MOSCOW – The Russian Hockey Federation has named Mikhail Varnakov new head coach of the U20 national team that will compete in the 2013 World Juniors on home ice in Ufa. Mikhail Chekanov takes over the women’s national team.
The 54-year-old replaces Valeri Bragin as U20 national team coach, who was coaching the team for the last two years including the gold-medal win in 2011.
The former Soviet national team forward represented his country in three World Championships (1985-1987) including the 1986 team, the last one to win World Championship gold on home ice, in Moscow. He also played in the 1984 Canada Cup, the 1979 Challenge Cup between the Soviets and the NHL All-Stars in New York and on several other occasions. In total he played 87 games for the Soviet national team.
Varnakov spent most of his career for his hometown club Torpedo Gorki (today known as Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod) except for the 1977/1978 season he spent with CSKA Moscow where he won one Soviet title before returning to Gorki.
Despite leaving the army team, Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov forgave him and called him to the national team as one of very few players not joining from one of the big Moscow clubs.
Varnakov was a head coach for Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod – where his son plays – for several years and for Amur Khabarovsk. He was also working as an assistant coach for current Russian national coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov at Dynamo Moscow and Ak Bars Kazan in the top Russian league.
For the past two years Varnakov has been head coach of HK Sarov in the second-tier league VHL.
Russia will play Canada, Slovakia, the USA and Germany in the preliminary round of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship on home ice in Ufa, 26 December 2012 to 5 January 2013.
Chekanov takes over women’s team
After four years with Valentin Gureyev, the Russian Hockey Federation appointed a new head coach for the women’s national team.
The new face behind the bench is Mikhail Chekanov, who was coaching the Chinese women’s national team this season.
The 50-year-old has worked for the federation already before for U17 and U16 (men’s) national teams.
Russia will play at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in the Canadian capital of Ottawa – the last big event before the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
The board of the Russian Hockey Federation approved Mikhail Chekanov as women’s national team coach on Friday. Photo: Maxim Lyubinov / FHR