Last year, Martin Gernát was the mainstay of the bronze medal defense at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, but he missed the World Championships due to a broken leg. He is now even more looking forward to the world championship in Latvia.
The 29-year-old defender feels at the peak of his career and believes that the generation of his peers will confirm the successful Olympics and the World Cup. He should join the team next week or after Easter.
Our generation is at the peak of its career, we want to confirm it with success, says defender MARTIN GERNÁT
Originally, the coaches were counting on you for the first unofficial camp in Bratislava, but you probably still needed to rest, right?
“Yes, we were on a short vacation in Dubai with my wife and daughter. Rišo Pánik and his family were also with us. Now I’ve started training at home and I’ll see if I can join next week or until the official meeting after Easter.’
Do you train at home in Prešov?
“Yes, I go to the ice with the juniors. I have someone to skate with, I also prepare individually in the gym and on inline skates.”
Did you have time to discuss the tactics towards the national team with Pánik a little while on vacation?
“Of course we talked about it. We also tried to call guys with whom we are in contact, so that as many of us as possible could come. I firmly believe that everyone who can will represent. A lot of us had short seasons.’
Not many people have seen Panik in action since he played more on the farm the last few years and then with you in the Swiss league. He was last in the national team at the home World Cup in 2019. How did you perceive his performances at the club?
“Rišo was useful when he came from America. However, given his potential, he was not given that much space. Then they did him a little ‘bad’, although it’s hard for me to evaluate it.”
Are you going into the national team with the idea that this could be Craig Ramsay’s last championship on the team’s bench?
“Certainly yes. The coach has already said several times that he is quitting, but they talked him into extending the cooperation. Therefore, we would like to come in as many as possible. Without the Russians, the core group is more favorable for us. We have a better chance to get a good result, but I don’t want to get ahead of anything.”
Peter Zuzin and Martin Gernát
After last year’s bronze Olympic season, the pressure from the fans will be greater. Are you ready for it?
“Yes, there will be pressure. Most of us are in our prime hockey age, at the peak of our careers. If we all come, the team will be very strong. At the Winter Olympics, we won the key match in the playoffs. If it succeeds at the World Cup, we can think about success. I look forward to it.”
You missed the championship last year because of a broken leg. are you ok now
“I have a few scars, but it’s nothing serious. That’s why I want to get involved in the preparation as soon as possible. After many years I haven’t played in the playoffs, I have enough energy.”
You finished with Lausanne at the beginning of March, so the break will be quite long. How do you perceive it?
“I think eight games in preparation will help. A lot of guys fell off the pace. It’s completely different at home than with the team. That’s why I started earlier to be ready.”
You had a contract with the club for another year, but you decided to end it. Why?
“Yes, I had, but we agreed on something. I tried to meet all the requirements, but at the last meetings they did not meet mine. They were still arguing. I evaluated the pros and cons. I knew two more foreigners would come, making it ten of us, but only six can play. That’s why we finally agreed to terminate the contract.”
Are you disappointed?
“Not at all, it’s a step forward for me. I played two good years, also in terms of individual statistics. I had the highest time on the ice. Our team had more to offer. Unfortunately, things happened that we as players could not influence and the final result did not come.”
Peter Cehlárik (right) and Martin Gernát
Would you like to stay in the Swiss NL?
“Yes, it is also my wife’s priority. We liked it in Switzerland. A few offers have come in, I’m letting it take its course.”
Kristián Pospíšil, the aforementioned Pánik, or Peter Cehlárik did not succeed in the competition. Why is it that in recent years you have made a significant impact in Switzerland as the only Slovak?
“It’s hard for me to evaluate it. I can say for myself that I went to a team that I know and the guys in it. I knew what they expected from me and how I had to play. It’s all about the coach and trust. Like the first year six seasons ago, or now, I played a lot. The given situations were easier for me than the guys who played less. That’s also why I had two almost thirty-point seasons.”
If we are not mistaken, you also went to watch the decisive match for the semi-finals between Třinec and Sparta. Didn’t Ocelarí, your former team, with whom you won two titles in the Czech extra league, break you back?
“Of course, as soon as I arrived, they asked me if I was coming back. I have been in contact with the management all year, they are great people. I am very happy to stop there, I like the atmosphere around Třinec hockey. It’s pleasant.”
What do you think about Libor Hudáček’s amazing goal in the promotion match against Sparta, when he put the puck between his legs and beat goalkeeper Jakub Kovář?
“We laughed in the skybox that Libor is the type who messes around a bit on the ice, and then pulls off such a genius piece. He definitely broke Sparta with his beautiful goal. He is a player of the moment, he can find a place. He showed his versatility and greatness again.”
How do you perceive the huge desire of Třinac, who has won the title three times in a row and is once again among the top four teams in the league?
“The guys have a winning mentality. I haven’t experienced such desire anywhere else, not even in training. The team is still hungry, can handle the pressure and has a huge heart. The club’s winning mentality is completely different from other teams where I worked.”