Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lev starts 0-2, heads on the road

As an expansion team, big things are not expected from HC Lev Poprad this season. The KHL, generally regarded as the second-best league in the world, boasts many names that are internationally known in the world of hockey, but Lev's roster is relatively annonymous by comparison. Few players are well-known outside of the Czech and Slovak Republics. The only players with NHL experience are defencemen Branislav Mezei and Karel Pilař and forwards Ľuboš BartečkoLadislav Nagy and Václav Nedorost. There are a few others with previous KHL experience, but mostly as depth players. So when they can compete against top teams in the league, it's a promising sign.

Ľuboš Bartečko (left) scored Lev's first 2 goals. Photo: Ľuboš
They did just that in their home opener on Monday against Metallurg Magnitogorsk, one of Russia's powerhouses over the past decade. Though the visitors jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second period, it was Bartečko, the captain, who almost single-handedly got them back even. In the last minute of the second period, he put his name in the history books with Lev's first goal, as he ripped a slapshot over the glove of goaltender Georgiy Gelashvili. In the third, he scored a fluky goal from behind the goal line and then almost tied it with about three minutes to play, as Gelashvili stoned him from point-blank. An empty-netter made it a 4-2 final.

"My two goals went upstairs," Bartečko said figuratively, while gesturing to the sky. "I gave them to Paľo (fallen friend Pavol Demitra), he was with us. It's just too bad we weren't able to win."

"The goal at the end of the second got us going again," said coach Radim Rulík. "During the break before the final period, we said that we've got to give an effort for a full 60 minutes. In the third period we were the better team."

"Leo" leads an enthusiastic gathering at Aréna Poprad.
Friday's game was close most of the way, with Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk holding a slim 1-0 lead late in the third period. Lev put on all sorts of pressure in the final frame, but couldn't get the equalizer before Yugra scored twice in under a minute to put the game out of reach with four minutes to play. Tomáš Netík finally broke the goose-egg with just three seconds on the clock, and the game finished 3-1.

Though they didn't pick up any points in the standings, they did win some points with the crowd for their determination late in the games. The sold-out crowds were really into both games, chanting "Poprad! Poprad!" and singing throughout. The team even has a song, already, which the club has released on YouTube.

The team now heads out on its first road trip, with the first stop being St. Petersburg to take on SKA on Monday. The game starts at 17:00 CET and will be televised in the Czech and Slovak Republics on Nova Sport. That will be followed by a pair of games in the Moscow area against Atlant and CSKA before winding up against Dinamo Riga in the Latvian capital. They return home to play OHK Dynamo Moscow on September 30.

Below is the team's revised schedule for the season. The original home opener, scheduled for October 10 against Avangard Omsk, was of course postponed after the airline tragedy involving Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. The game has been re-scheduled to October 31. Also, the two games against Yaroslavl, highlighted below in red, have been cancelled and will not be made up against other clubs. The league schedule has therefore been reduced from 56 games to 54, the same number as was played last season. All times are Central European.

More information about the team can be found on the club's website, in English, at

