Oskars Bartulis: I Don’t Mind Being Called Askar

Bartulis 1Latvian hockey star and Astana Barys player Oskars Baruis recently played his first match with Barys against Metallurg from Novokuznetsk. Following the match, Bartulis spoke with The Astana Times about playing with his new team.

You’ve arrived, so to speak, from the ship to the ball. How has such a short adjustment period been in Astana?

The club management organised everything perfectly so that it was not necessary to think about anything other than hockey. Prior to arrival, I trained hard in Latvia.

In your debut match, you spent more than 25 minutes on the ice; this is the second longest time in the team. Isn’t that too rough a start?

The Barys coaching staff trusted me. They let me play both in the majority and in the minority, and in equal compositions. I just tried to play my best hockey. I really wanted to play.

For you it was the first match under the new rules…

Before the game, I consulted with partners on this issue. For example, when playing in the minority, you do not have much chance to shoot because the play area is much bigger. One needs to get used to it.

In your first match for Barys, you went on the ice together with Roman Savchenko. Did you find common language with him quickly?Bartulis

We had only one training session together and discussed some details. I think if things continue in the same vein, then with each game understanding with Savchenko will be better.

Your technique and style is reminiscent of legendary Latvian defender Sandis Ozolinsh. Did you specifically study it or is it just a coincidence?

Seriously? I didn’t train how to do it. By the way, it is an interesting comparison. It would be necessary to further explore his technique. Ozolinsh was my idol.

On the eve of your first match, Barys head coach Andrey Nazarov recalled the Olympic tournament match between the Canadians and the Latvian team, where you participated. He noted that for the Maple Leaves that was the most intense match in Sochi. Do you remember that game?

Yes, it was a very stubborn game, I remember it. The score was tied for a long time, but at the end of the match the Canadians put the squeeze on us, realising the game in the majority. We lacked just a little bit to win a historic victory for Latvia.

Have you had an opportunity to see Astana?

I haven’t had such an opportunity because I have spent all my time training and acclimatising. Now I have to concentrate on the games, and then if I have free time, I will have a look at Astana.

Your name is consonant with the Kazakh name Askar? Would you mind if the fans start calling you Askar?

No, I would not mind at all.

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