International Youth Sled Hockey Invitational tournament ended. The Russian team won silver medals, having lost in the finals to the champions of US Space Coast 2018/2019. The national team’s participation was sponsored by the Charitable Foundation of Elena and Gennady Timchenko.
“This was the first time that we had a chance to face off with the best teams of the United States of America on the ice. The first play day was no walk in the park, yet we managed to win both matches. This demonstrates the calibre of the team and the professionalism of the coaches. The off-ice events show that our kids are becoming more open. They try to communicate, speak English, they exchange small souvenirs — they are socializing. We have been joining competitions in Canada and the USA for a number of years now, but it was not until we came to Grand Rapids that we felt genuinely welcome. We are grateful to Steve Kozlowski, who organized the tournament, for doing everything to make such a challenging trip as comfortable and interesting as possible for our team,” said Igor Baradachov, head of the Sports programme at the Timchenko Foundation.
“The first thing you see is that in the United States of America the leaders play sledge hockey that is organized and close to the adult level. This is not the case in Russia. This is partly because of the age of the players: it is kids aged 14-17 who play in the USA. And they are obviously much more experienced at playing in such tournaments than are our kids. The kids did really great: they played 4 matches in 2 days — this is quite a challenge. Nobody plays at such a pace in Russia. Nobody in this country plays 3 periods of 13 minutes net time at such speeds, with such aggressive drive. Even our leaders from Tula’s Tropik, from Orenburg had not seen it before. Still, I believe that was a successful experience,” said Andrey Ivanov, head coach of the Russian national team, in summing up the tournament’s outcome.
In the divisional round, the Russian team lost not a single match. The players came home late on 5 November.