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Roman Rotenberg speaks after playing Neftekhimik in Nizhnekamsk

Roman RotenbergNeftekhimikInterviewNeftekhimik - SKA - 191122
HC SKA press-service

HC SKA head coach Roman Rotenberg:

- Our guys fought as hard as they could. Neftekhimik are a strong opponent, they play quick ice hockey. Their task was to punish us for our mistakes. We're going through a tough period at the moment, but it will make us stronger. Nikolai Polyakov and Yegor Gurzanov tried their best today, we had called them up from SKA-Neva in the VHL. I hope that everyone enjoyed the game, there was a wonderful atmosphere inside the arena. Hopefully, our leaders will return for our upcoming matches. We want to win our next game.

- Neftekhimik's goal was against the run of play.

- Ice hockey is a game of mistakes. The size of the ice is different here, and we had only trained here in the morning. I don't have any issues with our commitment and character, we tried hard and did everything we could. We're lacking the required freshness to take advantage of our opportunities. Yes, it's tough without some of our leading players, but we have to beat our opponents with any players. We've already proved that we are capable of this. Our job is to be in peak form for the Gagarin Cup playoffs.

- Were you lacking emotions after the previous difficult game against Ak Bars in Kazan?

Roman Rotenberg speaks after playing Neftekhimik in Nizhnekamsk

- It was a challenging exam for us in Kazan, we lost a lot of strength and emotion. All teams go through such periods. We started well today and scored a good goal, but we should have continued in the same vein. Taking into account the quality of the ice and the tactics used by the opponents, we needed to get the puck to the crease and score from there. Everyone is in the same boat. Of course, the result is always the most important thing, but we can see aspects of our game which are improving. We now have to recover before our upcoming match on Tuesday.

- Why have SKA signed Nikita Popugayev? What are his strengths?

- At the moment, half of our line-up is out. We're searching for options to strengthen our squad. Even though fatigue is a factor, Nikita played well today, he's a right-handed, powerful, energetic and aggressive player. Life has taught him a lesson. He almost gave the sport up, but life has given him another chance to prove his worth in ice hockey. We respect guys who are prepared to give everything in order to win and who love ice hockey.

- Nikita Gusev is improving. Does he have an individual training plan?

- Every player has an individual plan. Even when he didn't have a contract with SKA, we were in contact with him. We worked in accordance with one system. Right now, some of our players are either ill or injured.

- Whenever SKA play on the road, the stadiums are always packed.

- The hosts always want to see their team beat the KHL's leading club! It's one thing to reach first place, but it's another to stay there. We need to play great ice hockey. We appreciate the fact that fans are coming to see us play, there was a fantastic atmosphere at the arena today. This means that we are moving in the right direction.

- How would you summarise Vladislav Podyapolsky's debut?

- Vladislav played excellently, he made a number of tough saves. He is not to blame for the goals which we conceded. Instead, we need to look at which players allowed the opponents to shoot.

- Why are SKA wasting so many scoring opportunities at the moment?

- We have to block the goalkeeper's view more often. Andrei Tikhomirov had the match of his life for Nizhnekamsk today, he did a good job. We must start getting the puck to the crease more often, that's where the goals are. When our leading players are out, the others must replace them successfully and use their chance. Even if we play with only SKA-Neva players, we still have to win! We will improve our performance level on Tuesday.

- The next game against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday is vital for SKA.

- We understand the importance of the match. We'll try to make our fans happy with watertight defensive play and great goals, we will play at our best. We will now have a short rest before we subsequently begin analysing CSKA.

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