This is a story about an unusual family tradition that will change your perception of a typical hockey fan. Standard situation where father takes his son to a hockey game is not what this piece is about. Introducing: mother Anna and her daughter Dasha – Omskie Yastreby fans. They back them up whether it’s a big win or a tough loss.
- Tell us about your first hockey game.
Anna: Dasha went to Arena-Omsk for the first time to see a kid tournament Gazpromneft Cup. She was just three years old back then.
Dasha corrects her mother saying that actually her first ever hockey game was a Junior Hockey League game, which took place on March 18th, 2015. It was a Round of 16 Kharlamov Cup playoff game between Omskie Yastreby and Reaktor Nizhnekamsk. ‘The Hawks’ lost that game 3-2 in overtime.
: I remember it was so great at the arena. There was a playroom for kids, bear mascots, whom, to be honest, I was a little afraid of, and the game itself was excellent.
: As for me, my first hockey game was in March 1995. Avangard faced Dynamo Moscow in Russian championship playoffs. Avangard lost by a blowout by I was conquered by hockey. Actually, my daughter went to a number of hockey games even before she was born. Including a week before her birth.
- A true hockey fan since Day 1! So when did she actually come to the stands?
: In late August – early September Junior Hockey Club World Cup was hosted in Omsk. The tournament ended on September 3rd. I went to three games. My daughter was born on September 13th. She went to her first hockey game when she was three years old, even though she had begged me to take her there earlier.
- How did you like Junior Club World Cup? What was your impression of the tournament?
: It was very exciting. After all, international tournaments don’t come too often to our city. Krasnaya Armiya Moscow won the tournament. Many players from that team play at a high level in the KHL and NHL. It was very emotional for players and fans. Omsk fans cheered very loudly.
- In 2013
Omskie Yastreby won Junior Club World Cup on home ice.
: I went to other Junior Club World Cup tournaments, too, but still that I never felt the same excitement that I did the first time. When Omskie Yastreby won the cup, it felt awesome. Several players from that team are regulars on their KHL teams. Some of them even play for Avangard. For example, Ilya Dervuk and Maxim Kazakov.
- How often do you get to go to Junior Hockey League games?
: We usually go to JHL games together with my daughter. It’s only KHL games that I rarely take her with me. To be honest with you, she would like to go to hockey games more often but she has practices of her own. She plays tennis and swims. That’s why she often doesn’t have the time for everything.
- Has she ever asked you to sign her up for hockey?
: She fiddled with the idea for a while after I took her to first couple of games. Although, soon enough she told me that she’s just going to stay a fan and would pick a more feminine sport. But she does have friends who signed up for hockey classes. Hopefully, we’re going to get to cheer for them as well in a few years. She met one of her friends, who is a 6-year-old goaltender, right at an JHL game, actually. They talked non-stop all through the game, and discussed how many baby teeth each of them had lost. As the matter of fact, when Daria was begging me to take her to a hockey game, I spoke to my colleagues about it. They advised me to take her there once so she would see what it was like and stopped begging me. That was my idea behind taking her to the hockey game. Although, she keeps begging me to this day, so the advice didn’t work out.
- What were her impressions of her first hockey game?
: She enjoyed everything at her first game, except two things. First of all, our team lost. And the other thing she didn’t like was that after the game one of the referees gave her a puck and it wasn’t of pink color.
- Did you get to go to any road games of either Omskie Yastreby or Avangard?
: I haven’t gone to any Omskie Yastreby road games. But I had gone to a lot of Avangard road games in many cities but it all was before Dasha was born. I went to Yaroslavl, Moscow, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk, Astana and Yekaterinburg. I had a great time everywhere and I never felt any negative coming from local fans. On the contrary, they always made me feel welcome everywhere! I try to bring back stuffed toys with club logos from everywhere I go. Dasha inherited this little collection of mine.
There was an interesting story in Czech Republic. My girlfriend and I went to Kladno arena. It was in the summer and the arena was going through some renovations. There was nobody around the arena. The guard at the arena spoke neither Russian, nor English. We found a store with Kladno merchandise. While we were shopping, we got talking with the store manager. When he heard magic words ‘Avangard’, ‘Omsk’ and ‘Jagr’, he smiled, remembered that he spoke Russian pretty well and gave us a tour around the arena.
