Goodnight and Good Luck – Slovak Snipers (Ondrej Lauko and Viktor Kubenko)

With Marek Dubec being announced as the Bison’s final import for the 2011-12 we say goodbye to our top points scorers in “The Fox in the Box” Ondrej Lauko and “Slovak Machine Never Breaks” Viktor Kubenko.


There was part of me that wanted to do an individual one for each of these guys but I decided against it and instead do one bumper length GNGL to the two players who have arguably had the greatest impact on the Bison in terms of scoring since the club joined the EPL.


What have we lost?


Fan favourites mainly as well as our top two point scorers for the past two seasons. Lauko scored 189 points in 108 EPL games in his two seasons in Basingstoke, Kubenko scored 84 in 53 games with two 2nd team all star appearances between the two of them.


As has been mentioned in other blog articles, media and…well pretty much anyone who has watched Bison hockey has noted, Moria has gone for players with obvious pedigree but unproven in the EPL. There is part of me that wanted both back, to be fair I’d have not really said no to all four imports returning.


I personally loved watching Lauko and Kubenko; they rarely played on a line together but when they were both on form they could tear holes in defences single handedly. They both came to the Bison having played in the Polish superleague where they’d had career years then came to Britain and made teams fear playing the Bison.


Where have they gone?


As of the moment, officially nowhere. At the season launch night Moria did mention that he thought Kubenko was likely to retire. Slovak Machine has a wife and children in Slovakia who he’d left behind during the season who apparently he had visited on a couple of occasions and now it seems he will have a chance to be closer to them.


Lauko got married earlier in the summer so congrats to him and Alena and all the best on their life together. There had been a few rumours that Tony Hand was sniffing after Lauko at the start of the summer but those have gone quiet.


Who replaces them?


I like easy questions. Coach Moria has replaced the Slovak Snipers version 1 with the Slovak Snipers 2.0 in the form of Daniel Volrab and Marek Dubec. Rather than signing Slovaks off the back of career years in the Polish league, we have players who have seen lots of time between them in the Czech and Slovak top divisions as well as being deemed good enough to be drafred by NHL franchises. Volrab also played with Mike Green (which being a Caps fan I will mention…a lot)

My point is whilst we’ve lost two very popular players, I’m inclined to believe we’ve replaced them with two players of a similar standard.


Final words


Well what can we say? Lauko’s two years at the club were just amazing to watch. He was so good in his first season that I pretty much instantly ordered a #67 Lauko jersey for this season just gone. His link up play with Nicky Chinn and Oli Bronnimann made for one of the most potent lines in the EPL in terms of scoring. He had an uncanny eye for goal and made the Bison an attacking threat whenever he hit the ice.


Viktor Kubenko started slow and then stamped his dominance on the EPL with some dazzling displays of talent and skill. For anyone who remembers the last home game of the regular season against Milton Keynes and Kubenko’s natural hattrick that left Lightning netminder Barry Hollyhead wondering what century it was, we knew that he was a special player in this level.


They weren’t here for a long time but it was a good time. Their hashtags are naturally retired (#SlovakMachineNeverBreaks was one I made up myself and the fact it got onto Bison TV will forever make me laugh) and I’m sure any of us would happily welcome them back with open arms.

Take care lads, we’ll miss you.


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