Krasnaya Armiya Moscow and Reaktor Nizhnekamsk players and coaches shared their thoughts on the final series. ‘Army men’ won Game 4 2-1 and for the second time in franchise history won Kharlamov Cup.
“I’m very emotional right now just as the boys,” said Krasnaya Armiya head-coach Boris Mironov. “I still can’t believe we went throughout the season playing on this level and won Kharlamov Cup. Perhaps, we will believe tomorrow. Right now it’s all euphoric. We have achieved a great result, which we aimed for all season long. The boys deserved the win. Our job as coaches is to push the boys in the right direction and show them what needs to be done. It’s one team, one group and everyone fought for one another. I thank them very much.
“Yes, we lost just two games this post-season. But if think we had it easy – you’re wrong. That goes even for the final series. Despite the final scores, all of the games were tough. We played four games in six days – it’s a huge pressure for any athlete. The boys pulled through. They came out to win every night. They are really tired. Now we need to rest. It was a difficult season.”
“I thanked the boys for the season and for their dedication,” said Reaktor head-coach Alexander Sokolov. “We have a saying in our team – we need guys who will play for their name on the back and the logo in front. That’s just what they did. They battled for Reaktor and the city. They made some mistakes but all in all they had a solid playoff run. Why didn’t I take off the medal? I’m not trying to judge anybody. We deserved what we deserved. And we deserved silver, so I don’t see a reason to take off the medal. If you deserved gold – put on the gold medal. If you didn’t deserve it – what’s the point of taking it off? Obviously, we wanted more but I don’t think that we should be ashamed of ending up with silver.
“What did we lack in the last game? What we lacked the most was that when we were taking shots – they went into goal-posts. And when the opponents were taking similar shots – we allowed the last goal like that. That’s what we lacked. In the first games of the final series it felt like someone had shut off Reaktor somehow. We didn’t look like ourselves. Nevertheless, we could have won Game 1, but when it was 3-3 we allowed a very unnecessary goal. We made many unnecessary mistakes. Our goaltenders, who had done well in the playoffs, didn’t do their best in the finals. We would like to apologize for the scores in the series. Today we missed our top players born in 1996 but the boys still put up a good fight. We faced a mighty team and we are proud to have participated in the finals. Unlike them, we have room to grow. We are still just one step away from gold.”
“Hoisting Kharlamov Cup is a great joy. Especially since it’s my last year in the JHL and I captained the team,” said Krasnaya Armiya captain Ivan Silayev. “This is something you won’t ever forget. It’s like a déjà vu. What I couldn’t achieve three years ago, finally came to be. Every game was tough in its way, including tonight. That’s the way it was throughout the playoffs. Don’t look at the whopping total scores. It doesn’t tell you anything.
“We just capitalized on our chances. [Alexander] Samoilov made a lot of huge saves and that led us to this result. It was tough ever since the round of 16. This was my last season in the JHL. The league has given me a lot. It was fun to play and develop here.”
“I’m very happy for us. We achieved something we couldn’t three years ago,” said Krasnaya Armiya forward and Kharlamov Cup MVP Andrei Kuzmenko. “Yes, we won all four games of the final series. But we played 12 playoff games and it was a tough road. Every game was tough and we had to battle every night. Tonight was the most difficult game of the final series. To be honest with you, I got tired ten minutes in. They should have carried me out on a stretcher (laughing). Seriously, though, we played three lines throughout the playoffs – that was our coaching staff’s decision. We got tired towards the end. It’s good it all ended well for us.”
“What’s my take on the season? Our team made Kharlamov Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. This can’t be not a success,” said Reaktor captain Rafael Bikmullin. “We had a really good team here – 30 fighters. I guess, you can say we had a successful year. We got really close to winning it all. Perhaps, sometimes our opponents were getting lucky. But – you know what they say – the strongest team is the luckiest. I want to thank our coaches and team management for putting this team together. Our goal was to win the cup but we fell just short. But everybody on the team is thankful to our coaches and team management. Overall, we’re happy. We can’t get sad over this. We want to thank our opponents. They showed class and character. Krasnaya Armiya was stronger. Perhaps, they were better prepared physically. I want to thank everyone who cheered for us and supported us. We managed to make Tatarstan history. All of Tatarstan cheered for us. And I want to thank them for that.
“I tried to motivate the boy the best I could today. We came out and blocked shots, battled the best we could. It just didn’t go our way. The second goal was the turning point. I’m going to be honest with you – I didn’t have a good season after last year. I was always going back and forth between VHL and JHL. I played well in the VHL this year and scored a few points. I played with grown men, who showed me what professional hockey is all about. After all, junior hockey is different from professional hockey.”
“Actually, it only looks like we had it easy. We won 12 games this post-season, three of which were shutout wins,” said Krasnaya Armiya forward Semyon Koshelev. “But when you take a closer look, and you see our first series against Dinamo St. Petersburg – it was a tough series and we didn’t do a lot of things right. I wasn’t making the team at the time. It’s good, though, that the coaches let me play. It was tough going through all that.
“We all knew what we were going for. The coaches were making changes from series to series. We prepared differently for every game. We had a different approach to every opponent. Despite all the blowout wins, it doesn’t reflect the reality. We just capitalized on our chances. I want to go on vacation with my mom. All of my future thoughts are with CSKA.”