About the League
In the fifth game of the Kharlamov Cup’s quarterfinals, Krasnaya Armiya defeated Loko 4-2. Yaroslav Likhachyov is the top scorer of the playoffs with 20 (12+8) points in nine games. He was the top scorer in both the round of eight and quarterfinals, beating Yegor Korshkov’s club record of 19 points in a single playoff. For the 20-year-old forward it’s his first and last season in the JHL, after he he returned home from overseas to become Loko’s leading scorer and sniper in the regular season with 74 (37+37) points in 51 games.
After the season ended for Loko, Likhachyov talked about what the Yaroslavl team failed to do in the series against Krasnaya Armiya, his achievements in the playoffs, and his plans for the future.
After finishing the regular season as the fifth seed in the Western Conference, Loko faced Almaz in the playoffs first round, going through the Cherepovets team with a 3-1 score. However, Loko’s season ended in the West Quarterfinals, when Krasnaya Armiya, who then went on disputing the finals with SKA-1946, won the series 3-2. “I would like to thank everyone on the team,” he says when asked about the playoffs. “The coaches, the guys. Maybe someone didn’t believe in us, because we came home with a 0-2 gap in the series, then we won two games in Yaroslavl, and came to Moscow with a huge desire to win. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
It wasn’t easy for Loko being down by two games after the first two clashed with the Moscow side. “We came out as if it was our last fight. We talked to the guys, imagined that these were our last games with each other on the same team and just fought to the last man.”
It worked out, as Loko won the next couple of games, 2:1, and 8:1, respectively. Then, the series returned to Moscow for the fifth, and deciding, match. “We really wanted to reach the highest level. We had our own rink at home, our own fans. That helped us a lot. Then we had a lot of people from Yaroslavl for the fifth game and we are very grateful to them. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make them happy.”
Likhachyov established a record in playoffs scoring, with his 20 accumulated points. “Of course, it’s always pleasant to break a record. But the upside ends there. We lost the series, we’re out. It’s very frustrating.” As a top scorer, the forward must have felt more attention from the opposition. “Krasnaya Armiya tried to play a very disciplined game, they almost never gave us free ice. Because of this, we had difficulties. It was the same against Almaz, but Krasnaya Armiya is a tougher opponent.”
After Lokomotiv was sent home in the KHL playoffs – ironically enough by CSKA – a few players with KHL experience joined Loko and strengthen the squad, like Maxim Beryozkin or Pavel Tyutnev. “They came to help us in the course of the season, we played together on a unit in the regular season. Everyone knew each other, it was comfortable to play.”
The current campaign was the first and last for Likhachyov, who is now too old to be eligible for Loko next term. “I will try to make it to the senior Lokomotiv team, that’s my main goal.”