Sryubko brings workmanlike attitude to Ukraine
Friday, 24 August 2007
Originally published on IIHF.com in 2002
By Lucas Aykroyd
Ukraine is not exactly a team of big names. Aside from Dmitri Khristich, few of its forwards have had any impact in the NHL. Ukrainian-born defensemen like Alexei Zhitnik and Oleg Tverdovsky have represented Russia in the past and are unavailable for these Games.
So Ukraine cannot rely on individual talents to bring it victory. By the standards of European hockey, it’s a team of plow horses, not thoroughbreds. The workmanlike attitude of Andriy Sryubko epitomizes what Ukraine needs.
The 26-year-old Syracuse Crunch defenseman has answered the call for his country at the last three IIHF World Championships. If his name appears on the final scoresheet, it’s usually in terms of a solid plus-minus or a fistful of penalty minutes.
Sryubko has spent the past six seasons on the North American minor pro circuit. He started out with the Toledo Storm of the ECHL, where he served 403 minutes in the sin bin in just 112 games. Since then, the 6-2, 205-pound Kiev product has done tours of duty in such outposts as Port Huron, Fort Wayne and Las Vegas. He’s no stranger to Salt Lake City, as he appeared five games with the Utah Grizzlies in 1999-2000.
Currently, Sryubko’s rights belong to the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL. He’s known as “Scooby” to his teammates on this side of the Atlantic, since “Sryubko” is a bit of a tongue-twister for North Americans. IIHF.com’s Lucas Aykroyd interviewed the affable blueliner minutes after Ukraine improved to 1-1 in the Preliminary Round with a 5-2 thumping of Switzerland.
IIHF.com: How does it feel to beat a favored opponent like Switzerland?
Andriy Sryubko: Oh, we expected that! [responds with laughter to friendly helmet-patting and hollering by passing teammate] We worked pretty hard and we won!
IIHF.com: Were you surprised the Swiss pulled David Aebischer after you went up 3-1?
Sryubko: Actually, we started pretty good and we had a lot of shots, so? [shrugs]
IIHF.com: What does it take for a team like Ukraine to be successful in the Olympics?
Sryubko: Everybody is so excited. Everybody is ready for the games. Everybody works hard.
IIHF.com: With the number of penalty minutes you get back in North America, you’re obviously a guy who likes to play a physical style. Is it tough to adjust to the international game and a different style of refereeing?
Sryubko: Actually, that guy today [IIHF referee Kevin Acheson] was not bad. I think he’s from North America. But the game before, it was like a little slash or a little hold and you got two minutes right away. It was pretty hard to make the switch.
IIHF.com: Who are some of your hockey heroes?
Sryubko: I don’t know. I just like the best players, like [Sergei] Zubov and [Nicklas] Lidstrom. They’re pretty good.
IIHF.com: Would you say it was important for Ukraine to get up to 10th place at the World Championships in Germany?
Sryubko: Oh yeah! If you improve every year, you feel that the next year you will play better too, work harder, think better. It’s a mental thing. You feel good.
IIHF.com: What do you expect from France in your last game of the Preliminary Round on Wednesday?
Sryubko: Actually, I saw those guys play against Switzerland. They have pretty much the same team. But they’re actually pretty good at finishing their checks and playing tough. Oh yeah, they surprised me.