2018 YEARBOOK. IGOR BONDYREV

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30.05.2018 в 13:51

2018 YEARBOOK. IGOR BONDYREV

Igor Bondyrev won four trophies in three Junior Hockey League seasons – he won Kharlamov Cup in his debut and final years, and he also hoisted JHL Super Cup and Junior Club World Cup in-between. In this interview with Junior Hockey League media relations department Bondyrev takes a look back at his major junior career, talks about wearing contact lenses, Junior Club World Cup curse and compared his emotions from winning his first and last championship titles.

“I began playing hockey in Loko-04 junior hockey school. The school just opened back then and they were looking for 1996, 1997 and 1998 year borns,” says Bondyrev. “At first we all practiced together, then we were divided into groups and I played with older kids for a while. We also had a bit of a mix-up with coaches. We had a total of six head-coaches over the years on our team. Among them were Sergei Anatolievich Kislitsyn, Evgeny Alexandrovich Perov, who then went on to be a part of U18 Team Russia coaching staff, and Sergei Leonidovich Tkachenko, Ivan Tkachenko’s brother.”

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- Why do you wear glasses in many pictures?
- Those are not for fashion. I have a minus-1.5 sight. Incidentally, Loko’s Pavel Kudryavtsev got his sight going bad at about the same time with me. He and I have tried just about anything, you name it. For example, for an entire year we wore night lenses – you put them on for the night and it brings your sight back to normal by the morning but then it gradually becomes worse during the day. It’s not very comfortable when the team goes on the road at night. You can’t put them on in that instance and then your sight is bad in the morning. So Pasha and I switched to regular lenses. We put them on before the games.

- Many players used contact lenses. For instance, Helmuts Balderis. Some of them even lost their contacts on the ice. Has that ever happened with you?
- I was asked that question on Loko and Ryazan. However, I am yet to lose contacts during the game. Although, one time I had to play with just one lens. That was back in junior hockey school when we played against Vityaz. While I was putting the lenses on, I got an infection in my eye. It was painful and I had to take one lens off. It didn’t bother me much, though.

- In 2016 Loko won Junior Club World Cup and you went against one hockey superstition as you touched the trophy.
- As team captain, I took the cup at the ceremony and later that year Loko got eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs. I was told after that I should have done it. I mean, we had a special ceremony and we brought the cup to Arena-2000 to show it to the fans. I have already given advice to future Loko captains so it wouldn’t happen again – under no circumstances touch Junior Club World Cup!

- Did you lose your captaincy for that mistake?
- Last season it was important for me to be the captain. I wanted to lead my team and give advice to rookies. [Head-coach] Dmitry Ivanovich [Krasotkin] trusted me with that role and I gained a valuable experience. This season I was an alternate captain at first and then was promoted to captain. Although, I don’t think it had anything to do with that Junior Club World Cup.

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- What other superstitions do you have?
- It’s not that I’m superstitious but I’m very big on set routine before the game. After getting to the rink, I get dressed for the warm-up, then take my vitamins and tape my stick. Sometimes I even take my vitamins in a special order just in case.

- You’re going to compete for Kharlamov Cup anymore. How important was it for you to end that journey with a gold medal?
- Of course, I wanted to finish it on a bright note. Although, it was equally important to win Kharlmov Cup back in 2016 as well. It was important to win the cup for those guys who were retiring from junior hockey that year. They wanted to win something to remember it by, because they had only won bronze medals before that. As for me, I won Kharlamov Cup in my rookie Junior Hockey League season. Besides in 2016 I played in every playoff game except the very first one because of a minor injury. So my emotions were even more vivid when we won the cup for the first time.

- Moreover, you finished the 2016 final series in Yaroslavl, while in 2018 Loko clinched the championship on the road in St. Petersburg.
- That’s why the celebration was a little different that time. After winning the cup in St. Petersburg we had to bus it for 12 hours back to Yaroslavl.

- Have you opted for your right to spend a day with the cup yet?
- I just took it home on both occasions, nothing special. My friends, family and neighbors came over for the party. So I can’t have a quite walk down the stairs in my apartment building now. The neighbors always recognize me, congratulate me and ask questions about my plans for the future.

- Do you get recognized by anybody else but your neighbors?
- We were at a restaurant one night and I went to washroom. A man in there recognized me and wanted to take a picture. As I was leaving the restaurant, a woman approached me and also asked to take a picture. I don’t even know what to do with all this attention to my person.

- It’s been a few weeks since you won the cup. Have your emotions gone done a little?
- It looks that way but sometimes I stumble across old videos and interviews on the Internet and the emotions, I had before, rush back. For example, I read an old Anton Malyshev’s interview. It had a video attached to it at the end – the final six seconds of Game 6. It was just like being on the ice again.

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- If you had to compare your 2016 and 2018 playoff campaigns, which road to Kharlamov Cup was more difficult?
- There were a lot of similar episodes. For instance, the opening rounds were almost the exact copy of each other. In 2016 we played against Amurskie Tigry and won the series 3-0, although the only game in we played in Khabarovsk, we won in double overtime! And we played after a long flight, acclimatization and adjusting to a different time zone. The fact that we flew on a comfort class plane played a huge role – we had more leg room, which is very comfortable for tall players like myself, Yegor Korshkov or Pavel Kraskovsky.

Dmitry Ivanovich Krasotkin said then that had we lost that game, the whole playoffs would have panned out differently. In fact, we would have had to play another game in Khabarovsk and then perhaps go back to Yaroslavl for Game 5. In 2018 we had the same situation in the series against Russkie Vityazi. We were up 2-0 in the series but then Chekhov won Game 3 on double overtime. Game 4 also went to overtime but we managed to come out on top.

- This past season you were called to Lokomotiv a few times but didn’t spend much time with the time. How did you like the experience?
- Unfortunately, I wasn’t invited to pre-season camp with Lokomotiv as I had a surgery on my meniscus. After the very first practice at the gym my knee bloated up and my leg wouldn’t bend. That had happened before and the doctors said that I had some trouble with my ligaments. Either way, the coaches didn’t see me in action and that’s why I was sent down to Ryazan along with Yegor Fateyev and Pavel Kudryavtsev.

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- You did play one KHL game, however.
- When Dmitry Kvartlanov took over Lokomotiv, he scouted new players for the team. I was called up to Lokomotiv in mid-season. Perhaps, I made myself noticeable because around that time I led Ryazan in goals. I made my Kontinental Hockey League debut in the game against Ugra. I wasn’t really nervous but I was a bit clumsy and made many mistakes. So they sent me back to Ryazan.

- Starting next season Lada Togliatti is going to affiliated with Lokomotiv.
- I heard they were going to cut the budget in Lada but it still would be bigger than Ryazan’s. Moreover, Togliatti has great infrastructure and accommodation of KHL caliber. I didn’t feel all that comfortable in Ryazan in those terms.

- Two Kharlamov Cups, JHL Super Cup and Junior Club World Cup. Not a bad result for JHL career, would you agree?
- On one hand, I’m obviously very happy that I was a member of Loko and won all those trophies with the team. But, on the other hand, now I have to start from scratch all over again and prove my worth to the club. And that’s how my hockey life is going to be like – every season you begin from scratch.

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