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Young Hawks cheer Russia on to another victory!

19 May 2014 | Interview

The Eighth Gazprom Neft Cup, held in 2014 simultaneously in Omsk and Minsk, ended a few weeks ago. The 11-year olds from Omsk Avangard school (the “Hawks”) reached the final of the East group, in which they lost to Ak Bars from Kazan by 0-1. The boys have now resumed practice and are supporting the Russian national team in the World Championship. The national team includes two Avangard players: the forwards Sergei Shirokov (No. 52) and Sergei Kalinin (No. 40).

Yesterday our team won its fifth victory in the games of the World Championship, which is still on in Minsk. Oleg Znarok’s players confidently outplayed the German national team 3-0 and are already assured first place in their group. The second puck into Philip Grubauer’s goal was a fine shot in the 51st minute by the Avangard forward Sergei Shirokov, who got round five opponents to send the puck into the top corner of the net.

The Avangard-2003 boys congratulate Sergei on his second World Championship goal and wish the Russian team the best of luck to win gold in Minsk!

“We and the boys do all we can to catch the World Championship games,” says the Avangard-2003 coach Michael Zlobin. “The broadcast starts quite late by Omsk time, so we watch recordings and then actively discuss and share our views during practices. It is great that the Russian team includes two (!) players from our main team. Our youngsters with left-hand grip want to be like Sergei Kalinin and the boys with right-hand grip model themselves on Sergei Shirokov. Both forwards are real masters and I am sure that they will set the tone and bring victory for Avangard next season!”

— At the end of April, your team was within reach of the Super Final at the Gazprom Neft Cup. Was that a strong emotion for the boys?

“Looking at the standard of organization of the Tournament and the work done to treat the young players to such a great hockey festival, my answer is a loud ‘Yes!’. It gave these 11-year-olds, who are just starting their careers, some tremendous emotions! The boys there are still reliving the experience and discussing what they should have done in particular games! Of course, it’s a double pity to lose because of a chance touch. But I told the boys that the Gazprom Neft Cup is effectively the children’s world championship! And the fact that we were a step away from the Super Final already deserves respect. Also, there are no victories without defeats. So our most important victories are yet to come!”

— Which of the teams impressed you most?

“I liked Ak Bars. They had a very organized defence and a great goalkeeper. Did you see how he played and his run of matches without a goal conceded? Traktor was a good opponent too. It’s actually surprising that they didn’t reach the top three, but this is children’s sport and there’s no knowing what will happen — a lot depends on the condition and mood of the team at a given moment.”

“Of course, we are cheering on the Russian team at the World Championship!” says the Avangard-2003 forward Nikita Zykov. “It’s great that our Omsk forwards are out there in the lead — they have both scored two goals each. I hope that Russia keeps winning gold at international competitions!”

— Would you like to play under the national colours when you grow up?

“You bet! It’s my dream, but it’s a long way off and there’s still a lot of work ahead. Right now the Gazprom Neft Cup is our most important tournament: our Cup opponents were the best and strongest in the KHL and the games were refereed by the best referees in the League. But what I and the boys really remember is the laser show and the closing ceremony — I have never seen anything like it before in real life!”

Teams mentioned Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars Kazan