If we had seven Paniks we could compete with the top teams, says Slovak Stefan Mikes

If we had seven Paniks we could compete with the top teams, says Slovak Stefan Mikes

16 Jan 2011 | David Schlegel

Slovakian U20 coach Stefan Mikes arrived cautious at the World U20 Championship in Buffalo. "We will work very hard but do not ask me about our goals. It may vary from one game to another one." After beating Germany in overtime he was extremely happy. "Our team showed a big heart. We played as a team and if we continue this way, we can play a successful tournament," he smiled brightly.


After a loss against Switzerland, a heavy night came. "We allowed cheap early goals, managed to equalize the game, but then made a stupid mistake and lost. I will remember this game for a long time. What a pity.” said Mikes. A victory against Norway in the Relegation Round brought relief and when the Czech Republic beat Germany in the last minute of play, securing Slovakia’s spot in the elite division, the burden fell off his back. "What a terrible game this was", Mikes said after the Czech Republic - Germany game.

What are your comments about the Slovakian performance at U20 in Buffalo?

We wanted to make it into the quarterfinals, but we failed. I am angry and very disappointed. However, we must admit that a better place than 8th, possibly 7th, is too high for our U20 team. I insisted that even two years ago, when our team fought for the medals.

You always manage to advance at least to the quarterfinal round though, don’t you?

We always prefer to have bolder goals than our standard is. When we want to meet them, everything has to work better than well. Nobody is afraid of Slovakia now. We can surprise like we did two years ago in Ottawa, where we beat the United States in the quarterfinals.

In the crucial games Slovakia missed two defensemen - Peter Hrasko and Martin Marincin, who were suspended for 2, respectively 3 games.

I do not want to make any excuses about that. We did not talk about it even in the locker room because I wanted the players to stay positive. However, now the tournament is over and I should state that Hrasko and Marincin were supposed to be the defensive leaders of our team. They made their fouls in the game against the United States, where there was nothing at stake for us.

What are the main points where the Slovakian youngsters fell short in compared to the top teams?

It is definitely not in tactics or in personal or team discipline. Also, the number of penalties came about because of individual shortages. Our players are not used to the pace of game which was being played at the games of the championship. It was much faster than it is in Slovakia. They are worse at skating and not as skilled with their hockey sticks during a physical game in front of the net. They are one step behind and therefore they foul.

Last year you criticized Tomas Tatar (debuted this year for Detroit and immediately scored) and Richard Panik that they did not play for the team wholeheartedly. This time, captain Panik was way better than the rest of the team, and scored seven goals.

I do not want to go back to what was last year. Panik showed himself to be not only a great hockey player, but also a great leader. It is too bad he plays only in junior CHL in Canada, as he is too good for such a league. Had we had one Riso Panik in our goal, three Paniks in our defense and four Paniks in our offense, we could measure up against the top teams of the world.

Our U20 team plays Slovakian Slovnaft extraliga. They earned only one point this season. There were 12 players on the Slovakian roster in Buffalo from the U20 team "Orange Puchov". What is the future of this experiment?

I say just one sentence. If we go to Buffalo with a team playing Slovakian junior extraleague, we would come back as members of Division I.

Will the U20 team Orange Puchov stay in Slovnaft extraliga for the upcoming season?

The project for upcoming years is still not done. The sport committee works on it. Some things will change, improve and you will see the result soon.

Will you continue as a coach of this team?

I do not see any reason to comment this. Please wait.

Slovakia´s roster in the WJC in Buffalo
Slovakia´s player stats in the WJC in Buffalo
Slovakia´s games in the WJC in Buffalo
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