CSKA Moscow is one of the most successful clubs in the history of our Tournament. CSKA has won the Gazprom Neft Cup on two occasions and is a strong favourite year on year. We talked to managers, coaches and players of the Moscow team, hoping to find out the secret of their success.
Alexei Deev, deputy sporting director of the CSKA Sports School (CSKA Children’s and Youth Sports School of Olympic Reserve)
— CSKA Moscow has won the Gazprom Neft Cup twice. Are you making a third trophy the chief task for your juniors in 2015?
— For us, there is always only one place and that is first place. We do our best to instil the winning spirit in our boys at the CSKA sports school, so a repeat of our success in the Gazprom Neft Cup is certainly one of the main challenges for the coming season.
— How are the hockey careers of the young players who took part in previous Tournaments shaping up? Are they making good progress?
— The Tournament was a really rewarding experience for all of the players born in 2002 and 2003 who took part in it. It made them understand what you have to go through in order to win. They also got an insight into the high levels of organisation, which the KHL is achieving today. I think it has given them an extra boost to perform even better in the future.
Valery Cherny, coach of the CSKA sports school team for children born in 2003
— Valery, what have the winners of the Gazprom Neft Cup 2014 gone on to achieve since the Tournament? What other tournaments have they taken part in?
— They took a break from May to August. The boys did some good pre-season training, and then started games in the Moscow Open Championship in September. They have won ten out of eleven matches, and now stand second in the table. They also played and won a game in the Moscow Cup. The team has a strong backbone and there haven’t been any major changes in the line-up compared with last season and the Gazprom Neft Cup Tournament.
— What experience and skills did your players acquire from the Gazprom Neft Cup?
— The main thing for them was the opportunity to play against the strongest teams in their age group, and not just from Russia but also from other countries with teams in the KHL. This will give them confidence in their own abilities. Also, it’s my personal opinion that competitions such as the Gazprom Neft Cup do a lot to support the development of ice hockey in Russia.
Vladimir Kramskoy, coach of the CSKA sports school team for children born in 2004
— How far advanced is your team selection? When and how will you make the final selection of the boys who will play in the Gazprom Neft Cup 2015?
— Sport will be the only criterion. We already have a good idea of who will be in the main line-up and who will be first reserves. There are clear leaders in the team, and there are other lads, who are slightly behind, but I can see that they have potential and it will come out in due course.
— Will the team be expected to win the Cup, keeping up the CSKA tradition of the last two years?
— It’s a fact that we have a lot to live up to after the last couple of years. Of course, the leadership of our sports school is set on victory in the Gazprom Neft Cup. That’s our rule — you aim to win every competition you take part in. We’re taking part in a number of tournaments now, so that our players can get used to playing “grown-up” hockey. We use these competitions to work out tactical combinations with four, three and even two lines, so we can cope with any eventualities, including anything we have to deal with in the Gazprom Neft Cup.
Igor Tyutyunnikov, striker with the CSKA sports school team for children born in 2003 and Gazprom Neft Cup 2014 best player
— Six months have passed since the Gazprom Neft Cup Tournament. What are your memories of it?
— It’s a happy memory — a tournament like that only happens once in a lifetime. It was a great experience for me, because we took on the best teams. And the Super Final in Omsk was the first time I had played in front of that many people. I will never forget the Gazprom Neft Cup!
Aidar Suniev, striker with the CSKA sports school team for children born in 2004
— What do you know about the Gazprom Neft Cup Tournament?
— I know that very strong teams play in it and that CSKA hockey players have won it twice running!
— Why do you want to take part in it?
— Firstly, because it will give me a chance to play against the best players of my age. Secondly, I want to keep up the tradition of my elder clubmates, born in 2002 and 2003, by winning another trophy for CSKA, and, thirdly, the tournament will show how strong we are as a team.