Infobar:  Pilsen Challenge 2018: 9th - 11th February

Gary Slavin: Hope Of Taking Home Medal Is In Our View

Gary Slavin: Hope Of Taking Home Medal Is In Our View Gary Slavin will bring the West Coast Express to the Czech Republic for Pilsen Challenge once again. Last year, the team struggled and finished last. "We have added a few extra players this trip and hope not to run into injury issues again," Slavin hopes.

10.02.2016 | Marek Kratochvíl

You will attend the Pilsen Challenge for the second time with team West Coast Express. When and why did you decide to come back?
We decided right after the last Plzen Cup that we would return and represent Canada again in 2016. It was an easy decision as it was a well organized tournament and both the city of Plzen and Josef and the HBC Plzen have been great hosts to our players.

Will ayou have the former junior national teams’ players on your roster again like last year?
We have a few Junior Team Canada Alumni players back with us as well as a couple of new ones. Chris Ceraldi is a three time JTC player and Justus Rodonets has competed in two Junior Worlds. The balance of the team is some local players that have played Premier Division in BC (Canada) as well we have picked up a couple of Slovakia players as travel and schedule was hard for other players to make the trip from Canada. Three of our Slovak players have or currently play in our Premier Mens’ Division in BC in the summer months.

Last year, you finished last in a tough competition. What are your ambitions for this year? What style of ball hockey would you like to perform?
The first tournament we learnt many things. We were unfortunate not to win a medal, but as we came with a very small roster, we ran in to many injuries. By the time we played Swiss in the Bronze game we were down to 8 forwards and 4 Defenseman. We have added a few extra players this trip and hope not to run into injury issues again. We have very good speed, and will still play a good Canadian systematic style. We are very positive, we will compete the entire weekend and hopes of taking home a medal is in our view.

How does your preparation look and when do you plan to arrive to Pilsen? Will you schedule some time to get used to time change and plastic surface?
I feel most of our players have played on the Plzen floor and are used to it. We do make adjustments in the type of sticks we use. For the new players – it will all come together as we practice both Wednesday and Thursday at the Plzen rink. This was a decision to get in to Plzen early to properly train on the floor.

Apart from home team which dominated the Czech Men´s Extraliga so far this season, there will be another Czech team Kovo Prague, Slovak team Ružinov and Oberwill from Switzerland. Do you know those sides?
Yes we have been researching these teams online as well as a few players that play in the Slovak league that follow those teams. It is a great challenge, but we intend to have great competitive games with all. As we are used to a Canadian style reffing game, we have instructed our players on how different the play is in Europe. Going into the tournament with this type of preparation, we should be seen in the top three of the group.

You personally have been to Pilsen many times before. How do you like it? Is there any similar town in Canada as well?
This for me will be my tenth time traveling to Plzen, each time is always a great experience. I feel Plzen has become a second home for me in our ball hockey family. Very friendly people and businesses and the HBC Plzen is always very accomodating for our Canadian groups. I am looking forward to bringing a U15 West Coast Express Club team back in June as well as looking at the possibilities of our Mens’ and Womens’ Team Canada groups to use Plzen as our training camp prior to traveling to Pardubice for the World Championships in 2017.

As far as a Canadian city similar to Plzen, I would have to say Victoria, BC. It has many old heritage buildings, friendly people and welcome people from all around the world with open arms. I would suggest if Plzen players could travel to Victoria, BC – they would feel right at home.

Last. Many, many thanks to Josef Kadane and all the communication we have as friends. He has always welcomed me and the groups I bring to Plzen. I look forward to many more trips to my other home... Plzen!

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Pilsen Cup 2018 – Final Day Summary

This year´s Pilsen Cup is over! It saw West Coast Express´ triumph in under-17s while Spišská Belá took gold among under-15s with a win over hosts HBC Plzeň. Their older clubmates finished 3rd after Sunday playoffs.

Team GP S P
1. Plzeň 22 79:34 54
2. Pardubice 22 78:43 52
3. Kladno 22 69:45 44
4. Most 22 65:48 44
5. Kert Park Praha 22 83:57 42
6. Sudoměřice 22 48:62 27
7. Ústí n/L 22 53:70 27
8. Třinec 22 60:69 26
9. Letohrad 22 49:59 25
10. Kovo Praha 22 53:65 21
11. 22 38:77 20
12. Hradec Králové 22 45:91 14
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