Kukla's Korner Hockey
by @DaveDavisHockey on 01/08/11 at 01:59 PM ET
As a linesman with the IIHF, Andriy Kicha had the best view in the house of the 2011 World Juniors in Buffalo. But big international tournaments aren’t exactly new to the Ukraine native - he also worked as a linesman at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
From hearing him speak, with a heavy Ukranian accent but a good handle on the English language, you can tell that he loves what he does.
We discussed the World Juniors, the media circus involving the Russian team, and one great aspect of working games with U20 players, during our conversation on Thursday as he was preparing to leave Buffalo for the long journey home.
DD: How many games did you work during the World Juniors tournament?
AK: I did five games, including the first Canada-Russia game (Canada won 6-3) and USA-Switzerland (USA won 2-1).
DD: Were you involved at all with the gold medal game?
AK: Yes, I was actually on standby as an alternate for the final game.
DD: Those of us who don’t understand Russian were curious what the kids were screaming into the camera during the celebration.
AK: Yes, it was wonderful because they were telling their moms and dads, “Look, we won! We are champs!” Some people thought they were saying bad things about Canada, but they weren’t at all.
DD: What do you think about all of the publicity over the Russian players drinking and being kicked off the airplane?
AK: They’re making a big deal out of it. So much pressure on those kids, and they win a big game like that so they celebrate and drink. This (concept) is nothing new. In Russia they can drink at that age with no problem. (DD note: Kicha was staying at the same hotel where the Russian players were allegedly partying and being served alcohol.)
DD: What’s it like working games with the kids as compared to older players?
AK: Very different. In Ukraine I work mostly senior leagues, and the older players will give you a hard time. You tell them to put their stick down for a faceoff and they yell at you, saying things like “Be quiet and do your job!” - but the kids on all of these junior teams were so respectful and very cooperative with us.
DD: Do you see Ukranian players returning home to play after their NHL careers are over?
AK: No, if they do they play in Russia. We only have one major league in Ukraine and they don’t play there because the hockey isn’t at a high enough level for them.
DD: Many good players have come from your country. Alexei Zhitnik was a big name here in Buffalo for awhile.
AK: Yes, he is from Ukraine, also Alexei Ponikarovsky is now I think in Los Angeles, and going back a bit there was Dmitri Khristich who played with a few NHL teams. Oh, and there’s Ruslan Fedotenko.
DD: Describe how great it was being a linesman at the Vancouver Olympics.
AK: It was better than great. Vancouver is so beautiful with all of the mountains and scenery. And with the Olympic tournament in Canada it was so crazy there.
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About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org