5.6.17 HC Sparta

Saponari: Sparta has great reputation and quality

American forward VINNY SAPONARI is one of the new Spartan players before 2017/2018 season. 27-year-old silver and bronze medals holder from U18 world championships spent last season in Norwegian team Frisk Asker and did great. "It was perfect place for the start of my European career. Norwegian league is better than people think," says Saponari.

Vinny, you are not the well known player for the Spartan supporters. What can they expect from you on the ice?
I would say I am a playmaker. I am a player who wants to control the puck as much as possible. I use good vision and hockey sense to try and create space for me and my line mates. I am able to use my body well to protect the puck and hold of defenders while trying to make plays.

Vinny Saponari had great season in Frisker Ask. He gained 72 points in 60 games.

That will be your second season in Europe. Why did you choose Sparta´s offer?
I wanted to advance in level. I have heard good things about the Czech league and thought it would be a good opportunity to advance competition. Norway was a good place to start my European career, but I was always planning to advance.

Do you know anyone of your new teammates?
I played against Alex Reichenberg last year in Norway, but other than that I do not know anyone on Sparta.

Was the beautiful city of Prague one of the reasons, why did you choose this offer? Have you ever been in Prague before?
I think most importantly it was the quality of the club and level of play on the ice that drew me to Sparta. However, being in a city like Prague is a huge bonus. I have been to Prague once when I was younger when I played at a five nations tournament for U18 USA team.

I didn´t get a chance I would deserved in AHL

You played in Norway last year and it was a successful season for you. Are you happy with your performance and statistics? What do you think about Norwegian league?
I am happy with my season in Norway. Like I said it was a great place to start my European career. It isn´t easy coming over to Europe and not knowing much about where your going, so I am happy I ended up in Asker and was able to be successful. The Norwegian league is much better than people would think. The top end players are very talented. I think it is a league that will continue to get better and better.

After seasons in the AHL or ECHL you went to Europe. Why did you do that?
I had some successful seasons in both the AHL and ECHL, but it is a lot of moving up and down and changing teams. I felt when I was in the AHL I wasn´t playing the role I deserved to be based on my performance because of younger prospects or guys with bigger contracts. I wanted to come to Europe and start fresh and work my way up levels and prove my skill set.

You were chosen by Atlanta on 2008 draft, but you didn´t get a chance in the NHL. Are you disappointed with that?
I am definitely disappointed to have never played in the NHL. I was able to play in the preseason with the Nashville Predators, but never a regular season game. I think it is a big reason I came to Europe; like I said before, it can get very frustrating to feel like you have earned a shot but never be given it.

You played with some Czech players in the AHL. In Milwaukee with Marek Mazanec for example. Are you in contact with some of Czech players?
I haven´t spoken to Marek since I signed in Prague, but I´m sure I will in the near future. I also played with Richard Nejezchleb and I have spoken to him about the league and Prague. It is nice to have some guys to ask who know Czech and the league.

Myslím si, že by USA vsadily na mix mladých hráčů z univerzit a zkušených kluků z Evropy, takže doufám, že mi k tomu výkony ve Spartě pomůžou.
Vinny Saponari o účasti na olympijských hrách v Jižní Koreji

In 2008 you played at the World Championship U18 with Brandon Maxwell. He plays in Mladá Boleslav now. Did you talk with him about Sparta and Tipsport extraleague?
I did talk with Brandon. He welcomed me to the league and had good things to say about Sparta and the Extraliga, so that was nice to hear.

Olympic games without NHL players? Sparta can help me to be there

It were two successful years. In 2007 and 2008 you get sivler and bronze medals. How do you remember these tournaments in Finland and Russia?
The world championships were great experiences and times I will never forget. Playing for and representing your country gives you pride like nothing else. In Finland in 2007, we made it to a gold medal game and lost a really exciting game to Russia. In 2008 in Kazan, we lost to Russia in a semi final game in front of a sold out crazy Russian crowd so that was a fun experience/game to play in. Then we were able to come back and beat a very talented Swedish team in the Bronze medal game.

Vinny Saponari played 14 games at 2007 and 2008 U18 world championships

In 2007 you played with Kevin Shattenkirk, RyanMcDonagh or James Van Riemsdyk. Canada had Drew Doughty or Kyle Turris, Swedish team had Victor Hedman. How do you rememeber these players? Were they better than the other?
There was a ton of talented players in both world championships I played in. I remember Steven Stamkos on Canada and Erik Karlsson on Sweden were two players I really remember stood out in the tournament. Van Riemsdyk and Shattenkirk were players that I was fortunate enough to play with a lot and I had no doubt they would be successful NHLers.

That was your last experience in the national team so far. But at Olympic Games in South Korea in 2018 won´t be players from the NHL. Do you think this is a chance for you and other players in Europe?
Well first, I think it is sad if the NHLers are not able to go. The Olympic Games are something really special for the fans of every country and for the players who get to represent their countries. However, from a personal standpoint I would love an opportunity to represent USA in the olympics. I would be interested to see who USA hockey would choose if their NHLers are not available. I think they would choose a mix of young players from college and experienced players from Europe, so hopefully playing in Sparta will put me in that mix. But now I am looking forward to new team, teammates, fans and new challenge.

Foto: pinimg.com

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