Ukraine and The Czar

We have concluded our first week of training camp in Yuzhny. Last year we came to the camp with 16-17 players. But this year we have 23 guys who were competing for 15 spots on the Ukraine National Team.

Since there are a lot of new faces we haven’t seen before, we’ve done much more playing than teaching during our practices because we need to get a feel for these guys and see what they can do. We will have to make some cuts because we can’t get as much accomplished in training camp with such a large group.

Our first friendly tournament will get underway this week. We face Romania on Tuesday, followed by Belarus on Wednesday and Israel on Thursday in the AeroSvit Cup 2012. Unfortunately five of our players will be out at the start of the tournament, including three starters.

Hopefully we will be competitive, but I’m not as concerned about winning as I am about determining who are in fact the best players to keep on the roster for the qualifying tournament in August. It will be good to compete against some new opponents in these exhibition games.

Photos courtesy of Anatolii Riabukha.

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