Vyacheslav Gretsky, Dinamo Minsk and Team Tarasov
It wasn’t easy to score. I managed to get a shot away, but it barely reached the net. To be honest, my heart was pounding; at the start I thought it would stop. I wanted to keep my promise and bring draniki [a traditional Belarusian potato pancake] for the goalie but in the end we had to give him syrniki [a popular cheesy pancake] instead because we made them here in Moscow. Julius [Hudacek] didn’t say anything, but he gobbled it all up so it must have been tasty! I’m sure my team is watching the All-Star action, I can see people chatting about it online.
Danis Zaripov, Ak Bars and Team Kharlamov
As usual, everyone had a great time at this festival. I’m really keen on the idea of people wearing traditional costumes. Even though we’re all used to these games, every year people come up with something different. And so we decided to go out with a Tatar flag and a big Achpochmak [Tatar meat pie]. As you can see, it helped us, we got more points than everyone else! But really, today isn’t about winning or losing. The All-Star Game is a festival and everyone wants to relax and enjoy themselves.
Yegor Anisimov, Dynamo St. Petersburg (JHL) and Team Tarasov
It’s great to be a part of the KHL All-Star Game. I tried to treat it like a show, but I had some serious nerves before we started. I’m proud to represent the JHL and my club, Dynamo SPb. And I’m especially pleased that I was the fastest in my event. Before the show, the more experienced guys in the locker room tried to get everyone in the mood, everyone started chatting and helping the younger guys to feel at home. I hope there’s even more fun to come, after all, many players don’t get the chance to go to the All-Star Game in their entire career, and I’ve made it. It’s something to be proud of.
Darren Dietz, Barys and Team Chernyshev
Why Pushkin? Because everyone associates Russia with poetry and literature. I learned some of Pushkin’s verses, I spent maybe 10, 12 hours on it. I’m interested in Russian literature, to be honest English writers weren’t so interesting to study. To be honest, I’d never heard of this writer before I came to Russia. I still don’t know his life story: that’s my second class. Today I’ve only completed lesson one.
Ilya Sorokin, CSKA and Team Tarasov
Along with Bauer, we visited the cardio unit at a children’s hospital and the kids helped me make these lovely pads. They drew all over them. Now we’re putting them up for auction and all the proceeds are going to help pay for treatment for Vilen Prokofiev, a young goalie. I’d like to say a big hello to Vilen and urge him to stay strong. We’re all rooting for you!
Alexander Semin, Vityaz and Team Tarasov
I don’t think I could play in a Bogatyr’s helmet, I don’t know how the Russian heroes of old, the Vityazi, fought while wearing them! Before the All-Star Game, the idea of taking a penalty shot with my boy came up spontaneously. He liked the idea, so we did it. I haven’t been at an event like this since 2006 in Mytishchi, back before the KHL. So thanks for inviting me this time!
Yegor Chinakhov, Omskiye Yastreby and Team Chernyshev
At the All-Star Game everything is cool. At first, I was nervous, worried about making a mistake, but the guys were so supportive and I quickly calmed down. For example, Tomas Zohorna asked me to help him practice his Russian. I’ve been watching all the players closely and trying to learn from the best. It’s fun to see everyone in an atmosphere like this, when it’s so relaxed. But I’m also trying to focus on my hockey. I even got a chance to chat with Bob Hartley, Igor Bobkov helped to interpret for us.
Jyrki Jokipakka, Sibir and Team Chernyshev
I know that in Russian my name sounds like the expression ‘yolki-palki’, so I decided to dress up as a ‘yolka’, a fir tree, for my penalty shot. It’s always good to keep that holiday mood, especially since I used to dream of meeting Joulopukki, the Finnish Santa Claus. I think my winning shot in the competition was the hardest I’ve hit a puck in my life. I can’t imagine ever beating Ryazantsev’s record.
Leonid Weisfeld, TV pundit and commentator
I could just about picture myself as a coach, but I never imaged I could sing in front of a packed arena. It was fun to perform in front of such a crowd and I knew that I was part of a team that I could rely on. Among the players, I really liked Darren Dietz’ performance. He recited Pushkin with such feeling. I’ve never heard a North American speak such good Russian. But it’s not easy being a coach. From the bench it’s hard to see anything. In the commentary box you give a different view and lots of different angles. The game looks very different!
Ilya Shinkevich, Vityaz and Team Tarasov
Everything went well, I’ve only good things to say about it. I’d like to thank the Belarusian fans who voted for me to come here. It’s really nice. At first I didn’t know anything about it, but then my friends started calling from Minsk to tell me what was going on. I was a big surprise, I was in shock! But then I got used to the idea and I’m really enjoying it.
Ivan Bocharov, Dynamo Moscow and Team Bobrov
It’s great to be at an event like this. We’ve got the best players in the league right now, lots of top imports, and it’s a real honor for me to represent Dynamo here. Today my wife and family came along to support me and hopefully tomorrow even the kids will come along. Of course I saw Pekka Rinne’s goal the other day and I’d love to do that myself one day. Of course, it’s not my major ambition, but it would be nice to do it. It’s not every day that goalies get to score. If I’d had time to practice, I’m sure I could have scored with one of my three shots today. Tomorrow, of course, we’re playing to win. In these games, the goalies have a big role. If the players enjoy themselves too much, there will be a lot of goals.