Newcomer of Kyiv Capitals – Latvian defender Deniss Berdniks talked about how he received an offer to return to Ukraine, departure from our country on February 23rd, 2022, and also described the experience of performances in championships of other countries and shared his ambitions for this season.

Denis, you are one of the few legionnaires in this season of the Ukrainian hockey championship. Previously, you already had the experience of performing in our country. Tell me how the return option came about?

I suffered an injury in August, so I couldn’t train for a month. In September, I started getting in shape little by little and started looking for a team. I got a call from my current club and they asked to come. I didn’t think about the offer of Kyiv Capitals for a long time.

You say that you did not think for a long time. Nevertheless, what words did your relatives and friends say about your decision, considering the fact that there is a war going on in Ukraine?

Of course, my relatives were very worried and asked me about my own hesitation in this regard. I said that everything is fine. I called my friends in Ukraine and asked about the current situation. They said that Kyiv is relatively safe. So, I decided to come here.

On February 23rd, 2022, you were in Ukraine. Tell us how those days were for you and how was your way to Latvia?

A team meeting was held the day before the invasion of Kramatorsk, where we were told not to worry. Although, in fact, the situation was as tense as possible and everyone understood that there were strong prerequisites for the start of a full-scale war.The next day, at four in the morning, our city came under rocket attack. Windows were blown out at the base. Then the manager came and told us that we should go for the form and take all the things. My teammate and I went on foot and saw shells fly over our heads. After that, we returned to the base, where I stayed until the evening, and then went to Druzhkivka, where hockey players from other teams were staying with me at the hotel. We wanted to go to Kyiv in the morning, but it didn’t work out. In the end, I managed to buy a ticket for the evening train to Lviv at the station. The journey lasted about a day, because the train stopped a lot due to shelling. After my arrival, I spent the night, and in the morning I went to the Israel consulate, because the Latvian consulate didn`t provide a bus that would go to the border. I was well received, fed, and together with the citizens of this country, I went to Polish border. We walked through it. It was possible to do it in just five hours. As far as I know, many people could spend even a few days there. On the Polish side, my parents were already waiting for me with car, and we went Latvia.

What were your first emotions when you saw that the war had started?

Of course, it was scary. It isn`t at all clear why all this is happening. I liked Ukraine and it was a pity to leave this country. At first it was difficult to understand the seriousness and how long it would take. Unfortunately, the war is still here…

Nevertheless, you are living in Kyiv for some time now. How would you describe today’s capital of Ukraine?

I like everything here. The city is alive. You can see many people on the streets. I saw tourists too. IHere is really very nice and cozy.

You have already played three matches this season. How would you characterize the level of the team and the current championship in general?

The level is quite good. Kyiv Capitals is a new club. Nevertheless, we are determined to fight only for the championship. Our task is to build a strong team that will give victories to the fans. As for the championship, it`s interesting to play in it. There is good competition. I don’t regret coming here.

In the match against Kremenchuk, you made your debut with an assist, and the team defeated the current vice-champion and winner of the Cup of Ukraine with a score of 6:0. Surely you can’t think of a better start?

Certainly. The match turned out to be of high quality and brought a lot of positive emotions. I would like to say good words about game of Borys Babik, who kept his own goal clean and helped us a lot. In general, I will say that there was excitement, because I didn`t spend much time with the team. After a difficult first period, it was possible to get into the game more confidently, and then everything was fine.

In addition to Latvia and Ukraine, you played in the championships of several other countries. What can you say about them?

At a fairly young age, I played in the USA junior leagues. It`s a very interesting experience, which consists in seeing another continent and getting game practice there. I will also mention the French championship. There is quite another hockey and life in general. When you come there for the first time, you feel that you need time for adaptation. However, the work on the development of this type of sport isn`t bad there.

What are your personal goals for this season?

First of all, I want to grow as a hockey player and help the team achieve its` main goal. We have to win gold medals of the championship.