“Imposing our brand of hockey and our game is the foundation of our success”. Irbis captain comments on the semifinal series against Loko

Playoffs
Interview
06.04.2021 в 18:00
“Imposing our brand of hockey and our game is the foundation of our success”. Irbis captain comments on the semifinal series against Loko
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‘Railway men’ lead the series 2-0 after two games in Yaroslavl between Irbis Kazan and Loko. Kazan captain Kirill Mukhin opened up about his team’s struggles in the games and shared his expectations on home bouts against Yaroslavl.

- You lost both games on the road to start the series. What went wrong for your team in Yaroslavl?
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I believe, it was mostly certain defensive moments. We were losing track of our opponents, we let them score on rebounds, and we allowed unnecessary goals. When you allow a goal first, it’s difficult to come back at this stage of the season.

- Loko established quick leads in both games and put you in a difficult position. Why did that happen?
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We dozed off at certain points of the games and the opposition made us pay for it, capitalizing on their chances.

- Loko won first periods in the first two games by a combined score of 5-0. How would you explain such bad starts for your team?
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Actually, in the early moments of the games, precisely the first five minutes, the momentum was on our side. Later on we abandoned our brand of hockey, which was working for us, and conceded goals.

- What did your coaching staff point out to you before the series commenced?
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We didn’t change a thing, I assure you. The coaches told us to play our brand of hockey, play off of our own style and force the opposition adjust to us. We were told to stay firm and play our game.

- Did the fact that Irbis never played Western Conference teams in general and Loko in particular this year affect the series?
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I don’t think so. Everyone on our team expected to face a serious opponent. There are no other teams left at this point. We didn’t change anything in our approach. We relied fully on our own game.

- Were you able to fix any mistakes you made in Game 1 in Game 2?
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I think we rather did than we didn’t. Game 2 went exactly the way Game 1 did – we conceded unnecessary goals in the opening period and they essentially brought us down. Other than that we played just as well as Loko. I eagerly await the games in Kazan.

- Out of the three goals you scored, special teams registered two. What was different when you were on a power play?
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I don’t think anything was different. We just started to play better on a power play. Every goal in the playoffs is worth its weight in gold. We were losing and we needed to do everything that was possible to turn things around. Power play is a good opportunity to do that.

- How difficult is it to face the top Junior Hockey League goaltender Yegor Guskov? How much of a personal factor does he play in the series?
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We haven’t thought of that. He’s just another goaltender for us. It doesn’t change anything.

- How would you weigh in on Loko’s strength compared to Eastern Conference teams?
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I don’t want to grade them. Loko is a serious opponent to face in playoff semifinal. Any team would be difficult to play against at this stage. It’s a good and skilled team. That’s all I can say on the matter.

- The series moves to Kazan. What is Irbis’ plan to turn it around?
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Obviously, everyone wants to win Game 3 so that the series would continue. We are determined to continue to impose our brand of hockey and our game – that is the foundation of our success. Everyone understands that there is no room for mistake anymore. Hopefully, we’re going to be able to pull it off.

- How would the support of your fans affect the game?
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It’s going to affect it in a positive way. It’s always great to play on home ice and in front of our fans. It always boosts our motivation to play even harder.

- Are you going to have any team-building event or a team meeting prior to the game?
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We have already had a team meeting where we discussed everything. We have created an atmosphere on this team where nobody wants to give up. We are determined to battle for a place in Kharlamov Cup Playoffs.

- Do you follow Ak Bars Kazan? Do you watch the games either collectively or separately?
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Mostly separately. Obviously, we support our main team. We root for the guys and watch their games.

- Tesanov recently said ‘Kazan shuga-puga’. What does it mean?
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We saw that only when we landed home. No one on our team knows what he meant by that or where he got it from. We’re going to ask him that when he gets to Kazan (smiles).

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