The Omsk netminder is in his first playoffs as a starting goalie.
Stanislav Berezhnoi, a native of Novokuznetsk, is in his second season with Omskie Yastreby as the starting goalie, but in the 2021/22playoffs, he made way for more experienced Andrei Mishurov, who helped the Omsk team win JHL medals for the first time since 2013. In the 2022/23 season, Berezhnoi is the undisputed starting goalie of Omskie Yastreby, and his team is the Gold Division winner in the Eastern Conference and one of the leading contenders for the Kharlamov Cup.
In an interview with the official JHL website, Stanislav Berezhnoi talked about moving from Novokuznetsk to Omsk, making his VHL debut, beating Stalnye Lisy in the playoffs, working with sports psychologist and changing his attitude to home life.
– How important was it for Omskie Yastreby to become the Gold Division winners?
– Generally speaking, the first place in the Gold Division does not generate anything. It is a good achievement for a young team like ours. Of course, we are happy to become the division winners and we really wanted to finish first in the regular season.
– You hardly had any bad streaks during the regular season.
– The team did listen to the coaches and it was the key to our consistent performance. But now we need to play more maturely. We are doing great offensively, but the team needs to play even more men-like.
– What were the things that did not allow you to beat Krasnaya Armiya in the 2022 playoffs?
– In fact, we played well against Krasnaya Armiya. Perhaps, we lacked emotion, as we had had a tough series against Stalnye Lisy before that.
– What impression has Vitaly Chernochub been giving during his two years with the team?
– None but positive. He is a very demanding coach. He teaches us many details. Plus, Vitaliy Gennadievich is a coach who greatly believes in offense. He focuses on offence a little more than on defense. Playing well offensively requires playing well in defensive zone. Yes, now we have great offence. But we do make mistakes in the D-zone, which we need to eliminate or at least limit. It is important to play more maturely and make no such mistakes.
– Chernochub always seems to be quite calm. Did the team ever happen to put him out of temper?
– We did (smiles). But we have only ourselves to blame. It is understandable. If we speak about some games in particular, I can cast my mind back to our latest road games against Krasnoyarskie Rysi and the 2-7 loss to Sibirskie Snaipery at the G-Drive Arena.
– How did you like the new arena?
– The game caused some mixed feelings. The arena itself is great. It was the first time for us to play in front of so many fans. Almost three thousand people attended the game. Perhaps it was the reason for us to get a little confused. We underperformed and underachieved. Plus, we had only spent a little while at the arena before the game, so it was pretty hard to get into stride.
– How would you describe your relationship with Konstantin Lobachyov who is now in his first JHL season as a goaltending coach?
– We have a good relationship. I worked with him back in those days when I was with the school. Despite being pretty close in age, we respect the subordination. He is, before anything else, my coach. I always pay heed to what he is telling me. He gives me many pointers and pieces of advice, presents videos of other goalies. He even gives some tips for everyday living.
– He used to play for Omskie Yastreby. Does he tell you anything about the JHL in those days?
– Yes, he had good seasons with the team and played many games. There were more teams back then and more games were played per season. Probably, it was even tougher for goalies compared to nowadays.
– Was it hard for you in the playoffs? You had been the starting goalie in the regular season and then Andrei Mishurov returned to the team to play elimination games.
– Well, it’s playoffs, everything is done for the good of the team, for team results. Being a backup goalie, I also contributed to wins in a way. If you overthink things, it won’t do any good. I just tried to take it as it comes and do what coaches asked me to do. Andrei was older and more experienced, I did understand that. For my part, I was doing my best to motivate and support the guys. There’s no need to get steamed up about such situations. Everyone should understand that in playoffs it’s all about the team but not personal results.
– There are many good shooters on your team. Whose shots are really hard to stop?
– I would say, Gleb Trikozov’s. Compared to Vanya Miroshnichenko, Gleb shoots better from the left. Vanya, on the other hand, can take great wristers from the right. Positioning also matters here.
– Mikhail Gulyayev said that even when Miroshnichenko was with the U16 team, his slap shot could damage defensemen’s pads. Does he deliver any damage to your gear?
– No, so far so good. He does shoot hard though. But it all comes down to the equipment you wear.
– How did Ivan feel after returning to hockey?
– We saw little of him when he was combatting his illness. But everyone on the team was worried about him and wished him a quick recovery. When he returned to hockey, it was clear that he would put his shoulder to the wheel, we could see his hunger to score goals and win games. Vanya’s goals were of great help to the team.
– Being from Novokuznetsk, how did you happen to be in Omsk?
– When I was in Novokuznetsk, I started working with agent Alexander Chernykh. Plus, goalie coach Oleg Konkov was working with me there. They told me that Ivan Tugarinov, the head of Avangard Academy, wanted to have a word with me. Having talked to them all I agreed to move to Omsk. I believe it has done me and my family a world of good. Avangard provides players with everything necessary to move up the tiers, offers great opportunities, has all necessary facilities and resources. Moving to Omsk has worked in my favor. But it was pretty tough at the beginning. I remember I just started crying once – I was missing my mom, dad, grandparents. But I have matured and now I live by myself, yet my parents still help me.
– Did anyone in Novokuznetsk try to discourage you from moving to Omsk?
– No. It even happened so that during practices with Kuznetskie Medvedi I was asked when I would go to Omsk. In general, everyone just wished me good luck and that’s it.
– Are games against Kuznetskie Medvedi critical for you?
