New coach for Ukraine
New coach for Ukraine
Olexander Savytsky takes over
He takes over from Alexander Godynyuk, who resigned after the team’s demotion to the Division I Group B after five straight losses at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A.
The 44-year-old Kyiv native was a long-time hockey player. The former defenceman represented Ukraine in 119 international games, eighth all-time for the country, in which he scored 13 goals and had 37 assists. He played for the men’s national team in nine IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship events including four in the top division between 1993 and 2004.
Savytsky started his professional career with Sokil Kyiv in the Soviet league and later also played in the Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Belarus. He won several Ukrainian championships with Sokil Kyiv and became Russian champion with Ak Bars Kazan in 1998.
After ending his career as a player in 2008 where it all started, at Sokil Kyiv, he worked as an assistant coach of the national team (2008/2009), as head coach of the U20 national team (2009-2011), for Podil Kyiv (2010/2011), the U18 national team (2012/2013) and the last two years for HK Kremenchug.
“He’s well remembered as a hockey player. He’s a young and ambitious coach with a vision,” said Anatoli Brezvin, the President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine, and stressed the importance of rejuvenating the team.
“We have to build a competitive Ukrainian championship where our young prospects will play. We have had new good players every year and our task is to give them a chance that they don’t get lost in hockey.”
After a much-shortened 2014/2015 season due to the financial crises and the armed conflict in parts of the country, the federation is working on a full-scale championship with eight teams intending to participate in the top league including two comebacks.
The country’s most storied venue, the Palace of Sports in Kyiv, will be used again for club hockey by the Generals Kyiv. And former KHL club Donbass Donetsk will also be back in business by joining the Ukrainian league. The club from the conflict region in eastern Ukraine lost its arena due to arson one year ago and will play 70 kilometres outside of the city in Druzhkivka outside of the rebel-held area.
The Ukrainians hope that having back a full-scale league starting in late September will give the players the chance to develop and find new prospects for the national team. Due to the situation almost all national team players had to play abroad last season to earn a living in countries such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania and Russia.
The national team has been aging over the years with 11 players from last season’s roster being 30 years or older – a situation the Ukrainians hope to change with young players showcasing their talent in the national championship.
“I’m grateful for the confidence from the executive committee. I agree with the vision of the federation to attract new prospects. A good tool for this is the national championship where young players will perform,” Savytsky said after his appointment.
“The main point is to get the time to reboot the national team. The previous coaching staff began the process of rejuvenating the team. I’m going to continue this process.”
Ukraine will play Great Britain, Lithuania, Croatia, Estonia and Romania at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, 17-23 April 2016.
Earlier into the season the Ukrainians will compete in the Olympic Pre-Qualification from 11 to 14 February 2016 where they’re seeded in Group J held in Sapporo with host Japan, Croatia and Romania. The group winner will advance to the Final Olympic Qualification stage in early September 2016 to determine the three qualifiers for the 2018 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament.
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