Following his team’s defeat in the Game 1, Lokomotiv head coach Petr Vorobiev told us all how disappointed he was with his goaltender Georgy Gelashvili and that he may banish the star keeper to the bench. As soon as the Railwaymen arrived at the stadium, everyone just wanted to know who would be playing. The coach opened up and confirmed that it would indeed be Gelashvili.
“We had a meeting this morning, talked calmly, went over a few things from play, watched some clips,” - said Alexander Karpovtsev, Vorobiev’s assistant.
“And how are things with Gelashvili?”
“What about him?”
“Were there some kind of one on one talks?”
“No, of course not!”
Time to talk now about how Georgy performed. It is matches like these which made him the best keeper in the previous championship. Of course, he was not without some luck - the pipes twice came to his rescue - but otherwise he was flawless, and was blameless for the one goal he did concede. One reaction save he made in overtime was done while nearly airborne!
The second question in everyone’s minds before the game was whether the arena really was as hot, and whether the surface was as poor, as Alexei Mikhnov had claimed.
“I was surprised by those words,” said HC MVD’s Alexei Ugarov, “I agree about the ice, there’s something wrong with it. Strangely, it had been fine all season. About the lack of air… I’ve never felt it. Maybe I’ve just got used to it.”
Indeed, there was not another word from anyone on that subject. The post-match press conference was predictably brief. It is strange to expect coaches to say much in the middle of a series. What can they say, when the contest is so even?
“We had been working on our mistakes,” admitted Petr Vorobiev.
“This was not a disaster,” affirmed Oleg Znarok.
One can only agree with them.
“I’m sure the next two games will be just as tough and tense as the first two,” said Alexander Boykov, after giving a highly impressive display against Lokomotiv. “Two evenly-matched teams. I can’t say what was different from the first game. We just didn’t score.”
Ugarov was asked about the Salavat Yulaev vs Ak Bars result, and if it was true that all his team were cheering for the Ufa club.
“For the Ufa club?” the forward asked, understandably a little taken aback, “But why?”
“If they win, and if you lose to Lokomotiv, then you take the bronze medals of the Russian Open Chmpionships.”
“Really? I’m sure none of us has even thought about that.”
More than a few were wondering why the Balashikha team did not pressure Gelashvili, and why the goaltender was so confident and self-assured.
“There was no secret to our win in the first game,” explained Denis Kokarev, “we needed to send in as many shots as we could from various distances. If you think we had to skate up to Gelashvili and tell him something, then that didn’t happen in the first game either.”
Players from both teams agreed that every game in this series could well go to overtime, so close is the match-up. For HC MVD it is a huge compliment. The division winners have earned their reputation as serious title contenders.