Head coach of Kyiv Capitals Vadym Shakhraichuk summed up the results of the autumn part of the season for the team, talked about the interest of competition in the championship.

Vadym, now the team is in the first place after two months spent in the championship. How would you rate the autumn part of the season for Kyiv Capitals?

I am satisfied with the current position of the team in the tournament table. I would also like to note the quality of the game. Especially in recent matches we have added in this component. It shows the dedication and hard work put in by both the players and the other members of the club. I have to say about the schedule and the need for a more balanced calendar without too many breaks. It is indeed challenging to prepare the team under such conditions, but the team will continue to excel.

Is your current position at the top of the table surely adds moral strength and confidence to the team?

It is important to keep in mind that the season is still ongoing and there is a lot more to come. It is wise not to let euphoria take over and remain focused on the ultimate goal.

What is your overall impression of fighting in the championship and competing in the top four?

The competition in the championship must be intense and exciting, especially when dealing with the TOP-4 teams. The unpredictable nature of such matches adds an element of excitement and requires thorough preparation. It is commendable that you and your team approach each match with determination and anticipation.  Lastly, considering the challenges faced due to the ongoing war, I appreciate your positive outlook. Holding the championship under such circumstances is a testament to the resilience and dedication of everyone involved. Your overall impression of the championship and the rating you gave it showcases your understanding of the bigger picture and the value of continuing the sporting spirit even in difficult times.

Do you agree that the victory over Kremenchuk in the October match is the first step for the Kyiv Capitals to beat opponents from the TOP-4?

I agree that the victory over Kremenchuk has instilled confidence in the Kyiv Capitals team. It is worth noting their strong performance against Sokil, although they were unable to secure a win. The match against Kremenchuk showcased their competitiveness and proved that they are contenders for the top positions.

Borys Babik played exceptionally well in the home matches against Kremenchuk, conceding only one goal in 120 minutes. What is his secret?

Borys Babik is known for his professional work ethic. Additionally, he had extra motivation in the last match, as his number of days off depended on his performance (laughs). I promised him this opportunity after a long pause, which likely contributed to his impressive performance.

Is that why he made a great save in the final seconds?

Yes, his dedication and motivation certainly played a role in his outstanding save. However, it’s important to acknowledge the efforts of the entire team. The veterans, in particular, contribute to creating a positive team atmosphere in the locker room. Every small contribution adds up to the overall result.

In my opinion, the recent match against Kremenchuk was quite evenly matched. The team’s ability to secure a victory could be seen as an indication of their progress in forming a certain class?

The match can be analyzed in different segments, and there were moments when we played exceptionally well. At times, we strategized effectively and executed our gameplay accordingly, which is exactly how we should approach matches in the playoffs. However, I do agree that there were periods during the match where we struggled, and Kremenchuk had opportunities to equalize or even take the lead. Overall, the match didn’t go smoothly for either team. It was more tense than entertaining, with a lot of physical confrontations. I would like to give credit to the level of refereeing, as the officials maintained a high quality of control. They allowed the teams to compete without intervening excessively. Only three penalties were called, which led to intense and engaging battles on the ice. Moving forward, I hope both teams can display better discipline, while still having the freedom to play a competitive game. It’s worth mentioning that the tournament’s current situation added pressure to both the Capitals and Kremenchuk. Our opponents desperately needed a win to intensify their pursuit of the championship leadership, while we aimed to secure three points and reclaim the top spot after Sokil took over. This was particularly crucial before the break in the season.

Recently, the Kyiv Capitals achieved a significant victory by defeating Sokil for the first time in two matches. This victory holds great importance in terms of morale, especially considering that matches between these two teams are highly anticipated and fiercely competitive in the championship?

The fact that both teams currently hold the top two positions in the standings further intensifies the significance of these matches. If spectators were allowed into the stands, there would have been a large audience at the Palace of Sports. Prior to the championship, I mentioned in an interview that Sokil was the main favorite due to their successful signings of desired hockey players. However, it is essential to rely on our own strengths and capabilities. Throughout three engaging matches, the latest being a narrow victory on our part, the championship has showcased an abundance of excitement and intrigue. To succeed, we must continue to exert tremendous effort and approach each game with a determined mindset focused on achieving victory.

A question about the offensive line. As about now, Capitals share the first place with Kremenchuk in the number of pucks scored (75 each), and the best scorer of the championship Yaroslav Panchenko, who has 19 effective shots, plays in our team. How would you rate his current role in the team’s success?

Yaroslav took a very big step forward. We trust him with a lot of playing time. He really became the leader of the team. If earlier in the national team we involved him as a hockey player of the fourth link, now he can be called more versatile. Yaroslav’s progresses really well. However, Panchenko must not stop and demand more from himself. Even during the championship, there were situations when he did not give 100% during training, and this affected certain matches. Therefore, Yaroslav needs to train every day with maximum motivation, and because of that he will become even stronger and enjoy it. His physical fitness is at a very high level. His presence will be a significant boost for the national team.

Kyiv Capitals remain the only team with legionnaires. Are you satisfied with their performance?

When the domestic market did not yield enough talent to fill certain positions, the team had to consider options among international players. This does not mean that there are no hockey players in Ukraine, but rather, the suitable candidates were not available at the time. To be transparent, the level of foreign hockey players may not match the top transfers from 3-4 years ago. However, for the current season, these players serve as valuable reinforcements for the team. Some have emerged as leaders in the club, while others contribute as solid hockey players. So why did they end up playing for us? Perhaps it is because we have managed to prove that our club is stable and fulfills all contractual obligations on time. Despite the perceived importance of foreign players, we operate under a model inspired by the NHL. We hold full respect for our players and expect the same in return. Salaries are not inflated, and to my knowledge, the Capitals have the third-highest budget in the league. We strive to maintain a balance between player compensation and the financial sustainability of the club.

In your opinion, how important is it that the structure of the club includes not only men’s teams, but also youth and women’s teams?

From the beginning of the creation of the Kyiv Capitals brand, it was always our priority to have a fully functioning club structure. We believe it is crucial to not only have men’s teams but also youth and women’s teams. By entering into a cooperation agreement with the Kryzhynka school, we have taken a step in the right direction. Previously, there was a lack of a senior team for the university graduates, causing them to either join other teams or give up on hockey altogether. It is wonderful that we can now attract young talented players to our team and provide them with the opportunity to grow professionally. Furthermore, women’s hockey has made significant progress in the past five years, despite the setbacks caused by Covid-19 and other challenges faced. Many players have had to go abroad, but this season we are determined to rebuild and develop our women’s team. We are proud to contribute to the advancement of women’s hockey, and we have several familiar names who have joined our team.