On the eve of the “ISHF LIGA PRO WORLD CHALLENGES SERIES” Russian Short Hockey Tournament starting in April, we interviewed one of the brightest players of the past stage in Belarus – Vladimir Kalugin.
– Vladimir, for many fans the pause between the competitions in short hockey was rather long. From the final siren in Shklov, Belarus, to the starting whistle in Elektrostal there are two long months of pause. How did you spend that time? And with what expectations are you preparing for the upcoming competitions?
– Yes, I didn’t do anything in particular during that period. Like many athletes, I did some housework during the off-season. I was finishing some things, thank God, I had enough time. In recent days I’ve begun to prepare for the upcoming tournament in Elektrostal, it’s time to get in shape. According to the lineups, this tournament is sure to be very hot!
– You started the championship in Belarus with Kachkanar Uralets, but eventually won the Jakhn Cup in the uniform of Dinamo Tbilisi. Will you reveal the reasons for changing teams in the tournament in Belarus?
– Indeed, I received an invitation to the tournament from the Uralets team. And we had a strong team. We started really good, but at some point the team’s game began to fall apart and after a series of unpleasant defeats, especially painful was the defeat from Mogilev, so the club’s management took advantage of the transfer window and invited a couple of strong players under their banner. It became clear that the squad would be very tight, we wouldn`t be able to play all the time but I wanted to play very much. I received an offer to play for Dinamo. They were putting together an interesting team there. We agreed with the Uralets management that I’d rather play for another team in this tournament. I am grateful to the club and the fans who supported me despite my transfer and for their understanding. And in the end it turned out that we beat Kachkanar in the play-offs, in the final. Dinamo, indeed, had a very strong “gang” at that tournament.
– Well, the loan is over. Will you wear the Uralets jersey at the Championship in Electrostal again?
– Indeed, the loan in Dinamo is over. Yes, and the club has not shown any desire to continue to participate in the World Series. The Dinamo players went to other teams. And I, I consider myself lucky, was called back to Uralets. The club management trusts me. We developed a good relationship. This team is one of the most ambitious in the tournament, as well as in the whole series. They always set the highest goals. And we have a very strong squad. Although, at this tournament there will be no easy teams to pass through. You can tell by the line-up of participants and the names we have lined up for the tournament that we are expecting a serious fight.
-You already know what changes have taken place in your club?
– I`ve heard that newcomer is Pavel Podluboshnov. Also Ivan Shirokalov, we performed well with him at the tournament in Belarus as a Dinamo players. Both these players are a quality reinforcement of any team. I’ve heard that we`ve lost a lot of players. Dima Kotov and Vasya Doronin left the team. They will certainly be missed, but Anton Borko and Kudrya (Alexei Kudreman) also stayed. So, we’re going to Electrostal for the wins. (Laughs).
– Which teams from your opponents in this tournament you would like to note especially?
– All participants in their lineups are very strong. At first glance, there are no clear favourites or outsiders. From Belarus will come Kuznya Mogilev and Belsk, Kazakh Almata, Russian Armeets and of course Crystall Electrostal, who, simply, should be helped by the home walls. Of course, many fans are waiting for the clash between the Uralets and the Ice Warriors. There is some unresolved issue between our clubs. We will solve it at this tournament.
– The Warriors will be making their World Series debut. This is their first tournament. How long do you think it will take and how hard will it be for them to adapt?
– I’m not sure the Warriors can be classified as a rookie. This name in short hockey is already pretty well known to the fans. They should be an experienced team. And most likely a very strong one. We have players on the roster who have had experience playing for the Warriors and against the Warriors. They would probably tell us better about the capabilities of this team. For me personally, this will be the debut derby of two strong clubs. For the fans, I’m sure a very interesting series of confrontations is coming.