ASTANA – Astana’s major hockey team, Barys, enters this preseason with a new coach, Ari-Pekka Selin, a longtime head coach in the Finnish hockey league and previously an assistant coach on the Finnish men’s national hockey team.
“Astana has made a good impression: they pay a lot of attention to hockey. For example, a new 12,000-seat arena is going to be built. The team basically consists of Kazakh players, whom I don’t know well yet. There are also some Canadians. A few positions require strengthening,” Selin said after taking the position.
Barys has seen a change at the goalkeeper position too: Ari Ahonen, previously with the Metallurgist from Magnitogorsk has replaced Teemu Lassila. Ahonen will share the position with veteran Vitali Yeremeyev.
The team’s defensive ranks, traditionally its weakest link, have been joined by the American Michael Lundin, who played for the U.S. National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators, and Kazakhstan players Yeugeny Blokhin and Maxim Semenov from the Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik and the Yaroslavl Locomotive.
Fans of Barys will see their favourites on the ice in August, when Astana will open the traditional tournament for the prize of the President of Kazakhstan.