From Vierumaki to Vilnius

Aleinikovas makes goalies populate Lithuanian capital

24.06.2015
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The participants of Arunas Aleinikovas’ goalie camp pose for an all-goalie photo in front of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Vladislaus in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Photo: LLR

VILNIUS – A former participant at the annual IIHF Hockey Development Camp, former Lithuanian national goalie Arunas Aleinikovas now runs a goalie camp of his own in Vilnius, hoping to breed future netminders from Lithuania and neighbouring countries.

Around 30 kids participated in the camp, including 18 2006-2008-born goalies from Lithuania but also some from Belarus, Latvia and Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave nestled between Lithuania, Poland and the Baltic Sea; as well as new youth hockey coaches who recently launched their career.

After learning more from international experts about coaching goalies and goalie coaches, the camp was a first chance for Aleinikovas to organize an event and share his knowledge.

The 37-year-old Trakai native represented his country in 13 senior World Championship events and spent most of his career in his home country for Energija Elektrenai and in the Belarusian Extraliga. He’s served as goaltending coach for all Lithuania’s national teams and last season moved to Neman Grodno, his former club in Belarus close to the Lithuanian border with which he won the IIHF Continental Cup five months ago and will play in the Champions Hockey League soon.

In Vilnius he was supported by three goalies from Belarus, his own goalie in Grodno, Maxim Samankov, former Belarusian national goalie Leonid Grishukevich of HK Gomel and Vladislav Kuzmin of Vitebsk.

While goalie camps often go unnoticed in bigger cities, this was certainly not the case in this event.

After five days of training on and off the ice, the crew left the rink on the last day to tour through the city centre of the Lithuanian capital on an open bus and on foot with all gear on and cause a summery surprise to the puzzled pedestrians with their flashmob-style oldtown visit (see video).

On their path they posed for a team photo in front of Vilnius’ cathedral. Dozens of kids gathered together all in goalie gear and looking forward to playing their first games after the summer break.

The next IIHF Hockey Development Camp in Vierumaki, Finland, will take place soon, 4-11 July 2015.

MARTIN MERK

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