Russia’s new star was outshone by their old one Wednesday as Alexei Morozov, Russia’s leading goal scorer in each of the past three seasons, scored the final two goals of the game to lead AK Bars Kazan to a 4-2 victory over Avangard Omsk. Jaromir Jagr picked up an assist on the first goal of the game with a pass to Pavel Rosa that Rosa shanked, but managed to regain control of and put past former Islander goalie Wade Dubielewicz.
Dubielewicz outplayed Omsk starter and former Hurricane John Grahame, who likely wants to spend more time working on his angles on the large ice surface if the sharp-angle shot Morozov beat him with for the game-winner is anything to go by. Alexei Cherepanov was held off the scoreboard in limited ice time, particularly in the second half of the game when Jagr was regularly double-shifted in his place. It’s possible he may have suffered some sort of injury, as he played only 7:19 in 9 shifts, all in the first half of the game, but there’s been nothing from the team or in the press to confirm that thus far.
Omsk were guilty of numerous undisciplined penalties, including three in a row by Jagr’s linemate Jacob Klepis, and Ak Bars took advantage, scoring three of their four goals on the power play. The remaining Ak Bars goal was scored on a 3-on-4 shorthanded breakaway. You can check out the highlights from the game, or watch the whole thing on demand for yourself at SportBox.ru.
Rangers assistant coach Mike Pelino — who’s sporting some wicked facial hair — was at the game, having arrived in Kazan from Omsk with the team. Soviet Sport caught up with Pelino during Omsk’s morning skate and talked to him about the KHL, Chris Simon, and Cherepanov, among other things. Keep in mind that the original interview was conducted in English, then translated to Russian, and now back to English… so don’t get hung up on individual words or phrases in the translation below.
- I had previously been in Russia when I still worked as a coach for Team Canada. I came to St. Petersburg for the 2000 World Championships, and the year before the Maple Leafs played in the Baltic Cup. At the time we took a general tour of your country. Apart from Moscow and St. Petersburg, I have visited Cherepovets, Nizhni Novgorod, Yaroslav and other fine places.
- After these 10 years, have they become even finer?
- Without a doubt! First of all I admire the hockey arenas. Look at the arenas that were built in Omsk, or here, in Kazan. Yes, the stadiums in the NHL seat one and a half to two times more spectators. But I think you’ve thought everything through. If you build an arena for 20,000, it would be difficult to sell-out and in general to do business.
- How does the KHL differ from the NHL?
- Right away the size of the ice surfaces caught my attention. They are wider than overseas by four meters. It is not a place for bang-bang plays. Here the hockey is more calculated, inter-connected. Players spend more time in the attacking zone and hold on to the puck better — I’d say its because they’re not being hit every minute.
- Is that good or bad?
- It’s probably good… You simply play different hockey. It has its own charm.
- Regarding hits and fights. What do you think of the debut of Chris Simon for Vityaz?
- What has he done?
- He gave HK MVD defensman Mikhail Fedoseyev the business — a young guy who had only just debuted in the elite league.
- Simon is a good person. His teammates love him. That’s how it was on the Rangers when Chris played for us before the lockout. But when Simon goes out on the ice sometimes its as if he goes mad. It doesn’t matter to him who he fights with.
- You watched a KHL game on TV. Did you like the picture?
- Thoroughly. The quality was clear, the camera work was good. I remember how recordings of super league games were previously sent to us — it was as if they were filmed on an amateur camera at a movie theater from under a pirate’s jacket. Now it’s all different. A lot of statistics, impressive work by the commentators.
- [But] you don’t understand Russian.
- But these guys have such a fire on the air that even I was hooked. At first I thought I’d turn off the sound completely. But when the commentators started to shout emotionally “Radulov!”, “Teverdovski!”, “Vishnevski!” I decided to leave it on. A great deal of it was clear to me.
- Has Jagr asked you how things are going with the Rangers?
- He is interested only in how the guys are doing. Now he thinks only of Omsk.
- What do you think of the relationship between the KHL and NHL?
- I believe that we should respect each other’s contracts. I don’t know about other clubs in the NHL, but the Rangers will not break that rule. Cherepanov has a contract here with Avangard — we will not entice him to [come to] us. Let him play in Omsk and gain experience. And if Alex says that its better for him in Russia, we will not start harassing him.
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