Jan Lipiansky, 37, is a veteran player for Slovan Bratislava that has travelled a lot through Europe with his former teams from Finland, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Bratislava native is expected to be a leader in the rebuilt squad.
If you look back on last season, what would be your summary of it?
Last season was very tough and complicated for us. On one hand, we couldn´t have started better; we won a prestigious summer tournament in Basel. However, from the very beginning of the season we had been struggling with many injuries, especially among defense players. It affected our performance in a very negative way. Our form was quite shaky, with so many ups-and-downs. I hardly remember anything like that in my career. One month we played a good quality hockey, the next we played completely wrong, with minimum healthy players in the roster. There were quite a few narrow games that we had lost by one goal difference. Our performance naturally influenced the overall mood in the locker room, in the management as well as among the fans. The changes had been inevitable, including a new head coach. We did our best but failed to consolidate it. After all, the end of the season – having lost quarterfinals 3:4 in the best of seven series while having been 3:0 ahead – just mirrored the whole season.
What are you doing in the off-season?
As we lost in the quarterfinals, we were having a bit longer break which I took advantage of for having a rest. However, the pre-season summer practice has begun much earlier than usually, in April. The summer practice was very good; I believe we are well prepared for the next season. If we somehow manage to stay all healthy this time I am sure we will be a strong team, difficult to beat.
How would you compare European Trophy to other club tournaments you’ve played?
In general, international club ice-hockey has experienced a great deal of progress. The pace of the game is much higher on the international level than in our league. We did have some problems adapting to faster pace of game last year at the Basel tournament but after two games we succeeded. For Slovan it is only good we will be able to play against the top European hockey clubs. This is the only way for us to improve further. We want to play good ice hockey in European Trophy with focus on good results. However, we need to bear in our minds that the climax of the season will only follow. Before the first game of regulation, there are 11 games for us, including 8 within the European Trophy. It is therefore probable that we´ll be testing more players and not everybody will play all the games.
Who will be your strongest rival for winning your division?
I believe Linköpings HC has an excellent team, as well as Kärpät Oulu. I admire the way the Finnish and Swedish players can skate. Eisbären Berlin is an absolute top of the DEL for many years; there are some interesting players in their roster from overseas. One team is better than the other, so to say. We respect every team we are about to play with. I haven´t particularly looked at the rosters but from my previous seasons I do know a couple of guys from Finland. So let´s see what familiar faces I will spot on the ice.
What will be your goal for the upcoming season?
We want to be best prepared. We will play in the new arena so we can expect a lot of supporters. To put it simply, we want to help Slovan return where it belongs, on the top. But above all, we want to leave our hearts on the ice.European Trophy