Rinkside Reflections (Ukraine-Slovakia)

By Lasse Johansson

Team Ukraine sensationally won the first relegation game against Slovakia
by three goals to one. The Ukrainian netminder Vadim Seleverstov
was highly resposible for the win, as he didn’t get much support from his defencemen. Slovakia missed five or six “open goal” opportunities and should have won the game comfortably if Seleverstov hadn’t been playing like a god. Slovakia was the better team on every aspect of the game, except the two most crucial aspects; goaltending and goal scoring. The third Ukrainian goal scored by Artem Gnidenko was one of the flashiest goals I have ever seen.

Prospect Report:

Team Ukraine:

#1 Vadim Seleverstov G – Vadim was definately the MVP of this game making loads of extremely big saves. He plays a very spectacular game, and my guess is that he is somewhat inconsistent. You could compare him to Dominik Hasek because of his unorthodox playing style. He was lucky at times, but a good goaltender needs luck. His play reminded me of fellow Ukrainian goaltender Igor Karpenko, who impressed the scouts so much in the 1995 WJCs that he was drafted by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

#2 Denis Isaenko D – Captain of the Ukranian team and one of the few players in the offensive minded Ukrainian team who acted with maturity in his own zone. Physical with fairly good size in the otherwise small Ukrainian team. Posesses a hard shot from the point.

#3 Evgeny Pisarenko D – The biggest Ukrainian defender with an extremely hard shot.

#6 Alexander Skorohod D – Born in 1983 but still one of the better defenders on the Ukrainian team. Very good work ethics combined with a brave playing style, not afraid to block shots or take a hit. If he can move either to Russia or North America in the near future he might be NHL material.

#17 Artem Gnidenko C – Anonymous for most of the game, then in the late third period, five minutes left of the game with the score 2-1 for Ukraine he got the puck in a two on one breakaway, made a few quick moves that fooled both the Slovakian defender and goaltender Krizan before putting the puck in the open net. So far the goal of the tournament by far. There are only a handfull of NHL-players that can do that kind of move (Kovalev, Bure, Yzerman).

#21 Pavio Shteffan LW – Looks like a clone of Philadelphia Flyers star Mikael Renberg. Tough power forward currently playing in North America. Definately not a finesse player.

Team Slovakia:

#1 Karol Krizan G – Replaced Rastislav Stana after the second Ukrainian goal. Karol is an extreme butterfly goalie. He plays with a lot of flair, and makes some really nice saves, but his size might be a problem with the type of game he plays. Was totally fooled by Gnidenko on the Ukranian third goal, otherwise he played a good game.

#3 Ladislav Harabin D – The best game I’ve seen from him so far. Maybe he felt that he could take more chances against a team like the Ukraine. Displayed some technical skills, as he often carried the puck all the way from defensive zone to offense. Had tons of playing time towards the end of the game.

#4 Marek Kolba D – Good size, physical but not much else to offer.

#6 Vladimir Urban D – Great shot, played at the point in the end of the game when the Slovakians desperately needed a goal.

#7 Branislav Mezei D – Didn’t play up to his skill in this game. Showed a bit of a mean streak when frustrated at the end of the game.

#12 Rene Vydareny D – Very good skater for his size.

#15 Jozef Mrena C – Good at face-offs, but doesn’t have the speed or acceleration that most of his team-mates have. He was hurt in the second period when blocking a shot that hit his foot.

#16 Lubomir Pistek RW – Scored the Slovakian goal on a one-on-one.

#19 Marcel Hossa C – Lots of playing time but ineffective like all of the Slovakians. Good on the face offs.

#20 Martin Cibak RW – Played together with the two 1982 born players Gaborik and Kopecky. Seems to have good leadership qualities.

#22 Tomas Kopecky C – Didn’t play as optimistic as he did in the earlier games. Still a positive surprise for me. Once again he tends to rely to much on Gaborik, often giving away the puck to him instead of creating something himself. Missed tons of scoring chances.

#23 Marian Gaborik LW – Showed flashes of brilliance at times, but didn’t score despite numerous outstanding opportunities. One of the best slovakian players, called upon to play in both power play and penalty killing situations. Played almost non-stop in the final minutes of the game without really creating anything.

#28 Milan Bartovic C – Good skater

#30 Rastislav Stana G – No chance on the first Ukrainian goal, extremely unfortunate on the second goal, when a pass from one of his own players was deflected and Rastislav didn’t see that the puck was right in front of the goal until it was to late. I don’t understand why he was replaced by Karol krizan as he had played a good game until the second goal, and Rastislav didn’t seem to understand it himself. I personally feel, after watching four Slovakian games that he is the better of the two slovakian netminders. He is not spectacular, but a very good positional goaltender.

Thats all for now, I hope that Slovakia can manage to win the game in UmeĆ„ on monday and secure a place in next years WJCs. Team Ukraines only hope of avoiding relegation as I see it is if they get the first goal. Team Slovakia seems to be easily frustrated, and if they don’t score the first goal then they are in big trouble.