Hockey is back in our - currently blisteringly hot - city... But the sweltering heat doesn't bother the Bears, even as they're only slightly cooled down at the Fairgrounds' rink.
''You would think it would be cooler on and around the ice, but it's not. The heat has made it into the skating arena'', commented Ivan Jankovic with a smile as he wiped beads of sweat off his face, while goalie Danny Taylor added:
''But in the end we manage to come out of those high temperatures and have quality practices at a high level. Even though, I have to admit, in these conditions it's a totally different level of fitness.''
Just like Taylor himself says, the heat didn't hinder the Bears from showing the coaches what shape they arrived to the preseason in and what qualities they demonstrate.
''I'm happy with the shape the players are in and with what they've demonstrated on the ice right from day one. The practices are tough, and every day we also have a game to make it easier to select players who are on a tryout period. You can see that the players who are still fighting for a spot are hungry; they want to impress us and have already done a good job on the first day. They know what we expect from them, that they will be marked on their game, competitive spirit, and that they came here to get a job'', commented Medvescak's Head Coach Gordie Dwyer, who also addressed the young Croatian players who found themselves at the preseason:
''This is a great opportunity for them to get to practice with really good European and Russian players. That will certainly help them develop. I'm extremely happy that they arrived ready, which proves that they are willing to work and give it their all.''
Russian forward Artyem Pugolovkin also gave us his impressions of the training camp, during which he scored five goals at the first prep game that divided the team into Whites and Blues.
''The preparations are really intense and I have to admit that I really like that. This is my first time having the opportunity to play in Europe and you can notice the difference right away. We work a lot on speed and it's incredibly exhausting, but we're all making an effort and that's how we'll keep doing it.''