VIERUMAKI – Looking at the rosters of the 2016 IIHF Women’s High-Performance Camp there can always interesting names be found. One that caused reason for speculation at the camp at the Sport Institute of Finland in Vierumaki is... Tretyak. Milena Tretyak.
Could the young lady, who will celebrate her 16th birthday next week, be a relative to legendary Vladislav Tretiak, same like a certain Maxim Tretiak, the grandson who represented Russia in one Youth Olympics and an U18 World Championship in the last few years? After all, like the hockey legend and President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia, she’s a goalie.
But Milena Tretyak dismisses any chance of being a relative. Actually, she technically even doesn’t share the same surname. In Russian her family name is spelled Третяк, the one of the legendary Soviet goalie Третьяк has a so-called soft sign that slightly changes the pronunciation (and the English equivalents of their names).
Tretyak comes from Istra, 40 kilometres west of Moscow, and plays with the boys born in 2002 for her youth team Orbita Zelenograd. She started when she was 7 years old following her brother.
“We usually just came to the rink to watch games but then the coach suggested us to try to skate a bit. We succeeded and joined and then they were looking for a goalie,” Tretyak explains. That’s how Tretyak and her friend Valeria Merkusheva have become goalies. And they’re still together – with their club team, on the U18 women’s national team and even here in Vierumaki.
Still, Vladislav Tretiak is of course no unknown to her and her family. Her two years older brother’s name is even Vladislav (but despite that he plays forward). And she met the goalie legend and had the chance to speak with him since she visited his goalie camp.
“I’m asked about my name quite often and I know him because I visited Vladislav Tretiak’s goalie camps in Riga and Dmitrov,” she says. “It was very tough in the beginning because the majority of the group are boys and to be on the same level is tough. But it’s good because you’re getting better on physical, technical and tactical level.”
In her free time she often practises with her brother, if possible on the ice, and likes to play table tennis with her friends.
While Tretyak has mostly played with the boys’ class of 2002 in junior championships in the Moscow area, she joined the women’s U18 national team together with her one year older teammate Valeria Merkusheva last season. And because her number one was used by a different player she had to select a new number. She took number 20, the one the great Vladislav Tretiak used in numerous World Championships and Olympic Games.
“My goal is to reach the top level, to never give up and get better every day. I try to watch others’ mistakes to learn how to improve my own game,” Tretyak says.
In Vierumaki she’s part of a Russian delegation that includes five players, long-time national team player Yekaterina Smolina as a coach and team manager Yaroslav Frantsev who were split among the mixed teams with players from the top-15 countries from last year’s IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program as well as the next Olympic host Korea. For Tretyak to be in such an international group is a totally new experience with a lot of off-ice, on-ice and classroom sessions scheduled after yesterday’s fitness testing.
“It took some time to get used to. It wasn’t easy in the beginning to find a common language but when they show us things we catch it and understand what to do,” she says about the language barrier.
After having been the third goalie of the U18 women’s national team last year, she’s aiming for a better spot on the roster for the upcoming two seasons with the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship as the immediate goal.
“I will try to give my best and believe in myself. You should believe and expect that you will get a call from the national team and if you’re not on the team you need to make conclusions and keep on working,” Tretyak says.
This next edition will be staged in Prerov and Zlin in the Czech Republic next January. And in Vierumaki she will learn many things she can take with her on the path to the tournament. Click here for more information and photos from the camp.