International Ice Hockey Federation

Slovakia’s top line tops

Slovakia’s top line tops

All 3 in top 6 of scoring race, team 4th in goals

Published 30.12.2013 14:41 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Slovakia’s top line tops
Slovak forward Martin Reway jumps over a German player to avoid collision. Photo: Francois Laplante / HHOF-IIHF Images
Slovakia has positioned itself nicely to advance to the quarter-finals and bypass the ignominy of the relegation round.

It is doing so thanks largely to the top line featuring Martin Reway, David Griger, and captain Milan Kolena.

The team's 12 goals in two games is behind only Sweden and the United States (19 goals) and Russia (18 goals), although the Swedes and Americans have played one more game than Slovakia.

Over the course of the team’s 9-2 win over Germany and 6-3 loss to the United states, this threesome has scored seven of the 12 goals and recorded 17 of 32 scoring points. Indeed, the line has carried the team on its shoulders for now, and with games against Canada (Monday) and the Czech Republic remaining (Tuesday), a little help from the other three lines would be welcome.

"It's not what we thought. We thought we had four good lines that could score," Reway admitted. "But it's only two games, so we'll see. Right now it's us, but that's our job. We have to lead the team."

Reway is tied for most goals in the tournament. He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens 116th overall in 2013 and is the youngest member of the line. He will be especially happy to play Canada because he has played for Gatineau in the QMJHL the last two seasons. The team’s head coach, Benoît Groulx, is an assistant to Brent Sutter here in Malmö.

“He has taught me a lot,” Reway enthused. “He works me hard, but I don’t think I’ve had a better coach. He changed my game. I’m a different player this year from last year. The Montreal Canadiens told me the same thing after they drafted me.”

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More specifically, Reway has learned to be more responsible and to play for the team, not for himself. “He told me to go to the net. Don’t lose pucks at the blue line. Simple things. When you turn the puck over, bad things will happen. Make the easy plays and think of the team more.”

Kolena also has five points (3+2) and is tied with four players for most goals. Undrafted by the NHL, he has played with Slovan Bratislava in the KHL this past season. He and Reway are two of the few returning players from the 2013 U20 in Ufa and know their role this year.

“The guys who played last year are a year older now and have bigger responsibilities for the team,” he suggested. “I played with Martin last year and we played well every time we were on the ice together. David is also skilled. He has played in the Czech league and Russian league. He’s smart and knows how to play with the puck. He could play on any line. But we had a good camp as a unit, and the coach has kept us together.”

Griger, also born in 1994, has one goal, five assists and is tied for second-most assists so far. He has played in the Slovak senior league this season.

The one earlier common element between the three is that they all played for Slovakia at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division I Group A. Kolena was also captain of that team which won the group to move up to the top pool for 2013.

The other common thread is that the coach of the 2012 U18 team, Ernest Bokros, has also been the coach of the U20 for the last three seasons, from 2012 to the present year. Bokros knows his players well, and knows this trio is dynamite together. What he needs is scoring from his other three lines.

In the meantime, the Kolena-Reway-Griger combination will do what it can to get the team into the playoffs.


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