The coaches made a gift to the young Omsk hawks after their 4:0 victory over the Magnitogorsk Metallurg in the East Group final: the boys were allowed home for one night. Before then the team had been kept to a strict schedule at the club’s training base — everything for victory. Half of the task has been achieved, so the coaches felt that the players deserved a break.
“They weren’t easy games,” says the Avangard-2004 head coach, Alexander Peretyatko. “Big scores don’t mean anything. You may have noticed that in many games we only scored in the last two or three minutes. Now we are preparing for the main game of the tournament, studying our opponent. We met Dynamo about a year ago. Since then, they have got another coach and many new players. We’ll play the hockey we have been practising, be energetic, attack and try to score.”
— Thousands of fans come to watch the “hawks”. Are the boys pleased with the atmosphere on the stands? What do they say?
“Yes, they enjoy it. Smiles on their faces. Naturally, they love to play with that level of support!”
The Omsk players did not get much rest. Already today they are back at the Omsk Arena for practice. A lot of tactics have to be worked out ahead of the Super Final. The Avangard goalkeeper Gleb Saranchuk has played confidently so far — only three shots got past him in the East Group games.
— Who taught you to play so well?
“Goalie coaches. Alexander Frolovich Dmitriyev, Sergei Borisovich Khramtsov, Lev Igorevich Kuzemchenko. Our defence also helps. We have an excellent defence, no doubt about it. They’re great guys. We’re always ready for our games, the defence is good. But I think the main thing is our morale.”
— What was the toughest game so far?
“The one with Ak Bars. And the one with Metallurg (Magnitogorsk). That was tough too. I’d say it’s hard playing in front of packed stands, though it’s fun too.”
The Avangard forward Gleb Trikozov was the points leader in East Group, with 12 scores. Leading a team is a big responsibility.
— You have a high score. Is it your own achievement or do your partners help?
“It varies. Sometimes myself, sometimes partners help. They sometimes make quick feeds that take me by surprise.”
— You scored a beautiful goal in the last game with Magnitogorsk — got round the opponent at high speed and sent a backhand shot under the crossbar. Did you see someone do it?
“To be honest — it just happened like that. I saw where the defender and goalkeeper were, made a shot and got lucky.”
— What can you say about the upcoming game with Dynamo?
“We have played them before — that game was a draw. They are a very experienced team. They have players who run away and score. We must try to pin them down and play tightly.”
The Omsk team spent a full hour on the ice at the Omsk Arena working on technique and tactics. Everything matters ahead of the Super Final and everyone is working at their limit.
“It’s great that Gazprom Neft has organized a major tournament like this,” says the Avangard forward Vladimir Bashkatov. “It’s brilliant that so many people come to see us, that so many teams come to play — more and more every year.”
— When you’re on the ice, do you hear the fans in the stands — your parents — shouting you on?
“I don’t hear my parents, it’s too noisy. When you’re sitting on the bench, waiting to go on, you hear everything. But when you play, it’s all emotions, everything disappears, you don’t hear anything except the other players.”
— You play well. How are your studies at school?
“Top marks. In all subjects.”
— What can you say about Dynamo?
“A strong and unpredictable team. Their players always deploy on the far blue line, so that their feeds work better.”
— Fans and commentators say that Avangard’s play is very well organized.
“I agree with that. We strictly follow the coach’s instructions.”
The boys returned to the club base after the practice. Tomorrow is a big day and a big game — the biggest of their lives so far.