About the League
2019 U18 IIHF World Championship will take place in two Swedish towns Örnsköldsvik and Umeå from April 18th to April 28th. Russia will face Slovakia, Latvia, USA and Sweden in round robin. Junior Hockey League media relations department spoke to Team Russia players shortly before the tournament.
Yegor Spiridonov, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk forward
“Stalnye Lisy ended their season a lot earlier than we had planned – we got eliminated in the opening round of Kharlamov Cup Playoffs,” says Spiridonov. “We rested for a couple of days and then went back to hard practices. When we found out with Dmitry Sheshin that we were going to be called up to U18 Team Russia, our coaching staff adjusted practices for the whole team. You can say that everybody adjusted their routine for us so we could be better prepared for the camp in Novogorsk.”
– This is going to be your second U18 IIHF World Championship in your career. Last year you competed with Team Russia in Chelyabinsk.
– I still feel a little nervous as I do before every big tournament. But I don’t feel nervous as much as I used to. I’m not the only guy on Team Russia to compete at the second consecutive U18 World Championship. Vasily Podkolzin was also on the team in Chelyabinsk. We weren’t successful at that world championship. But it still was a good experience.
Things like that happen. We share our experience with other guys. We mostly give them advice on certain organizational moments. Sometimes we explain the regulations to them because the rules are a bit different from those we’re used to. But other guys have stuff to share as well. For example, Yaroslav Likhachyov, Nikita Sedov and Daniil Guschin came to the camp from North America. We talk a lot and they tell us about American junior leagues. So you can say we exchange our experiences.
Vladislav Tretiak visited us before we went to Sweden and gave us parting advice. He wished us luck and said that the whole country is going to follow us, and that we have a chance to win. Our goal as always is to win gold. This year it’s not the home world championship for us but it doesn’t mean there’s less responsibility.”
Yaroslav Askarov, SKA-Varyagi St. Petersburg goaltender
“We spent the first few days of the camp in the gym and worked on improving our physical aspects. Then we started working on our tactics. We practiced special team situations,” says Askarov. “Everybody came to the camp after Junior Hockey League regular season and the playoffs. But most of the guys played only in the opening round. For example, after SKA-Varaygi got eliminated I practiced with SKA-1946 and was their backup goaltender in the series against Almaz [Cherepovets] but I never played a game. So I had a month off from my last game in JHL and first exhibition game with Team Russia. I only practiced so it wasn’t that difficult for me to switch from practicing with my team to practicing with Team Russia.
We played VHL’s Khimik [Voskresensk] as part of our preparation for the tournament. Vasily Podkolzin scored the only goal for our team in the game. He’s our captain and leader. In the end, we gave up the game in the final minutes and then lost in the shootout. We weren’t in optimal physical conditions in that game and things weren’t going well for us, especially given the workload. It was useful to see what we needed to improve. That far-from-perfect game motivated us to work harder. That game showed that our team needs to be more aggressive, capitalize on our chances and get some net presence.
– What did the team do in its spare time?
– We went on excursion to Patriot Park on our day off. We got to see military equipment, tanks and so on. There was also an exciting interactive part of the museum where you could feel what it’s like to be a tank commander via simulator.
– At the 2014 IIHF World Championship Team Russia got to ride a real tank at a similar museum in Minsk. Russia went on to win gold after that.
– No, we didn’t get to ride a tank. Just the simulator (laughs).