Vityaz hockey club’s team from the Podolsk junior sports school (Moscow Region) is on the way up. The boys have already played in group two of the Moscow Region open championship and they are now getting ready for the big start of the season — the Gazprom Neft Cup International Tournament. Pavel Levashev, the Vityaz-2005 coach, tells us more:
Interviewer: How do the boys feel about their trip to the Gazprom Neft Cup?
P.L.: They have been waiting for this! They knew since September that they were coming, so they have been preparing, getting tuned up. They do understand the importance and the high level of this tournament. Some of the boys who didn’t make the team are very upset, because everyone wants to go to this ice hockey celebration. We’re on our way and we mean to win!
I: Who would you pick out as your team leaders?
P.L.: We don’t have leaders as such. We try to play as a team. But I would point to our defenders. Especially Fyodor Vyalov, Sergei Dzyuba, Danila Pipkin. They have looked really sure of themselves playing in the second group: they knocked in nine pucks between them in the last few games. I don’t see a clear leader in attack — there are some promising lads there, but I can’t pick anyone out just yet.
I: How difficult is it to get into your team?
P.L.: Right now we have four full lines. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no entry to the team. If a boy is talented, we are happy to take him. We don’t close the gate. There always has to be fresh blood!
I: Tell us how the team lives.
P.L.: All of the boys are in a special class at the same school. After the school day, the second coach picks up and brings them to the rink. We have practices every day, on and off the ice. Games on Saturday, and one day-off on Sunday.
I: How successful is your team?
P.L.: We have played twice in the transitional tournaments as part of the Moscow Region open championship. We won the second group, but lost to first-group teams. We stand third now after the third round, we will have some more games to play in the Moscow Region championship right after the Gazprom Neft Cup.