Kalaber to coach Poland
by Martin Merk|28 JUN 2020
Robert Kalaber was coaching the Bulgarian national team for two years.
photo: Kostadin Andonov
The Polish Ice Hockey Association signed Slovak coach Robert Kalaber to serve as new head coach of the men’s national team. He will replace Tomek Valtonen.

The 50-year-old Bratislava native moved to Poland in 2014 to coach club team JKH GKS Jastrzebie and led the team to silver and bronze medals in the Polish Hockey League and two Polish Cup titles in 2018 and 2019. Before moving to Poland he was the head coach of Dukla Trencin in his home country.

In addition, he got international experience by coaching Bulgaria in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III in 2018 and 2019 and led it to promotion last year.

“Coach Kalaber knows the realities of the Polish Hockey League very well. He works great with young players, which will be of great importance in building a strong Polish national team,” said Polish Ice Hockey Association President Miroslaw Minkina.

It was agreed that Kalaber will coach both the national team while continuing to coach JKH GKS Jastrzebie.

One of the main goals of the new coach will be to develop young players. “I will talk with the U16, U18 and U20 team coaches to standardize training,” said Kalaber. “I noticed that Polish juniors are well prepared tactically, but they are worse physically. The boys have to train more.”

Poland will host the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B on home ice in Katowice at the historic Spodek arena and hopes to return to the Division I Group A.

“It’s great that we will play in front of our own audience. Our goal is promotion,” the new head coach declared. “I liked how the team performed in the times of Tomek Valtonen, but of course I have my ideas. We want to play fast and spectacularly. In exhibition matches we will check different options, and in the most important matches the game system will be adapted to each of the rivals.”

Poland will play Lithuania, Japan, Estonia, Ukraine and Serbia for promotion in the tournament that is scheduled for 26 April to 2 May 2021.