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SKA – Severstal. Press-conference

Roman RotenbergInterviewPress-conferenceSeverstalNikita KamalovAlexei OzhgikhinSKA - Severstal - 180922
HC SKA press-service

HC SKA head coach Roman Rotenberg:

- This was a very important game for us in front of our fans, we wanted to make the whole of Saint Petersburg happy! We knew that Severstal had inserted fresh players into their line-up, they were counting on us running out of gas. However, we found our reserves and gave everything for this win. The guys did a great job, following the plan and showing character. We will now have a deserved opportunity to recover, because we have played every two days in extremely difficult matches. I would like to thank the fans for helping us to win with their support.

- How can you explain the phenomenon that is Marat Khairullin?

- We have been tracking Marat for a long time, he’s a very strong player who takes a leading role. He has a strong character, especially taking into account that he’s been through a lot. He has reached this level by himself. There is no phenomenon involved, it’s all down to pure hard work. Just like the rest of the guys, he coped with our tough pre-season training camps. In contrast to previous seasons, he now has the chance to play with excellent teammates. He is playing like a true leader and scoring vital goals.

SKA – Severstal. Press-conference

- Roman Rukavishnikov and Emil Galimov aren’t on the injured list, but they’re not playing. Why is this? And when will Alexander Samonov return?

- It’s been a really tough start to the campaign for us with lots of injuries, but they are a part of the sport. Our players are giving their all on the ice. We won’t reveal the details, but we will soon see Rukavishnikov and Galimov, just like the rest of the guys. In this game, products of our youth system Alexei Ozhgikhin and Dmitry Nikolaev fought as hard as they could for their club. All of our teams in the KHL, VHL and MHL play in accordance with the same energy-sapping, aggressive style.

- In Germany, teams have now started swapping the goalkeeper in overtime for the extra skater, a scheme created by your assistant coach Evgeny Koreshkov. Why didn’t you pull the goaltender in overtime today?

- There is a question concerning who founded this scheme. If they would have played 3-on-3 in the days of legendary coaches Anatoly Tarasov and Viktor Tikhonov, then they probably would have used this idea in the training process. Yes, today we didn’t pull the goalkeeper in overtime, but maybe we will in the future. We always work in accordance with the situation on the ice.

- SKA have now won eight on the bounce. In 2017, the team managed to register 20 consecutive victories together. Are you keeping this in mind?

- I remember that winning streak. I’ve been working for SKA across the past 10 years now, I can remember every season well and practically every shift! There is no future without the past, but we are focusing on every individual match instead of this series. I used to engage in judo in previous years, and there every blow is a new game. The most important thing for us now is the next match.

- Have your players now got used to playing in front of a sold-out Ice Palace?

- Here I remember what Ezio Gamba – the head coach of the Russian judo national team – said to me when he was preparing his team for the 2012 Olympic Games in Great Britain. Three gold medals were won there. For him, it was very important to initially engage in a tough sparring in order to subsequently have an advantage at competitions. We used the Nikolai Puchkov Tournament in August to get our players used to playing inside a packed arena here in Saint Petersburg. When the stands are full, you have to use it as extra support. For example, Khairullin wasn’t used to playing inside such a stadium, but today he scored decisive goals for us in the penalty shootout. This support is helping us to win games.

- Last week, you also defeated Severstal Cherepovets after initially conceding the first goal. How have Severstal improved since that particular match?

- They had a fresh team out today. Before this game, I had heard that they had decided to scratch eight players after a serious conversation. Severstal had young, courageous guys on the ice, forcing us to find our reserves and show our character. The start wasn’t great for us, but our players managed to turn the game around. They responded to our discussion which occurred during the first break. This is a major victory for us, we competed against an organised opponent. We will improve. I remember when Vladislav Tretiak told me that it’s better to score three quick goals and then see the game out.

- There are rumours that Russia will participate at the World Cup without the national anthem and flag. Could you please comment on this?

- I haven’t seen any official information. We are talking with Bill Daly and the NHL, and there hasn’t been an official announcement yet. If they allow us to play, we will be ready. All of our guys are prepared to play at international level. The more tense games we have like today’s match, the better it will be for us. We are prepared to accept a challenge from any team. We want to defeat the Canadian national team with the players we have in Russia right now.

