“We are proud of our team”. Kazan managements weighs in on Irbis’ season

News
20.04.2021 в 10:30
“We are proud of our team”. Kazan managements weighs in on Irbis’ season
Share

Ak Bars general manager Rafik Yakubov and Irbis head-coach Artyom Anisimov held a press-conference in Kazan concerning the end of the season.

Rafik Yakubov concluded Irbis’ season results, spoke about the future of team leaders and semifinal series against Loko Yaroslavl.

− What were the goals you set for Irbis prior to the season? Has the team been able to achieve them?
-
You know, Irbis’ priority was developing young players for [VHL’s] Bars and [KHL’s] Ak Bars. That was the main priority. I believe, winning the cup is a goal for every team in this league. There’s nothing new about it. We pride ourselves on being a top club so that’s a goal we have implemented throughout our vertical. But the main priority is developing a young generation of players. Developing players for our KHL team and for Bars. As for the fact that the boys made it [Kharlamov Cup] semifinals and gave a good run to such an experienced team as Loko [Yaroslavl], I’m really grateful to our players and coaching staff for achieving that goal. We have a lot of promising and young players coming up, who have graduated from Irbis. We are happy with the outcome. It’s a good result.

- You spoke a lot about about Zaripov Jr. this year. He has a dream of playing alongside his father. Do you believe this dream can be fulfilled next season?
-
Dreams always come true. I can’t definitely say yes or no. We don’t know if Zaripov Sr. and Zaripov Jr. will renew their contracts. Everything is possible and I wouldn’t rule anything out. It’s a good idea and that’s something Danis, who is our legend and our star, wants himself. We are definitely for it but I can’t say right what the future hold for us.

- What kind of future does Kirill Mukhin have in men’s hockey?
-
Kirill plays with his heart on his sleeve. He’s a true leader of our team. He showed his leadership skills back in the past season already. But, you know, when a player has certain physical qualities – and he’s a tall and big guy – obviously, men’s teams are going to address that. I’m certain he’s going to be a quality VHL player. It’s up to Bars coaching staff to find a role for him but we’re definitely not going to leave this guy behind. We’re going to help him with extending his contract or getting him a new one within our club system.

- Many pundits noted that Irbis system is a lot like that of Ak Bars. Could you define the key factors in which Irbis is comparable to Ak Bars?
-
We eliminated Avto [Yeklaterinburg] from the playoffs – and that’s a very good team. We beat Belye Medvedi [Chelyabinsk], when they got reinforcements from [KHL’s] Traktor and [VHL’s] Chelmet. You could clearly see the brand of hockey we played. We are always in touch with coaching staffs of all three of our teams and we always talk the brand of hockey we want to see. So Bars and Irbis players would be ready for demands, spirit and brand of hockey of our KHL team. We’re always in touch. It’s something we talk about a lot. We even had meetings where KHL team coaches explained their vision of how Bars and Irbis should play. We’re keep it tight between us.

- Did you see the last game in the series against Loko? Who did you like the best?
-
It wasn’t just me who watched it. The entire KHL team coaching staff watched it – we were on the road when the game took place. Obviously, we worried about the junior team. When they came back from being down 2-0 in the game, we were happy and proud of our team. And we’re still proud of it. The boys just lacked playoff experience. They have never been in grind like that. They had an experienced team, while we had put young guys. They played well and did a great job. They kept it tight and sometimes outplayed the opposition. Our tactics and game system was more exciting than Loko’s. The fact that Loko dressed more experienced and skilled players was a factor. Just look at who scored the goals.

− What is more important in Junior Hockey League – end result or gaining experience and developing young players?
-
One does not cancel out the other. Every French soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his knapsack, right? Obviously, every hockey player wants to be the best. It’s something we aim for. There are no other goals in our dressing-room and club. We want to be the best at everything. What path should we take towards it – does it matter? It just so happened that several of our players were called up to Team Russia, while the opposition got three players from their KHL team. We’re not saying that it’s either good or bad. We played decent hockey. We just couldn’t get to the next round. Although, we did have a chance to win Game 4.

Irbis head-coach Artyom Anisimov weighed in on how the 2020-21 season went for his team and spoke about building unique system within the club.

− What were the goals you set for Irbis prior to the season? Has the team been able to achieve them?
− The team aim to develop the boys. Some of them got VHL experience, while some were even called up to KHL. We’re pretty much achieved our goal. We did our best to come out and play to win every game, which led us to a decent result.

− Have you given any advice to Zaripov Jr. regarding preparation for next season? Perhaps, there was something you asked him to focus on?
-
A lot is going to depend entirely on him – things like working hard and practicing. If he can minimize mistakes he has made, anything is possible.

- Many pundits noted that Irbis system is a lot like that of Ak Bars. Could you define the key factors in which Irbis is comparable to Ak Bars?
− We work in complete unison with our KHL team. We build our play around theirs. We did everything the way Ak Bars did.

− What exactly did coaches of other teams within club system tell you?
-
We had to be on the same page – game components, who is supposed to do certain things on the ice, that kind of thing. We discussed it at length and that’s how we were able to develop the system. For example, the boys would get called up and come to Bars or Ak Bars practice and they already knew what they were supposed to do in certain situations. That made it either for Bars and Ak Bars coaches. All they had to do was fix little details here and there. That’s how we worked all season long.

- Have you figured out the reasons behind losing the series to Loko? Do you have an understanding what you had to do differently?
-
I have figured out one thing. We lacked experience in playoff games – games at that level. It’s a different kind of responsibility and the price of mistakes is a lot higher. Perhaps, that’s all I have figured out. As for doing something differently… No, I don’t thing I would change a thing. I would just minimize mistakes we made when the score was 5-2 and 6-3. I would have liked to see us play more responsibly and focused.

- What’s your take on Kharlamov Cup Finals?
-
Very exciting and good games. It’s obvious that the boys did their best to stick to the game plan and make a name for themselves. The games are very close to a high level. These are two teams of the highest level – that’s true for the players and the level of their play.

Share