Avangard-2006 opened their season with the Yuri Konovalov memorial tournament. In Tyumen, the “hawks” cleaned up against Salavat Yulaev, Traktor, Magnitogorsk Metallurg, and SKA-Strelna, taking first place, one point ahead of the tournament hosts.
Alexander Siryatsky, Avangard-2006 captain:
— “This season is very important for us, because in the spring we’re going to play in the Gazprom Neft Cup, so we’re really glad that we started with a first place in Tyumen! We played against serious opponents, so we liked all of the games, but most of all against the tournament hosts. Although we lost to Tyumen Legion, we were able to gain experience, think about our behaviour out on the ice, and work out our mistakes so as to not repeat them”.
Did you make a lot of mistakes?
— "No, but still, we could have played better. If we had won all of our games, we could have said that we played perfectly, but as it is, we have something to work on! We’re already getting preparing for our next tournament, which will be in St Petersburg, we’re practicing in the gym and on the ice. This season our practices have become much more serious, we’re not just exercising anymore, we’re working on tactics, they’re telling us how to use both power play and short-handed play, and we pay more attention to our passing game. We’re getting more grown-up, we can’t play like kids anymore!
For you as a captain, is it easier or more difficult to lead a more grown-up team?
"I’m already used to this role, although it’s all getting more serious and difficult. Now I’m getting the team ready for our upcoming games, talking a lot with the guys, always saying to them where and how to play better. But in our team everyone can speak his mind.
Ratmir Aubakirov, Avangard-2006 forward:
— “We played two games a day, that was tough, but we worked hard and took first place. We beat our opponents because of our desire to win, and on the whole we played well, we did everything that we worked on in practice: we played a tight game, played short changes, and that’s why we won!”
Have you already played these opponents before?
— “We’ve played all of these teams before, but they have changed a lot since then. The teams that last season were weaker, got new players, strengthened their ranks, and just grew up, improved their skills, now they are better at capitalising on chances. So it’s become a lot more interesting to play now!”
You sometimes work with the 2005 team, does this experience help?
— “Of course, sometimes I use something from those games or practices: puck selection or stick work, for example. But there are things we still need to work on: capitalising on chances, speed, we just need to think a bit faster during the game”.
Nikolai Manzych, Avangard-2006 goalie:
— “We stood up to strong opponents and showed ourselves as a good team, we won four out of five games! We didn’t win only playing against the hosts: we started well, but then we got weaker, we lost it and Legion got the initiative and it’s hard for us to play second fiddle. But anyway that didn’t stop us from getting it together and winning first place!”
What do you think, why were you named Goalie of the Tournament?
— “In Tyumen, almost everything went well for me, even better than I expected! I was sharp, quick — probably that’s why they decided to give it to me. But the most important thing was that our team won, because we looked at our opponents and realised that going on it will be totally not simple. All the teams have seriously improved since last season, so we are already preparing for that our main tournament, the Gazprom Neft Cup, will be tough. We have to play as a team, we have to be one united whole, and then everything will work out!”