HC Severstal Cherepovets head coach Andrei Razin:

- We knew that SKA were coming off the back of a tough road trip in Cherepovets, Yaroslavl and Moscow. It’s difficult to play four games in six days. As a consequence, we decided to put fresh players on the ice and those who can defend well. We played with good discipline, the fact that we only took one penalty in Saint Petersburg is a minor miracle. Overall, SKA deserved to win, while we deservedly earned one point. Everyone is happy.

- Are you disappointed to lose to one of the KHL’s bronze medalists? Previously, you had beaten the gold, silver and other bronze medalist of the league.

- Of course we’re disappointed about that.

- How does Maxim Kazakov feel now? Did he receive stitches?

- He returned to the game in a special mask. Maxim was presented with three good chances after that, but the mask affected him.

- Are you not worried about the possibility of Severstal being fined for not reaching the bottom of the salary cap?

- I have already said that this is not fair. In this game, we proved that we’re a strong team even without our highest earners. The KHL needs to look at this regulation.

- Why did you swap the goalkeeper in the first period?

- The amber lamp lit up. We thought that it was for an advertising break, so our goaltender skated to the bench. However, the lamp was actually flashing because a player was injured. The referees stated to us that we had to change our goalkeeper because he had skated to the bench when not permitted to do so. Rules are rules.

- Where did the puck hit Vladislav Podyapolsky for the conceded goal?

- It struck him at the back of his mask. Goals like that shouldn’t count! I’m joking, of course.

- Severstal had quite a few powerplay opportunities. Why couldn’t you capitalise?

- To be honest, we hadn’t expected to earn several powerplays. We thought that we would have to defend a lot. Almost our whole first powerplay unit didn’t play today, because we will now play five games across the next week. It doesn’t matter if you beat SKA, CSKA or another team, you always only receive two points for a win. It’s good that at least we didn’t concede when on the powerplay.

- What needs to be done for Severstal to beat the KHL leaders?

- We simply need to score one more goal than them. In overtime, we needed to take advantage of the great scoring chance which came our way. Our ruthlessness in front of goal must improve.

- You had previously noted your team’s discipline against Traktor Chelyabinsk. Was today’s performance in this regard even better?

- I remember that we were very disciplined in the third period in Chelyabinsk. There were moments when SKA applied pressure on us in this game, but they have a very good team full of experienced and high-quality players. In contrast to Traktor, they didn’t have problems with their squad. Our excellent discipline in this match means more to us.

HC SKA defenseman Nikita Kamalov:

- This was a tough game for us, we played against an organised, young and determined team. We did concede the first goal, but then we turned the match around and won in the penalty shootout. I would like to congratulate everyone with the victory, the main thing is that we achieved a positive result.

- How did you hit the target for your equalising goal?

- If I’m honest, I simply closed my eyes and shot the puck. Podyapolsky knows me well and how I shoot, but clearly he didn’t expect that shot from me! It’s one of the most unique goals of my career so far. The most important thing is that we emerged victorious and gained the two points.

- You outshot Severstal 32-21. Why couldn’t you score more goals?

- They have a strong goalkeeper and defensive line. Severstal fought hard, they didn’t allow us to reach the rebounds. In a situation like the one we found ourselves in today, the main thing is to continue shooting and the goals will eventually come.

- In comparison to the previous match against Severstal, there were a lot more penalties from SKA today.

- Severstal had young guys on the ice, they forced us to take those penalties. Never mind, though, our penalty kill is working really well at the moment.

- You have played in four matches across just six days.

- That’s a great thing! It’s better than training.

HC SKA forward Alexei Ozhgikhin:

- Severstal had a young, determined side on the ice, all of their players tried to prove their worth. Nevertheless, we also showed our best qualities and displayed our character to win.

- This was your KHL debut. What did you make of your performance in the line with Vladislav Tsitsyura and Maxim Groshev?

- I only have positive emotions! It means a lot to play in front of a full arena, moments like these need to be appreciated. I know Vladislav and Maxim well, we’ve played in the VHL and MHL today. It was easy to play in a line with them. As a whole, I am satisfied with my debut.

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