2.Mon 12.9.2011 HC LEV Poprad Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2:4
3.Fri 16.9.2011 HC LEV Poprad Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk 1:3
4.Mon 19.9.2011 SKA St. Petersburg HC LEV Poprad17:00
5.Wed 21.9.2011 Atlant Moscow Oblast HC LEV Poprad17:30
6.Fri 23.9.2011 HC CSKA Moscow HC LEV Poprad17:30
7.Mon 26.9.2011 HC Dinamo Riga HC LEV Poprad18:30
8.Fri 30.9.2011 HC LEV Poprad OHK Dynamo Moscow19:00
9.Sun 2.10.2011 HC LEV Poprad Amur Khabarovsk17:00
10.Tue 4.10.2011 HC LEV Poprad HK Sibir Novosibirsk19:00
11.Thu 6.10.2011 HC LEV Poprad Metallurg Novokuznetsk19:00
12.Wed 12.10.2011 HC Dinamo Riga HC LEV Poprad18:30
13.Fri 14.10.2011 AK Bars Kazan HC LEV Poprad17:00
14.Sun 16.10.2011 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk HC LEV Poprad15:00
15.Tue 18.10.2011 HC Salavat Yulaev Ufa HC LEV Poprad15:00
16.Fri 21.10.2011 HC LEV Poprad HC Dinamo Riga19:00
17.Sun 23.10.2011 HC CSKA Moscow HC LEV Poprad13:00
18.Tue 25.10.2011 HC Dinamo Minsk HC LEV Poprad18:00
19.Thu 27.10.2011 HC LEV Poprad SKA St. Petersburg19:00
1.Mon 31.10.2011 HC LEV Poprad Avangard Omsk19:00
20.Wed 2.11.2011 HC LEV Poprad Severstal Cherepovets19:00
21.Fri 4.11.2011 HC LEV Poprad Vityaz Chekhov19:00
22.Sun 6.11.2011 HC LEV Poprad HC Spartak Moscow17:00
23.Wed 16.11.2011 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg HC LEV Poprad15:00
24.Fri 18.11.2011 Traktor Chelyabinsk HC LEV Poprad15:00
25.Sun 20.11.2011 HC Barys Astana HC LEV Poprad13:00
26.Tue 22.11.2011 SKA St. Petersburg HC LEV Poprad17:00
27.Sat 26.11.2011 HC LEV Poprad HC Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod17:00
28.Mon 28.11.2011 HC LEV Poprad Lokomotiv YaroslavlN/A
29.Wed 30.11.2011 HC LEV Poprad OHK Dynamo Moscow19:00
30.Mon 5.12.2011 Avangard Omsk HC LEV Poprad14:00
31.Wed 7.12.2011 Metallurg Magnitogorsk HC LEV Poprad15:00
32.Fri 9.12.2011 Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk HC LEV Poprad15:00
33.Sun 11.12.2011 HC Spartak Moscow HC LEV Poprad15:00
34.Tue 20.12.2011 HC LEV Poprad HC Dinamo Riga19:00
35.Thu 22.12.2011 HC LEV Poprad SKA St. Petersburg19:00
36.Sat 24.12.2011 HC LEV Poprad Atlant Moscow Oblast13:00
37.Mon 26.12.2011 HC LEV Poprad HC CSKA Moscow17:00
38.Tue 3.1.2012 HC LEV Poprad HC Spartak Moscow19:00
39.Fri 6.1.2012 HK Sibir Novosibirsk HC LEV Poprad12:00
40.Sun 8.1.2012 Metallurg Novokuznetsk HC LEV Poprad12:00
41.Tue 10.1.2012 Amur Khabarovsk HC LEV Poprad10:00
42.Thu 12.1.2012 OHK Dynamo Moscow HC LEV Poprad17:30
43.Sun 15.1.2012 HC LEV Poprad AK Bars Kazan17:00
44.Tue 17.1.2012 HC LEV Poprad HC Salavat Yulaev Ufa19:00
45.Thu 19.1.2012 HC LEV Poprad Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk19:00
46.Thu 26.1.2012 HC LEV Poprad HC CSKA Moscow19:00
47.Sat 28.1.2012 HC LEV Poprad HC Dinamo Minsk17:00
48.Tue 31.1.2012 Vityaz Chekhov HC LEV Poprad17:00
49.Thu 2.2.2012 Severstal Cherepovets HC LEV Poprad17:00
50.Sat 4.2.2012 HC Spartak Moscow HC LEV Poprad15:00
51.Wed 15.2.2012 HC LEV Poprad Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg19:00
52.Fri 17.2.2012 HC LEV Poprad Traktor Chelyabinsk19:00
53.Sun 19.2.2012 HC LEV Poprad HC Barys Astana17:00
54.Wed 22.2.2012 OHK Dynamo Moscow HC LEV Poprad17:30
55.Fri 24.2.2012 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl HC LEV PopradN/A
56.Sun 26.2.2012 HC Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod HC LEV Poprad13:00

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