SERGEI YAROVOY: “IT’S IMPORTANT TO DEVELOP PLAYERS BUT MAKING THE PLAYOFFS IS OUR FOCUS, TOO”

SERGEI YAROVOY: “IT’S IMPORTANT TO DEVELOP PLAYERS BUT MAKING THE PLAYOFFS IS OUR FOCUS, TOO”
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03.11.2017 в 11:09
SERGEI YAROVOY: “IT’S IMPORTANT TO DEVELOP PLAYERS BUT MAKING THE PLAYOFFS IS OUR FOCUS, TOO”
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SKA-Serebryanye Lvy St. Petersburg’s Sergei Yarovoy is one of the most experienced head-coaches in Junior Hockey League. This is his fourth season at the helm. This year ‘the Predators’ kicked off with an 11-game losing streak but after that they scored points in almost every game and currently sit not too far from the playoff zone.

- Sergei Alexandrovich, let’s address the elephant in the room. What are your team’s goals for the season?
- Our goal this season is to make the playoffs.

- What is more important for your team: making the playoffs or developing players for professional leagues?
- It’s a double goal. It’s important to develop players for professional teams, but we are still expected to make the playoffs. So we have to work towards both.

- If you make the playoffs, how deep do you think you can go?
- It’s going to be a good result for us just to make the playoffs. Making it to any round is a good season. Obviously, we’re going to try to make it as far as possible so our players would improve the most.

- Your team hit the ground running earlier this season. What was the reason?
- We basically put together a brand new team this off season. Probably, over 90% of the team is new. We got a lot of rookies and there aren’t many guys on the team who were here last season. Another reason is that we faced top teams of the league in the first few games – Spartak, Krylia Sovetov, Dynamo. So we weren’t really frustrated with the results – our rookies battled hard and did their best. I think, the only thing that was frustrating about those games is that several young guys got injured.

- How difficult is it to compete in Junior Hockey League with 2000 year-borns?
- To be short – it’s ok. I like to work with players who work hard, do their best at practices and games. It’s a big deal for me if we lost but the players gave a 110% and gave everything they had. With this approach the players are still going to grow. And then they’re going to start winning.

- When you look at your team’s results, it looks like something changed in that game against Atlanty. In the following games your team left the ice without any points just three times…
- I would point out that even when we were losing, we were losing by a goal or maybe two. Sometimes we were losing in overtimes, so we were still getting some points. Sometimes we lacked calamity, sometimes we lacked skill – this guy collapses there, that guy goes the wrong way, that guy doesn’t put his stick where it should be… These are little things but they make a big difference in the end.

- Do you feel like your team has become more experienced in the past few games?
- I think so. Here’s an example – because of an injury I have to replace a 2000 year-born forward in our top line. So some rookie is going to have to step up. The team plays with more authority now. They feel more comfortable in front of the own net. We still have consistency problem. We can one game and the next day the players forget everything we told and explained them. They go back and forth between cold and hot. It’s just what young teams are like.

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- When you look at your statistics, low powerplay efficiency numbers really stand out.
- We don’t have a strong powerplay most of all because we don’t have enough skilled players. It’s important to make a good pass when you have a man advantage, take a one-time shot, make yourself available, drive to the right position, tip the puck in, screen their goalie – we lack these elements right now. Last year we had a few guys with decent JHL experience, but today we don’t. Rookies still just learn the game, try new things and do their best. We trust our young players and put them on the powerplay and penalty kill, but right now we have very few players who are confident enough to hold to the puck in the zone.

- So you’re saying your players tend to play the passing game?
- Passing play means crisp passes and give-and-go’s. We work on it at practices. As soon as they can learn how to make responsible plays, take crucial shots and make great assists – everything is going to change.

- Who is the leader of your team in the dressing-room?
- We don’t have a leader yet. Perhaps, he hasn’t emerged yet. Last year Andrei Altybarmakyan did well in that role.

- Do you think that Altybarmakyan’s genius is about his skill or character?
- I think, it’s the character. Andrei is a kind of player who listens attentively, does what he’s told and has a right approach to hockey. I really wish him to continue to grow. We don’t have a player like him as of now.

- Who would you have been the best SKA-Serebryanye Lvy alumni in recent years?
- It’s difficult to say, we’ve had many good players – Andrei Altybarmakyan, Nikolai Knyzhov, Vasily Glotov, Maxim Maltsev. It’s important to note that SKA-Serebryanye Lvy had had great alumni before I joined the team. Every one of them who continue to move forward and grow have done a great job!

- How do you deal with junior teams that are part of your organization?
- As I said, this off-season SKA-Serebryanye Lvy got several 2000 year born players. I expect these players to be our core for the next couple of years. They should be followed by players who are currently compete in St. Petersburg championship among 2001 year-borns. We are in touch with their coach. During the next JHL break we’re going to scout a few players from that team but that’s something for the future.

- You’ve coached the team since 2013. Have you noticed any differences in the league since then?
- The league had great organization and level of competition even when I first joined the team. The league continues to grow every year and becomes more professional in both – level of organization and competition.

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- Tell us a little about yourself. You were born in Irkutsk Region, and spent your playing career on the other side of the Urals – Angarsk and Khabarovsk. How did you end up in St. Petersburg?
- I left Sibir because of family issues and moved to Podolsk. Then I moved to St. Petersburg.

- What do you prefer to do in your spare time?
- I take long walks around the city. I really like to walk down the riverfront. It’s great to think while walking next to the water.

- Your son Vitaly also plays hockey. Last year he was on your team. Where is he now?
- This season he plays for Mogilyov in Belarus Extraliga. His team battles for a playoff spot. They’ve got a young team. Vitaly likes it, he’s happy and, probably, helps his team (laughs).

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