Few imagined that Lokomotiv, following two convincing victories, would have any trouble overcoming HC MVD in Yaroslavl. But the Militia men had other ideas, and scored two short-handed goals and one more into an empty net, taking the series back to Balashikha for a final, decisive match on Sunday.
At first it seemed the Moscow region side would be completely without support. By the time the anthem had faded away the visitors’ sector still only contained a total of three fans, and most of those who made the journey from Balashikha were still outside the stadium when their favorites scored the first goal.
“The problem was that our accounts department was late allocating the money for ordering our tickets,” explained Vladimir Samokhin, head of the Moscow region club, “and we didn’t manage to get the tickets released in time for the start of the game.”
Oleg Znarok was full of cheer after a hard-earned victory:
“I’m happy we’ve kept the series alive. This was a very tough game for us. I’m proud of the guys and I thank them for their performance.”
Petr Vorobiev admitted that his opponents deserved to win.
“They sat back and played out of defense, and we made some crude mistakes in powerplay. That is unforgivable.”
After the game the sounds of jubilant players singing and cheerful music rang out from the Moscow region team’s changing room.
“We’re very pleased,” said forward Alexei Tsvetkov, “I think we proved to everyone that we can play well in away games when the home team has terrific support in the arena. We were playing against a very strong side, we had to put in a lot of effort, but we won all the same. We were great on the counter-attack.”
“It seemed the two heavy defeats you suffered had broken you psychologically. Did you have any strength left at the end?”
“We were never broken, of course not. We played really badly when we lost 1:6, and in the home defeat we made so many stupid mistakes you could say we beat ourselves, but today it was the opposite – Lokomotiv made the most mistakes. What happens next, only time will tell.”
Yaroslavl attacker Alexei Mikhnov also believes neither team takes any advantage into the seventh match:
“With any game the teams’ chances are 50-50 until the match starts, and then we see who is better. As for today, it seemed that in the whole game our opponents created three chances and converted two of them. And we just could not score. Our finishing let us down. I wouldn’t say their goaltender had a particularly great game, it is just that we simply didn’t manage to get shots on target.”
“Is it possible you just lost concentration after two big wins?”
“I didn’t feel that way, but maybe there’s something in that, in so far as we created a lot of chances and failed to finish them.”
“How angry did your coaches get about the kind of goals you conceded?”
“During the break they told us we needed to play responsibly, that you simply can’t make such mistakes when you outnumber the opposition two to one, but in the third period we made the same mistake.”
“We weren’t too bad when playing 5 on 5,” was Josef Vasicek’s view, “we had our moments, but HC MVD defended very well, they blocked a lot of our shots, and their keeper gave a solid performance.”
“In five of the six games in this series the team which scored the first goal has emerged victorious.”
“It’s been an important factor in the series. One team suddenly finds itself chasing the game and the other plays on the counter-attack. And both sides are very good at playing out of defense.”
“What is the mood like now in your team?”
“We all know we will be away from home facing a very strong side, but with all of us the mood is fine. We will battle and hope we’ll be successful.”
Many in Yaroslavl are hoping for success and have decided to support their team in the final game. Straight after today’s match there stood a long line of Lokomotiv fans, all hoping to sign up for the trip to Balashikha, so that at least Lokomotiv will not find themselves without support.