ZAGREB, September 7 (R-Sport) – Former San Jose Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo said the crowd at his first KHL game was louder than in the NHL as he debuted in style.
Cheechoo scored twice Friday as his Medvescak Zagreb demolished the storied CSKA Moscow 7-1 in a packed arena in Croatia, but one that held just 7,500 fans, less than half of the NHL's average attendance last season.
“It’s definitely comparable to an NHL rink, probably even louder, so it’s fun to play in front of them,” said Cheechoo.
“What we got here will be a great home ice advantage for us. You don’t get this much home ice advantage in North America, so it’s fun to be a part of it over here. In the AHL, maybe you get as many fans but they're definitely not as loud.”
The 33-year-old right wing spent the last four years in the AHL after seven NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators and San Jose where he won the Maurice Richard Trophy in 2006, scoring 56 goals in the regular season.
Cheechoo added that Medvescak, mostly composed of Canadian and American players with NHL and AHL experience, has every chance to succeed in its first season in the KHL after leaving the Austrian league.
“We’ve been preparing all training camps for this, we’ve been working hard and we knew we had a great group of guys here,” Cheechoo said. “So everything is possible and hopefully we can keep doing what we’ve been doing. We came out here, we worked hard and we got to keep doing this for us to be successful.”
Medvescak has home games against Dinamo Riga on Sunday, Lev Prague on Tuesday and Slovan Bratislava on Friday.