«Kyiv Capitals» hockey player Serhiі Chernenko summed up the team’s performance in the Cup of Ukraine, and also talked about the details of the preparation for the championship and the goals for the upcoming season.
Serhii, the 2023/2024 season started with a cup tournament. How would you summarize the performance of «Kyiv Capitals»?
Of course, every athlete always wants to win. Unfortunately, we did not manage to win the Cup of Ukraine. So, we are not satisfied with the result. However, there are many positive moments.
Perhaps the main one is that the team finally got practice in official matches?
Yes, we had just two matches for «Kyiv Capitals» at this level. It was important to see our opponents and check our readiness. The matches turned out to be quite useful.
If we evaluate the first match, «Kharkiv Berserks» can still be called a less experienced team, and the match itself was played quite confidently. Instead, the team was expected to be tested by the current vice-champion, who is a well-rounded team. In your opinion, what was missing in the match with «Kremenchuk»?
I will not surprise those who watched the match with the answer. The main problem was the realization of the majority. In this component, nothing worked at all, although we spent a lot of time in the 5×4 game, and also missed two pucks. However, let’s draw conclusions. We understand what to work on. I am sure that everything will be fine.
Missed pucks in the majority – is it a lack of play or proper concentration?
Everyone had the desire. In terms of movement on the ice, we were not inferior to the opponent. They were also physically ready. Specifically, in this meeting, they failed to realize many moments. To be honest, the pitch was also a little uncomfortable for us, but I repeat, we will analyze our mistakes and correct them.
Before the start of the season, experts note four favorites in the fight for the championship. Among them: «Sokil», «Kremenchuk», «Dnipro» and «Kyiv Capitals». In your opinion, the matches of the Cup of Ukraine confirmed these words?
I think so. The rest of the teams are still not able to catch up. However, they still have time to carry out additional equipment, as well as to practice more. In my opinion, there will be no easy walks in the championship, even in matches with those opponents in which not everything worked out in the cup tournament.
Now there is a pause before the start of the championship. How is it filled by «Kyiv Capitals»?
We train on the ice, as well as outdoors. Maybe we’ll play with someone from the Major League. However, training is one thing, and matches are quite another. The Cup of Ukraine confirmed this just one more time.
You haven’t played in the Major League since the 2017/2018 season. How nice is it to be back in the elite division of our championship and what are your personal goals?
There was a period when there was an age limit in Ukraine, so some of the guys ended their careers or went abroad. I chose the second option. During this time, I managed to play in the championships of Romania and Turkey. They called me to go there again, but it was not possible to go there due to a full-scale accident. I did not plan to end my career, so I responded to the offer from Kyiv Capitals with great pleasure. As for the tasks, we will strive to win in every match. I would like to become the champion of Ukraine again.
In the framework of the Cup of Ukraine, you distinguished yourself with the debut puck for «Kyiv Capitals». Does it add momentum before the start of the championship?
Of course. I have wonderful partners who have done everything for me. It’s always nice to score, but I like assisting more.
«Kyiv Capitals» will be your fifth club from Kyiv in your career after «Kyiv», «Sokіl», «Companion» and «Generals». What memories do you have of each of them?
I spent most of my career in «Sokіl». This is a very large number of matches, including in the international arena. I was in the team for quite a long time, but it has its own nuances. They, like for many other hockey players, are connected with financial issues. There still have debts. This is what I can talk about from the negative. I will also mention the season with «Сompanion», when we managed to win gold medals. Then I was recognized as the best striker of the championship. Very pleasant memories of that time. Everything in the team was organized at the highest level. I can say the same about «Kyiv Capitals». I’m even a little pleasantly surprised. We don’t have any problems with equipment, sometimes we even get paid a little earlier. So I like everything here too.
I would like to ask a question about the period of performances in the championship of Turkey. For Ukrainian fans it is quite «exotical». What can you tell us about this stage in your career?
Some time ago the championship of Romania or the national team of this country could also be called «exotical». Like, who are they and where do they play?! However, time has passed and now you can see how much the level of the championship and the national team of that country has grown. The Turkish championship can be compared with the Romanian one. Of course, they are only taking the first steps, but everything is developing very quickly. A large number of modern arenas have been built. When I went there for the first time, I thought that football was the number 1 sport, but I did not expect to see such wonderful grounds and, in general, a proper approach to the development of hockey. I will not make predictions when, but we will see the Turkish national team at a high level. Everything is done structurally. Many children’s schools, the championship is developing. I am sure that they will grow every year and we will forget about the mentioned «exotical».
Final question. What epithets can most accurately characterize the team of «Kyiv Capitals»?
As it turned out, many experts like to give different estimates. Including about our club. Some say we’re a fighting bunch, while others call us outright amateurs with whom many opponents would have an easy time. Let’s see! I can say that we have a great team. The boys’ eyes are burning. Everyone trains in a good mood. There is a desire to go out on the ice and give 100% to win. There are many young hockey players whose level I like, but we will do without surnames. I hope that they will work on themselves even more intensively and will play for the national team in the future. I am convinced that soon «Kyiv Capitals» will show themselves well on the ice rinks within the framework of the championship.