– They used to be, but with the passing of time, I’ve started treating them like any other opponent. There used to be many friends of mine in Kuznetskie Medvedi, but now the team has many new faces. It is a different team now and the guys are not those I grew up with.
– Who was your idol back in those days when Novokuznetsk had a KHL team?
– Sergei Bobrovsky, of course. The whole city was following him. All kids wanted to be like him and I was no exception.
– With the teams being realigned in Gold and Silver divisions, is it hard to stay highly motivated when facing a Silver Division team?
– Being Gold Division leaders we see that each opponent is extremely motivated playing against us. All games against Silver Division teams were hard-fought. Yes, we are able to outmuscle them, but it is always an emotional challenge, because they are doing their best to prove that they are every bit as good as we are.
– Which of the Silver Division teams surprised you the most?
– Sibirskie Snaipery and Avto.
– These are two teams that believe in offensive hockey, correct?
– Yes, and I would also give credit to Chaika in this regard. They have older players on the team and the roster is pretty much the same as it was last season. It makes them a tough opponent that plays well at both ends. Speaking of the Gold Division, Stalnye Lisy have made a big impression on me personally. They beat us quite often in the 2021/22 regular season. If I’m correct, they won three out of four games we played. This season we have more wins to our name. It is an opponent I take very seriously. But playing against Mamonty Ugry was really tough especially after two consecutive losses that were painful for us. But we have turned the page on the past and keep moving on.
– Can you say that after the 2022 playoffs each game against Stalnye Lisy is a matter of principle?
– I don’t know. It’s just that they have a very strong team: their goalie, defensemen and forwards are all high-level. We have to give them credit, playing against them was an interesting experience.
– Which opposing forwards were giving you a hard time?
– Klimovich brothers come to my mind when I think of the game played at the G-Drive Arena. But it is not the worst memory of that night (laughs).
“I do not think it is embarrassing to see a psychologist”
– Avangard has sports psychologists. Have you worked with them?
– Yes, I saw a psychologist in December or January, when I had a bad streak. It was of good help. Plus, the coaches were very supportive and we were analyzing all my mistakes together. I was also working a lot with the video coach. They all helped me get through that tough period.
– Some people think it is embarrassing to see a psychologist.
– I am not one of them. I mean, it is great to have someone you can speak to in private to work on some psychological issues.
– As telegram channel Hockeymans78 reports, you have changed your attitude to home life. In what way?
– I had been renting an apartment for a long time. And then I had a bit of a bad patch, when I struggled with my performance and good games were followed by bad ones. Many changes took place. I kept thinking of what was going wrong. At the end of the day, I went the length of moving back to the Academy and staying there. It is what I talked about with Maxim Vlasov who manages the telegram channel. He helps many people. Yes, there was some misunderstanding between us. But now things have improved both in hockey and in our communication (smiles).
– Do you try to stint yourself in food?
– Yes, I have improved my nutrition. For instance, I drink nothing but water and avoid sugar and soda. I can eat a burger without gaining weight, because I drink only water. It allowed me to lose about six kilos during the season.
– I have noticed in one of the pictures that you wear a work glove inside your catcher. How does it help?
– I am not the only one who does it. For instance, Andrei Mishurov wears a glove inside his catcher too. It seems to me that it helps psychologically. Plus, it gives some extra grip, keeps your hand warm and feels nice. These are goalies’ oddities (laughs).
– Since those gloves are pretty thick, doesn’t wearing them inside a catcher make stopping pucks more difficult?
– It does not. You get used to it very quickly and hardly even pay attention to having an extra glove on.
– You were called up to Omskie Krylya. What are your impressions of playing in the VHL?
– I had set myself a goal of making my senior level debut during the season. I really wanted to play for Omskie Krylya. This experience gave me a positive impression, but I need to keep working hard. In my opinion, I am not fully ready for the VHL yet. They play different hockey there: higher speed, more battles and goalmouth scrambles. There are many talented VHLers who could play in the KHL. Playing against such guys is not an easy thing to do. You have to play smart, keep your head on a swivel and always talk to defensemen on the ice. Plus, you are to make quicker decisions when skating out and making a pass.
– You are quite a big player. Who are the goalies you look up to?
– I often watch Andrei Vasilevskiy playing. His agility is impressive given his height and size. His great conditioning allows him to play a large number of games. I also like the technique Igor Shesterkin executes, it is something to learn from. When it comes to the KHL, we must give credit to Nikita Serebryakov. His footwork is great and he moves really well in crease. I believe that he is the best KHL goalie this season.
– Are there any JHL goalies you like?
– I like the way Vyacheslav Peksa plays. By the way, his style is quite similar to that of Vasilevskiy and is based on quickness and agility. I can also name Sergei Murashov from Loko, he has more than ten shutouts this season. But he relies more on positioning and reacting.
– Do you have an understanding of what needs to be improved in order to start the next season as a full-time VHLer?
– Yes, I need to work on balance, mobility and flexibility. I think that my conditioning and speed are at good level. However, it wouldn’t hurt to improve my mental toughness, so as to play with more confidence.
– Omskie Yastreby won bronze medals. Are you now under pressure from any poorer result being considered a failure?
– Well, yes, we have set a high bar. But we should not think about it. We need to turn over a fresh leaf and get ready to face new opponents, play hockey the way we are able to. It is too early for us to think about bronze medals or the Kharlamov Cup – it can turn up the pressure.