Following the East Group’s award ceremony, multiple Soviet ice hockey champion and European Champions Cup holder Sergei Gimaev shares his impressions of the Gazprom Neft Cup final — and throws in some memories of Sergei Makarov’s legendary
— Sergei Nailevich, how do you rate what you saw at the Tournament?
— You can’t imagine what kind of mammoth task it is to organize a tournament! Besides that, to play to a full crowd in such an arena is an incredible experience for the children, and it is a crucial stage in their further sporting career. There are more teams in the Tournament now and we see what kind of efforts the organizers make so the children can play ice hockey. This is the largest event of its kind I have ever seen.
— And the final?
— Avangard looked stronger in the first period and then Ak-Bars scored an illogical goal. But the result was fair as the Kazan players controlled play in the second half of the game.
— The Tournament saw some big scores like 18:1. Is that good for the teams?
— It’s not good for anyone to lose by a big margin. But sometimes it happens that a team you can crush at home suddenly does the same to you, and you understand what you are made of. But there were no such scores in the final stages, the opponents were all evenly matched.
— During the group stage Ak-Bars forward Dmitry Katelevsky scored seven times in one game. Have you heard of anything like this before?
— Of course! I remember Sergei Makarov who came to Ufa with Traktor and personally put 11 pucks in the net. I was simply blown away by him! He was about 12 but he was already unbelievable.
— The Finnish team Jokerit took part on the Gazprom Neft Cup for the first time this year. Is that a significant stage of development?
— The Tournament plays under the banner of the KHL, various countries and participants in the league take part and that is wonderful. But these tournaments are more important for our boys.
— What would you like to wish the participants in the current Gazprom Neft Cup?
— You have chosen the right sport! Be proud that you play in teams of such a high calibre. However, bear in mind you’re only 10, so if you want to play to the highest level, train hard and love your hockey. And study hard in school!