As for other teams’ fans, I have one professional story. I was writing an article about married couples, who met each other through hockey. I found three such couples. First story was between an Avangard fan and a girl who rooted for Sibir. They met at Novosibirsk arena. Second story was about two Avangard fans. He lived in Omsk and she lived in Vladivostok. They met on the Internet on one Metallurg Magnitogorsk forum. They were just dating back then but now they have three children. Third story was also about Avangard fans. They both moved to Moscow and met each other when they went to see Avangard play there.
- Does your whole family go to the games? How does Dasha’s father like it?
: Dasha’s father prefers to watch soccer and Formula-1 on television. He went just a couple of times to Arena-Omsk. If that. But he understands our passion.
- Does Dasha have any favorites on the team?
: Of course! When she just started going to Omskie Yastreby games, her favorite player was Tigran Manukyan. Now her favorite player is Maxim Mineyev.
- Dasha, what is your most favorite thing in hockey?
: My favorite thing in hockey is goals that our team scores and when our team wins. I never get bored at hockey!
- And what does the mother like?
: First thing that got me was the enormous energy vibes coming from the stands. Little details and rules – all that came later. My passion for hockey roots from the atmosphere. To this day I see live hockey and TV hockey as two different sports. There’s also Omsk specifics. They don’t say that Avangard is one of the most ‘adrenaline’ teams for nothing. That’s exactly what it is. It’s also a drug.
- Do you have any hockey superstitions?
: Dasha knows that one mustn’t praise goaltender until the game is over. Although, sometimes she just can’t help it.
- Do you follow Omskie Yastreby alumni, who play in the KHL or other leagues?
: I mostly follow those who play in the KHL. It’s always great to see them play.
- If they play for Avangard?
: Or any other team. We follow former Omskie Yastreby players who play for different KHL teams.
- At the recent NHL Entry Draft, which was held in North America, Omsk junior hockey school alumnus Dmitry Zavgorodny was selected 198th overall by the Calgary Flames. He didn’t play much for Omskie Yastreby but maybe you still remember him?
: To be honest with you, I can’t say that I remember him on the team. Although, he did win Kiselyov award as the top player of his team twice so he’s a talented player. We wish him good luck!
- Could you tell us a little more about the award?
Anna: It’s an award for Avangard junior hockey school players. It’s also handed out to Omskie Yastreby and Avangard players after the season. In junior hockey school it’s the coaches who decide who should get the award. As for Omskie Yastreby and Avangard players, the fans get to vote on that.
- Dasha, what’s your take on your team’s performance last season?
: I enjoy every game, even those when they don’t do well. Of course, it’s sad that they missed the playoffs and their season came to such an early end. We had a lot of players on our team, who were just making their first steps in Junior Hockey League and it was a tough season for them. But they will definitely do better next year and we’re going to get to go to hockey games in the spring as well.
- Aside from hockey, what other activities do you enjoy at the arena as well?
: Playroom, sweets and popcorn. I also enjoy very much talking to my older girlfriends, who work in media relations.
- Do you want to play hockey yourself?
Dasha: I’m in swimming and tennis. I already have a few medals. Let the boys play hockey and I’m just going to cheer for them.
- Do you have a favorite chant?
: I like clapping my hands along with the fans and I also loudly yell “Shaybu, Shaybu!” when our team is on the offensive rush. My mother tells me that they actually listen to me quite often and do score goals.
- What would you like to wish to your team?
: I would like to wish our team to win all the games! I understand that it never happens but that’s what I wish. I also wish all players to stay healthy and avoid injuries.
- What do you wish to Junior Hockey League and Omskie Yastreby in the future?
: It’s sad that junior hockey games don’t attract as many fans as KHL games. Because the games are very exciting! I believe that they should get more young fans and kids to come to the games. We have some excellent guys on our team. They never say no to taking pictures with them or when somebody asks them for autograph. It’s so nice! For example, I like to come to Arena-Omsk for public skating. Junior hockey players often come there, too. I don’t skate for well yet but they always help me! I would also like to see more toy with the team logo and clothes for kids from the club!