Loko Yaroslavl head-coach Alexander Ardashev and forward Ruslan Abrosimov comment on Game 4 of the 2021 Kharlamov Cup Finals.
JHC Dynamo Moscow and Loko Yaroslavl have had an amazingly consistent season. They got over 80% of points in the regular season, finished it with one point between them and made their way to the finals. No team was considered a heavy favorite going into the series. Dynamo won three games out of four in the season series and kept a perfect record through the first three rounds of the playoffs. On the other side, many pundits (namely reporter Alexei Shevchenko and Sakhalinskie Akuly head-coach Mikhail Komarov) believed Loko to be the favorites in the finals. They praised Yaroslavl’s offensive over Dynamo’s. On top of that, Loko played with their hearts on their sleeves in the series against Irbis Kazan. In the final game Loko was trailing 5-2 and 6-3 and yet came out victorious and made their way to the finals.
First three games of the final series turned out to be on par. Dynamo won the first bout only in the shootout. Games 2 and 3 ended with the same final score – 3-1 (Dynamo improved their lead to 2-0, and Loko grabbed the victory in the following game). Notably, the winning team scored their third goals towards late in regulation on both occasions. The intrigue hung in the air throughout the action.
Dynamo was up by a goal until midway through the third frame in Game 4 as well. However, then Loko allowed two goals in three minutes. As a result, Dynamo walked away with a 4-1 win. We spoke with Loko Yaroslavl head-coach Alexander Ardashev and forward Ruslan Abrosimov about the key moments of the game.
Loko’s problems began shortly before the midway mark of the third period. Dynamo outshot the opposition not only in the final frame (10-5) but also in the opening (11-5) and second periods (14-9).
“We deserved to lose,” said Alexander Ardashev. “The opposition created a lot of scoring chances because we let them. We allowed uncomfortable goals late in the first and second periods. We went against every hockey law. We did our best to salvage the game but instead of scoring on a power play we allowed a goal.”
“We didn’t capitalize on our scoring chances,” added Ruslan Abrosimov. “Dynamo got off to a better start but we had good transition plays, which we couldn’t convert on. That’s exactly what our opposition was able to pull off. We have to address our conversion rate. After [Alexander] Daryin’s goal we almost got scored on but [Loko netminder] Yegor Gorshkov bailed us out. Daryin scored late in the period. We had to come out for the third frame with more confidence, create scoring chances and convert on them. We don’t even understand ourselves why we struggle to score, while letting in soft goals. These are the mistakes that we make and Dynamo is really good on capitalizing on them. We didn’t adjust our game at all, because it worked for us in previous rounds. We can’t get a lucky break. Looks like we deserve it less right now but we’re going to do everything we possibly can in the next game. Everyone on this team realizes that it’s the finals and that we’re facing a good team. We take preparation for the games very seriously. I don’t even know how to explain the loss. Sometimes the opposition just scores on every chance, while we struggle to get the puck in the net.”
− But Dynamo even outshot Loko.
- No doubt. That stems from the fact they were taking shots from all over the ice. There are players on Dynamo who shoot even from a negative angle. Besides our shots went wide and got blocked by Dynamo players a lot.
Despite Loko representatives being unhappy with their play, Dynamo had just a 2-1 lead until the midway mark of the third period. All Yaroslavl needed was just one goal to get back even. Loko got a power play opportunity eight minutes into the period. The hosts couldn’t capitalize on the chance, while Moscow got a shorthanded marker. Dmitry Rashevsky and Vladislav Mikhailov made Loko netminder Yegor Gorshkov pay for making a mistake.
Yegor Gorshkov is not Loko’s starting netminder. For the majority of regular season games and playoffs it was Yegor Guskov who was getting the nod. He finished the regular season with the best Goals Against Average and Save Percentage. Besides, Guskov set a new Junior Hockey League record getting 13 shutouts in the regular season.
In the deciding game of the semifinal series against Irbis Yegor Guskov got injured. Yegor Gorshkov started every game against Dynamo. He made a decent number of saves, which is why his coach and teammates ask not to blame him for Loko’s loss.
“When a goaltender makes a mistake, everyone notices,” says Ardashev. “Other players’ hiccups are not as obvious. Obviously, Gorshkov made a mistake but let’s remember how many times Yegor kept us in the game. He bailed us out right after Dynamo scored their second goal. Moscow created great scoring chances in front of our net and thanks to Gorshkov they were unable to capitalize on them. When the first goaltender is in goal, perhaps, the team feels more confident. But we are grateful to Yegor Gorshkov – he played great in these four games.”
“He made some really huge saves in the all four games,” adds Abrosimov. “There were several moments last game when Yegor truly bailed out our team. Everybody makes mistakes. I can’t blame the loss on Gorshkov. That would just be silly. We supported him in the dressing-room after the game. We found the right words. I believe, that made it easier for Yegor mentally.”
Right after Loko allowed the fourth goal Yaroslavl forward Pavel Tyutnev took an unnecessary penalty for high-sticking at the face-off dot. A few minutes later Ruslan Abrosimov got a minor penalty for interference.
JHC Dynamo Moscow head-coach Yaroslav Lyuzenkov had some interesting things to say regarding that. ‘That’s just emotions. Both teams want to prove their worth and win. It’s Junior Hockey League, it’s always going to be emotional. That’s normal,” said Lyuzenkov. Loko representatives take it more critically.
“We had a short meeting following the game,” said Loko Yaroslavl head-coach Alexander Ardashev. “Obviously, I express my dissatisfaction. You can’t do things like that. You have to keep playing. If you lose, you have to decent about it. There are different ways of expressing emotions in hockey. You have to avoid things like that. If you want to express your emotions, you have to play by the rules. It’s wrong to high-stick opponents.”
“Perhaps, we just couldn’t control our nerves,” weighs in Loko forward Ruslan Abrosimov. “I didn’t see the moment when Tyutnev got penalized. I was told later that there was an offensive gesture from Dynamo’s bench towards us. And that led to Pasha doing what he did. So you kind of get why he took the penalty. Perhaps, he couldn’t control his nerves. When we allowed the fourth goal, I knew that it would be hard to salvage the game. Until that moment I believed that we could turn it around. We just couldn’t buy a goal in that game! When you can’t score, you get angry at yourself and everyone around. You begin looking for problems within yourself, your team and every player. You try to understand why things aren’t going your way. That’s when you start feeling the void inside.”
“Our mindset is to get a win. We have nothing to lose. Yaroslavl is behind us. Wounded beast is the most dangerous,” continues Loko Yaroslavl forward Ruslan Abrosimov. “We have to give everything we got and block every shot. We’re going to play with our hearts on our sleeves in Yaroslavl. We’re going to play as a team united by a common goal. Games like these show what your team is made off. Hopefully, these won’t be meaningless words in Loko’s case and we’re going to put our team spirit on display, which will help us to turn the series around. Mental factor is really important but we also have to stick to the tactics and coaches’ demands, which we don’t always follow through. Every detail is important in the series.”