Summer is knocking on our doors and with it the preparations for the upcoming 2016/2017 KHL draw near. While many will be relaxing on the beach or in the shade of their garden, the Zagreb Bears will start assembling in July. After they have gathered in Zagreb, as well as completed their medical checkouts, media training and technical and organizational preparations, the Bears will start their preseason European tour. European, in the full meaning of the word this season.
“We’re happy with the way our preparation and training camp have come along. Aside from the games that we are announcing today, we also have a few other games in plan, the confirmation for those games will follow in the coming weeks. We’ll be travelling a lot around Europe this preseason and that will come as an excellent preparation for all the travelling that awaits us in the season. Although these trips around Europe are a lot cosier and simpler than those to the Far East, but these baby steps will also help the team,” said Medvescak’s sports director Aaron Fox and added: ”We know that the fans are anxious about our team and I’m sure they’re wondering who will be headed to the preparation camp. Starting from June 1 we will start announcing our players and registering their contracts and I believe that the fans’ patience will pay off…”
The Bears will have their first training camp in the Czech Republic where they will start with their first tests on the ice on August 2. In Karlovy Vary they will meet with Avangard Omsk, a team that won a tight game in the Den last season (0:1) and that made it all the way to the East conference final, where they lost in Game 7 against Salavat Yulaev.
“We open our training camp with a game against Avangard, an excellent KHL team, which will give us a chance to taste the guys from the very start and be sure that they’re ready to battle and play,” continued Fox.
The preparation games will, by the current schedule, continue in Great Britain, more precisely in Wales, where the Bears will visit the Cardiff Devils. With two games in two days, on the 13th and 14th of August, EIHL runner-ups (Elite Ice Hockey League) and winners of the Challenge cup in 2015. Will host Medvescak in their new arena, the Ice Arena Wales. A lot of people may be surprised by this trip out West, but Fox offers a simple explanation:
“We’re looking forward to our trip to Cardiff. During the World championships here in Zagreb, a representative from Cardiff said that they have a new arena and that they would like to bring a KHL team to the grand opening. I believe that the arena will be sold-out and we expect a positive atmosphere and a true team-building experience for the guys. We will have two practices a day and we will play two games during the weekend.”
In the final week of the preparations, the Bears will travel from the Island to Bratislava and they’re old rival Slovan. Only last season, three out of four games between these two teams ended with only a one goal difference, with the Bears taking the only decisive win on home ice (6:2). Slovakia’s representative in the KHL has signed two former Bears this summer, Radek Smolenak and Jonathan Cheechoo. A brief but turbulent history between Slovan and Medvescak guarantees that fire won’t be lacking in the game, even though it’s just a preparation one.
“The game against Slovan on August 16 will give us a true insight to where we stand as a team before the very start of the season,” concluded Fox.
Video source: www.khl.ru
However, it has to be noted that this isn’t the full schedule and that additions in the manner of games and other events are expected and they will be announced on the club’s official sites.
Preseason game schedule:
02.08.2016., Karlovy Vary, KHL MEDVEŠČAK ZAGREB – HK AVANGARD OMSK
13.08.2016., Cardiff, HC CARDIFF DEVILS – KHL MEDVESCAK ZAGREB
14.08.2016., Cardiff, HC CARDIFF DEVILS – KHL MEDVESCAK ZAGREB
16.08.2016., Bratislava, HK SLOVAN BRATISLAVA – KHL MEDVESCAK ZAGREB