Igor Romashin: We progress year to year, step by step

On September 1st, Arena Omsk, yet keeping high temperature of the recent Junior Club World Cup battles saw another important event – season opener, the Inauguration Cup, involving two last season Kharlamov Cup finalists with Red Army vs. Omsk Hawks match.
Before entering a new season, MHL Competitions Department's chief, Igor Romashin presented rookie teams and noted that with the new teams coming on the competitiveness will increase significantly.
- This season, the Kharlamov Cup will be contested by 33 teams - said Romashin in an interview to the MHL Website. The League now has two newcomers Energie of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic and Patriot of Budapest, Hungary. Plus, Oktan Perm’ and Cristal of Berdsk, last season's gold and silver medalists of the MHL Second Division.

-Why do you think those newcomers chose the Junior Hockey League?
- The Czechs showed interest soon after they played in the last year’s World Cup at Omsk. Having seen the kind of hockey shown by Red Army, HC Riga and Dynamo Shinnik of Bobruisk, Energie governors saw fit to enter their team to secure professional skill growth of their players in the environment of tough opposition. That’s why they decided to join.
In fairness I am happy that a Czech team will present a worthy competition to other MHL clubs, no doubt about that. Hungary too puts good effort in hockey development, and, naturally they make a bid for their youth.

- Before the new season face-off, have you inspected participants’ preparedness for the competition? Were you satisfied?
- Arenas inspection is an obligatory procedure. What we saw was in compliance with the Championship Regulations requirements. It was gratifying to see the growth of the clubs’ material and technical basis catching up with their purely sports performance.

- No complaints with regard rookie newcomers?
- No. The Czechs have one of the best infrastructures in the League. When we went to Karlovy Vary for the on-site inspection, we were very impressed how thoroughly they arranged their team participation very accommodation and training facilities, excellent arena, everything is done for the team not simply to play hockey, but show the best of their skills.
Patriot Budapest, too have very good facilities, perfect for junior hockey, I’d say. With regard to hockey proper, again, the rookies look impressive enough. I had an opportunity to observe Energie before the World Cup. They were able to strengthen their ranks, and I liked the style they played in Omsk.

We saw a few players on the Hungarian team who played for the Tatran wolves last season, good young players…I heard a lot of praise for the Patriot team’s head coach Petr Novak who came to the helm in off-season. Well, we won’t have to wait too long to see them play.

- Could you comment a bit on last season's 2nd Division finalists?
- Both, Oktan and Cristal indeed played good hockey last season, and were worthy finalists of the play-off series contest for gold and silver medals. And in pre-season preparation period they added a few good players to their rosters and are both set to challenge all opposition they will be taking on.

- How would you rate MHL teams' action against European and North American rivals at the recent Club World Cup?
- I fully agree with Vladimir Yurzinov when he said that our players did look as good as Canadians and Americans. Actually, Dynamo-Shinnik of Bobruisk and Riga beat USHL and CHL rivals. Generally, level of hockey shown at the World Cup was pretty similar. Results wise the performance in junior hockey is often affected by certain nuances nobody can control, emotions often impede skills preventing a team to play to its real potential.

- What are your expectations on the eve of the fourth MHL season?
- We progressed year to year, step by step. No doudt, this upcoming season will not be an exception. Obviously, the level of skill, competitiveness, all other hockey components have grown dramatically. We have an excellent management team capable of solving serious tasks and take ob any serious. The proof is found in three preceding season, MHL Red Stars selection’s performance, the Challenge Cup.


Junior Hockey League Press Service