About the League
Team Russia pulled off a comeback in the opening game at the U18 World Championship against Team USA after trailing 5-1. We spoke to the key players of the game – SKA-1946 St. Petersburg forward Matvei Michkov, captain Nikita Chibrikov - and head-coach Albert Leschyov.
“We kept believing until the end we could come back”
Nikita Chibrikov, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg and U18 Team Russia captain.
“We scored a good goal in overtime,” explains Chibrikov. “We managed to turn the game around. I see some open ice, found a hole to shoot at and sniped it. I didn’t expect anything to come out of it, I just played as I should in the situation. I apologized to the team for the mistake I made which led to Team USA scoring a goal. Hockey is an unpredictable game. We kept believing until the end we could come back and win, which is exactly what we did. We had been told prior to the game that players need to put a mask while in the penalty box and that every player would be provided with a new one. Everyone follows the rules and keeps social distance.”
Matvei Michkov, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg and U18 Team Russia forward.
“When we were down 5-1, our coaching staff saw everything what was going on. They shuffled the lines at the right time. It brought positive emotions and helped us wake up. Everyone believed we could win. It’s great it turned out the way it did and we went on to win the game. It was very important for us.”
“Today we played as one”
Albert Leschyov, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg and U18 Team Russia head-coach.
“I have mixed emotions from this game,” said Leschyov. “We didn’t look good in the first period but in the following 40 minutes of play we were able to impose our brand of hockey and made the opposition play by our rules. Kirill Gerasimyuk, who started the game in goal, was nervous. It just so happened that we had to pull him in the second period and that proved to be the key moment of the game. As for Nikita Chibrikov’s play, I don’t want to single anybody out. Today we all played as one – as one team. Everyone who was on the ice today did a great job. As for captain taking the penalty, it was a cross-check but that’s just emotions. The boys understand everything. It’s very intense out there and that leads to such penalties. When we started trailing behind, we shuffled our lines. You always have to have a plan B. It happened that we needed it today. Despite allowing all those goals, I have nothing to say against our defense. There were no huge problems. We’re going to take a look at the video, analyze our mistake and do our best to minimize them. Today we have another game to play.”