The head coach of «Kyiv Capitals» Vadym Shakhraichuk spoke about the team’s preparation for participation in the Cup of Ukraine and outlined the main tasks for this tournament.
Vadym, next Thursday the team is expected to start in the Cup of Ukraine, which will be held in Kremenchuk. Tell us, how would you rate the training camp of «Kyiv Capitals», timed to prepare for official matches?
Yes, I`m satisfied with the collection. For a long period, we managed to practice on the ice. We managed to complete the series of tasks that were set before the start of the training process. I really liked the guys’ attitude to their duties. Especially about veterans. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that they worked through the entire collection: from start to finish, even though the workload wasn`t easy. In general, I will say that we passed this stage without any serious damage. Yes, there were microtraumas, but, unfortunately, this can`t be avoided. We are a little short on performers in each position, but overall our team looks pretty good and competitive.
What do you say about the team’s tasks for the tournament: are they maximum or now the main thing is to prepare well for the start of the championship?
We don`t have the goal of winning the cup at any cost. This tournament will be the debut for «Kyiv Capitals». The team will play only the first official matches. Before that, we had sparring sessions with semi-professional teams, but not with representatives of the Major League. Of course, there will be excitement. The task for us is to demonstrate high-quality modern hockey. We will try to win in every match, and during the course of the tournament it will become clear whether we are worthy of the cup or whether we should still do some work on mistakes.
Last week it was officially announced that the championship and the cup will consist of six participants. If we talk about the nearest tournament, do you think it is better to play it according to the proposed format (two groups of three teams) or, for example, to hold it in a one circle?
We don’t care. This is the will of the organizers. The team is ready to play in any format. The main thing for the tournament is to take place in a fair fight. Whoever is stronger, let him win.
Within the framework of the cup, is it more important for you to work out the recorded connections in each of the links or to make some certain experiments?
Links are already formed. There are separate questions regarding certain positions. We want to understand whether they really need reinforcements or whether the boys will be able to get better and we won`t need to look for more legionnaires who will come here and replace Ukrainian hockey players. We will try to give a chance to play to all hockey players, especially young ones. For many, the match against «Kremenchuk» will be a serious test. We will see how the boys manage to withstand this level.
The team is ready to face opponents of «Kremenchuk’s» level?
The previous championship showed that the four teams in it were at about the same level. Everything will depend on execution of the coaching task. Of course, «Kremenchuk» has the advantage of its own arena. The field corresponds to Canadian parameters, that is, it is a little smaller than what we are used to. I would like to add that «Sokil» held five friendly matches in Poland. So I will mark these two teams as favorites. The other contestants will have to push themselves to reach the finals and try to win the trophy.
In the June interview, you said that active work was being done on the selection, and in a comment to the FHU press service, you said that you would be looking for reinforcements before the end of the transfer window. In general, how would you rate the changes that took place over the summer?
There is always room for improvement. However, I have nothing to complain about. I am confident in my hockey players. I know what they will get better. Someone showed himself better than the coaching staff expected, someone didn`t disappoint. The search for hockey players is underway. Because, indeed, reinforcement is always needed. I think the opponents will also work on the transfer market until the last day. We don`t pay too much attention fot it and continue to move according to the established program.
In the story for Suspilne Sport, you said that the Finnish legionnaire Eetu Moksunen managed to be invited to the team thanks to his girlfriend, who is Ukrainian. Currently, there is another foreigner in the «Kyiv Capitals» team – Slovakian goalkeeper Boris Babik. Tell us how the negotiations with him went.
Found the necessary words (smiles). In fact, Boris asked Eetu about the situation in Ukraine and the financial possibilities of the club. Boris believed in our project, in its stability and reliability. That`s why he is here now.
How would you characterize the other opponents in the group stage – the team «Kharkiv Berserks»?
This is a fairly young team that is «hungry» for victories. I`m sure that the boys will try to demonstrate all their skills. Perhaps they lack a little skill, but the desire to play as well as possible so that the top Ukrainian clubs pay attention to them and invite them in the future will definitely be there. Maximum concentration is required in the match against «Kharkiv Berserks». There can be no underestimation.
The preparation of most participants of the championship can now be learned mostly from the news. How important is the opportunity to watch official matches of future opponents live or online?
Of course, this is a great opportunity for every coach. You can see the level of the teams is at this moment. The Cup of Ukraine is an important tournament and it must be held before the championship. It has its own highlight. Even if it`s not the Cup of Ukraine, but any other pre-season tournament. The championship is quite short and few teams participate in it. Therefore, every official match or match with at least some tournament strategy is a great benefit for Ukrainian hockey.
Finally, let’s talk about Kyiv hockey. This season, three of the six participants of the championship will represent the capital. How interesting is this competition for fans and team representatives?
I`m convinced that there should have been such a number of clubs in Kyiv for a long time. We can mention various teams: «Berkut», «Kompanion», «Generals» and others. And if the «Generals» played in the championship when there was no «Sokil», then the current champion had very interesting derbies with others. It`s good that now the number of participants from Kyiv is increasing. However, it`s necessary to note the current realities. First of all, it`s connected with a full-scale war. Thanks to our army, in the capital, we have the opportunity to hold matches. Here is the main arena of our country, although it`s also a little outdated for the modern world. However, it`s good that it wasn`t demolished and some office center or residential complex was built. So, the number of teams is also related to infrastructure capabilities. I hope that all three Kyiv clubs will take steps forward in their development, and the number of representatives of our city in the championship, at least, will not decrease. I sincerely hope that after we win the war, teams from the rest of the regions will also be added little by little. Then we will have an interesting championship, and its matches will be attended by spectators. I will also add that Ukraine is a hockey country. Our recent performances in Olympic qualification and the World Cup in Group A proved this. However, new arenas are needed. This will help to return to our positions.