The main children’s tournament of the year Gazprom Neft Cup is starting in less than a month. The team is carefully selecting the boys who will have to fight on the ice for a victory in the competitions. Alexander Peretyatko, Avangard 2004 head coach, told us how the “hawks” are preparing for the tournament and who helps them.
— Preparation for the Gazprom Neft Cup is going full speed; we have both on-ice and off-ice practice. There is a certain plan we are adhering to. It is less than a month left, and we are practicing hard now, but when the tournament becomes closer, we will reduce the intensity. I believe we will be prepared well.
— Do you keep an eye on your tournament opponents? What do you already know about them?
— We have learned the drawing results in our group. We have met Sibir just recently — the Novosibirsk team has visited us in Omsk to play pickup games. Some work is being done on Ak Bars: we have information on the team list, know game results for this season and the previous one. Of course, we follow carefully our opponents.
— What tournaments have you had this season to prepare for the Gazprom Neft Cup?
— We have had four tournaments; the Gazprom Neft Cup will be the fifth one. First, we had a pre-season tournament in Novokuznetsk and we managed to win it. Then in Kurganovo, Yekaterinburg. This time we played not bad, even if the results were not so good, but I liked the children’s approach and the content of the game. Strong teams took part in the tournament: Silver Lions (St Petersburg), Vityaz, Metallurg — almost all of these teams, by the way, will fight for the Gazprom Neft Cup this year.
Afterwards, a Sochi tournament took place were we also had interesting games with Salavat Yulaev and Yuzhny Ural-Orsk. We had a chance to size up the Ufa team, as we will be playing in the East Group of the Cup together. Eventually, at a Barnaul tournament dedicated to the memory of Alexey Cherepanov, we met with Altai, older players born in 2003. The kids proved themselves confident, looked good. Now, our elder playmates, Avangard 2003 hockey athletes, help us actively — we play scrimmage with them to pull ourselves together and try to polish our game so that to be fully prepared for the tournament.
— How is shared the experience from players of older generations and from the coaching staff?
— The kids ask the guys who has already participated in the Cup about some moments. Especially, what they felt. I already participated as a coach in the tournament, was an assistant of Viktor Zykov in Avangard-1997, know well Mikhail Zlobin, we worked together at the previous Cup. I have certain experience and can imagine what to expect, however, I talk to my colleagues, of course, to find out more details and nuances.
Picture 3. Last instructions before stepping onto the ice. Omsk, 2015.
— Do you set your team a goal to win in the tournament by all means, or consider the Gazprom Neft Cup as a stepping stone to adult hockey?
— The Gazprom Neft Cup is indeed a stepping stone to the adult hockey; however the kids have been waiting long specifically for this tournament, dreamed about it already for several years and, of course, follow it. The tournament is one-of-a-kind; you can only win it once during your entire sports career. To go out on the ice without being determined to win is not right; at the Avangard hockey club, we have only one goal to be winners!