About the League
Top Junior Hockey League players of Week 20 shared their thoughts. JHC Spartak Moscow goaltender spoke about the games against rivals Krasnaya Armiya, Chayka defenseman opened up about his move to Nizhny Novgorod, while SKA-1946 St. Petersburg forward looked back at the most memorable events of past week.
“There aren’t that many games left in the regular season so we’re a bit under pressure because of a bit of a slump that we hit, considering that Spartak isn’t that far ahead of the 9th place,” said JHC Spartak Moscow netminder Dmitry Kulikov. “These days I think more often about making the playoffs but I do my best to focus on the game. Last season I didn’t play a single game in the spring so I really want to be on the ice in the playoffs this year and go as deep as possible battling for the Kharlamov Cup.
“We had a bit of a different group of guys coming into the season. For instance, Bogdan Lvutin and Kirill Tagirov were always on the junior team. Then our top players started regularly being called up to KHL and VHL teams. We also had more luck in the beginning of the season and that’s why we were among the top teams of the East for so long.
“We lost to our rivals Krasnaya Armiya [Moscow] in our last games. There were a lot of fans at the games – even though, almost all of them supported the opposing team, the atmosphere was still comparable to KHL games. I wasn’t fazed by army fans’ songs aimed at me. On the contrary, it helped and motivated me. Obviously, we were missing our fans. There’s a small but loud group that comes to KHL games but, unfortunately, that isn’t the case at the junior games.
“Challenge Cup took place in Moscow last week. I didn’t get to go to the game but I watched it. I followed Evgeny Belov and Kirill Tagirov. Kirill had a chance to score late in the second period but he failed to convert on a breakaway. Hopefully, he will now score more goals for Spartak!”.
“This season I joined Chayka [Nizhny Novgorod] from Loko [Yaroslavl] but I adjusted well,” said Chayka Nizhny Novgorod defenseman Mark Pavlikov. “I settled in quick enough on Chayka because there were several of my former Loko teammates in Nizhny Novgorod. Lokomotiv is a club with a great junior hockey school and well-oiled system of developing young players. I don’t think that Torpedo system is drastically different. This season is my last in Junior Hockey League. Junior hockey time is winding down for me but I’ve got pro hockey ahead of me where I’m going to have to battle not only for the roster spot but also with myself. I think that I’ve accomplished all I could in JHL so I’m fully ready to make a step forward.
“I play for the VHL debutant Torpedo-Gorky. The team isn’t very consistent right now but first steps are always the hardest. There are a lot of players of different levels, coming from different systems and not everyone can adjust quickly. I haven’t scored a point for my new team, even though last year my productivity in the VHL was good. I think, I have a lot ahead of me”.
“Last week I had a memorable game against HK Riga. Our line was able to put together neat plays,” said SKA-1946 St. Petersburg forward Marat Khusnutdinov. “Besides, having won that game, we clinched the playoffs. Everyone congratulated everyone else on the team in the dressing-room after that game but it didn’t go further than that. Nothing changes for us going forward. We still have to keep winning and every game is a new challenge for us. I’m going to play in my first Kharlamov Cup playoffs so I’m agog. I’m not nervous or anything – I’m ready for the games.
“SKA-1946 is on a winning streak right now. We have won 16 games in a row. Actually, it’s going to be great to match or even get close to our all-time winning streak record. But right now we have to forget about everything and just gradually get ready for the final stages of the season. Recently we enjoyed one of the biggest blowout wins of the season, scoring 14 goals on ORG [Junior Beijing]. I didn’t get to score a lot of goals in the game. I try not to change my games against any opponent and be a team player – passing the puck and create plays.”