Interview with the first winners of CJHL

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The emotions from the first season of the CJHL, which ended more than four months ago, have now faded away. Only a few days remain until the start of the new season. We spoke about the previous as well as the coming season with representatives of the first champion of the CJHL. The president and the coach of the club HK “Halycké Levyˮ Novojavorivsk from Ukraine responded to our questions.

Your club is one of the founders of the CJHL. You personally took part in the first meeting of club representatives in Michalovce, on 22 March 2016. Do you still recall the kinds of expectations you then came with to Michalovce and with what kind of feelings you returned home after this meeting, at which you for the most part agreed on the principle of functioning of the CJHL?

Mykola Romanyuk (club president): The time from this meeting as well as from the moment when the gold medals were handed to us passed very quickly. At the start, I would like to thank the league management as well as all the participants for the past season.

Recollecting our first meeting recalls to me the hope and expectations with which I travelled to Michalovce. I believed then that with our common efforts it would be possible to build a functioning international competition with the participation of clubs from several countries. At the mentioned meetings, I met with people who live hockey the same that we do. All of us who were there thought the same; we had the same aim, the same vision. That’s why from the first moment I believed that the creation of this league was for real.

This league gave our club the opportunity to confront the quality of our players on international ice, and at the same time it was necessary and beneficial to us for popularizing hockey in our region. Even the results of the first meeting in Michalovce gave us a great deal of strength and enthusiasm not only for the training process but also overall for the development of hockey in our region.

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How did participation in the CJHL influence your preparation for the new season? Have you changed anything or have you prepared the same as for last season?

Mykhaylo Chikantsev (coach): Our holidays each year end by the beginning of August, when we start preparation for the new season. In the second half of August we’ve always tried to take part in pre-season tournaments. Last season we also prepared in line with the summer preparation plan used. With respect to our start in the CJHL, we accepted an invitation from our friends in Belarus and took part in a quality tournament in Minsk. This was mainly so that our players had the relevant game practice during the first round of league play.

Your team achieved a phenomenal result, when it went undefeated during the entire CJHL season. From the stands it could seem that nearly everything was going right for the “Lionsˮ. Anyone who didn’t have the chance to watch the games could get the impression that this league was too weak for your team. How do you evaluate the playing level of the first CJHL season and what was the main “secretˮ of your success?

Mykhaylo Chikantsev: I think it only seemed this way. Truth be told, all of the games were useful for us. Boys in the 15-16 age group should above all gain experience. In the CJHL we had the opportunity to play against a variety of hockey “schoolsˮ, a variety of styles and different systems of play. Even though we didn’t lose even once and achieved several lopsided victories, I have to say that all the teams were worthy opponents and even these victories didn’t come easily.

We have no secret :) The primary advantage versus the other teams was mainly the level of our players. While others had one-two strong shifts, we had four of them. This enabled us to maintain a high tempo during the games.


One of the rounds of the first CJHL season took place at your home in Novojavorivsk. League management, as well as all participants, evaluated its organization highly. The direct broadcasts of the games in particular, but also the number of people in the seats, gave this event a lot of credit. How did you prepare for this even and how much time did you devote to preparations?

Mykola Romanyuk: First of all, I’d like to say thank you for the high evaluation of the league round in our town. This was a real hockey holiday for our region and so we approached it that way. We bought the equipment necessary to provide direct broadcasts, and we produced a lot of materials to promote the event. We presented it on the Internet, on radio, on billboards and posters. The result of this work was good attendance, which I think is the best evaluation of our work. It can be said that the most intensive part of the preparations lasted about a month.

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At the beginning of April you accepted the Cup for winning the CJHL in Debrecen. What did the “Lionsˮ do in the following months and how do your preparations for the coming season look?

Mykhaylo Chikantsev: At the end of April we had the opportunity during the World Ice Hockey Championships in Kiev (division I, group A) to take part in the U20 category of the “Kiev Chestnutˮ tournament. Teams from all over Ukraine took part in this. This was our first experience with hockey in this age category. To the surprise of everyone, even us, we won this tournament. We trained in the classic regimen to the end of May. Then the boys completed a week-long meeting and departed for their holidays in a good mood. We met again on 1 August. After completion of the necessary medical check-ups, 3 August we on skated on the ice, now a tradition in the town of Kalush. We will get ready for the start of the CJHL season the Ukrainian Championships there.

Mykola Romanyuk: Not only our players are preparing for the 2017/2018 season. We added a dressing room for players at the stadium in Novojavorivsk and installed cameras over the goals. We made a great many other modifications which I believe will bring greater comfort for our fans and for the players themselves.

How do you evaluate the first year of the CJHL? Did it fulfil your expectations? What are your wishes for the new season and what would you wish for the other league participants?

Mykola Romanyuk: For evaluation of the past season I look through the perspective of the league’s development. I expect that the U18 category will be with its professionalism more interesting, because the players will be older and thus more experienced. I believe that we’ll see more elements of senior hockey in the games. I’m completely certain that a lot of close games and proper hockey “battlesˮ await us in the new season.
For the new season I wish each solid health in particular, a good mood and many interesting games.

Mykhaylo Chikantsev: The first season of the CJHL was clearly successful! And not only because we became its champion. I thank the organizers and all the teams for the new season and for the experience we acquired during the season. I warmly wish for all of us that the league gets stronger, increases the level of its teams, expands geographically and that each game is “unpredictableˮ.

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