A true dynasty of ice hockey players was represented in Minsk as it hosted the 8th International Gazprom Neft Cup KHL Kids Ice Hockey Tournament, with father and son combination championing the colours of Dinamo (Minsk).
Andrei Mikhalev has played for the Belarus national team, while his son Miroslav is the captain of the Dinamo-2003 line-up. The young player’s team took fourth place in West Group as his father cheered from the sidelines.
— Andrei, what are your overall impressions of the Gazprom Neft Cup?
— I attended many of the games and saw many teams in action. The quality of the games made a very positive impression on me. This is an excellent experience for our lads, and thanks go to the Tournament organizers for giving Belarusian hockey players the chance to participate. It can only do us good. The lads saw how other countries play hockey — Russia, Finland, Ukraine, Latvia... And now we know what to work on in our own game.
— They say the Tournament grooms the stars of the future. Have you noticed any potential Olympics or world champions among the players?
— I don’t want to flatter anyone but yes, I did. The lads played a very smart, adult game of hockey, with good skating, shooting and awareness of the rink, and all at a high professional level.
— What do you make of the result of Dinamo (Minsk)? The fans were a little upset leaving the stands after Dinamo narrowly missed a medal.
— Whatever anyone says, fourth place in such a prestigious tournament is quite an achievement, one I didn’t expect. I am genuinely proud of my son and his club mates. The boys are just fantastic and kept their emotions in check. I think that before the Tournament no one even suspected that Belarus would be battling for a medal. In my opinion it was a job well done, they fought well and showed the Republic has a high standard of ice hockey!
— Was there anything like this in your childhood?
— There were certainly no such global forums like this, so I’m really rather envious of my son. I think he will treasure the memory of the Gazprom Neft Cup for a long time to come. I would really like to see Miroslav continue his ice hockey career. Maybe when he’s 15 he’ll say “Dad, I’m fed up with hockey,” and I hope that won’t happen. But if it does I’ll try to talk him round.
— Can you remember your first tournament when you were a child?
— We went to Kharkov. I remember very well living on a large Dinamo (Kharkov) base and it was really exciting. We got to know a lot of other lads but the level of our game was not as good as that of the young Dinamos today.
— Would you like to see the Tournament come to Minsk again?
— Of course! It is very important to us. If the Organizing Committee decides to develop this segment of the Tournament in Minsk, our hockey players will be delighted. We need more such events, and we need to bring more children into the game.
Miroslav Mikhalev, captain of Dinamo (Minsk)-2003:
— Generally, I think we gave a decent performance and we really enjoyed the Tournament. Before the start we thought we’d be lucky to get eighth place but we ended up in fourth! That was a great leap forward for us.
— What targets did your coach set you?
— To go flat out in every match and give 100 per cent.
— Your namesakes from Dynamo (Moscow) have a rather emotional coach. How would you characterize your own?
— Our coach Sergei Vladimirovich Gromov can be strict but that’s to be expected. He only ever raises his voice in certain circumstances and he doesn’t berate anybody. He just calmly tells you what you need to do in a given situation.
— Did your Dad give you advice?
— Yes, of course. He told me I should take more shots on goal and pass more. Dad always says all five field players should play as one. And that I should keep skating even at the boards — I am not tall so I can’t slow down on the ice. I tried to follow all of his advice.
— You scored a goal in the first match against SKA and ensured a win. Will this memory stay with you?
— I think so. Dad even filmed it but I haven’t seen it yet. But I definitely will watch the replay of the whole game!