hosted in Ufa, I can say that these games are almost tightly contested. There were a lot of talented guys in that game who now play in the KHL. 2018 Kharlamov Cup Finals showed that Team West usually rely on aggressive style and great skating. Perhaps, this is why West have won more JHL Challenge Cups. In any case, we’re going to try to change the tendency.
“We are currently getting in touch with Eastern teams, trying to figure out our roster. Although, not everything depends on me. Many guys play for KHL teams so we’re going to have to adjust our roster in this regard.”
Vyacheslav Kasatkin (Reaktor Nizhnekamsk), assistant coach
“It was great to get the invitation from the league to participate in the Challenge Cup. Especially, because the game is going to be held in Nizhnekamsk on our home ice and in front of our fans. It’s the second time that the town gets to host JHL Challenge Cup. There was a great pre-game show and the game itself was pretty exciting the first time – the guys really battled for the cup. Maybe one day we should introduce the Skills Competition as well just like they do at KHL All-Star games. Just to see how the fans going to like it.
“I’ve known Alik Gareyev for a long time. We’ve played against each other for many years now. We talk to each other after the game so I think we’re going to do well.”
Nizhnekamsk will host JHL Challenge Cup for the second time. The game will also be a part of All-Star Week festivities, which are going to take place in January in the Republic of Tatarstan, for the third time. Four top players of the Challenge Cup game will be get the opportunity to participate in KHL All-Star Game.
Team West has a solid all-time lead against Team East in JHL Challenge Cup games. Western Conference won seven games in nine years, while Eastern Conference won just twice.