How, how can this be? Last season, only the lazy did not throw stones at the record holder in the history of the league for the number of defeats, Sochi. Against the background of a complete fiasco, the club remembered all its failures. Starting with the change of coach (three coaches in one season) and ending with the fact that SKA St. Petersburg threw an unnecessary burden on the team, but the 2023-2024 regular season began and Dmitry Kokorev’s team not only played a easy and enjoyable offensive hockey. , but he also started to win, unexpectedly climbing into the top three. But this was a surprise only to those who rarely watch hockey. The combination of factors suggests that this is a completely predictable outcome.
Once upon a time, Severstal Cherepovets played a series of matches of the so-called KHL world tour, against the Finnish Jokerit in Tallinn. After an unconditional defeat in the first game, the then helmsman of the Cherepovets team, Andrei Razin, was asked: “When will Severstal be able to defeat Jokerit?” Andrei Vladimirovich, now the highest-status leader of Magnitogorsk Metallurg, responded: “When young people and experienced players find chemistry with each other and get used to each other, then they will begin to give serious results.”
The talented coach knew what he was talking about. Over the next two seasons, his club made people talk seriously about itself, becoming one of the strongest teams in the league. Something similar is happening now with the residents of Sochi. The team’s young players have matured and the goalkeepers have reached a new level. Mikhail Berdin, who was discarded after a failed trip to North America, became the embodiment of reliability overnight. And Maxim Tretyak completely went from being “a goalkeeper brought to the club solely under the patronage of his grandfather” to a guard who dried up the formidable “Lokomotiv” from Yaroslavl this season.
The field players also keep up with the goalkeepers. This is especially true for legionary positions. Currently, American Jesse Graham is among the best defensemen in the KHL and Borna Rendulic and Michal Krystof score points in every game. The team’s experienced players were also joined by those who were mercilessly criticized last season.
Timur Khafizov becomes a real leader and main scorer of the team. Matvey Michkov arrived and already has the best background in the league. He gave three assists and will soon start scoring goals. He didn’t even enter the SKA starting eleven. Arthur Tyanulin, Amir Garayev, Ildar Shiksatdarov show themselves decently, and Kirill Rasskazov is becoming an elite center before our eyes.
By the way, Matvey Michkov found chemistry in the southernmost KHL club. Having worked with coach Dmitry Kokorev, last year he also gave results. And, despite his rather absurd and explosive character, Kokorev’s Michkov is transformed into a real “leopard.” In addition, Matvey is inextricably linked with Sochi because of the tragic story of the death of his father…
As a result, it turns out that one of SKA’s perennial favorites has fallen, and its coach, Roman Rotenberg, is in a bind as he searches for the reasons for the unsuccessful start to the new season. And Sochi, into which the St. Petersburg club dumped illicit assets, and also constantly takes brilliant hockey players out of there for a minute, is in the lead.
In addition, if you look at the hockey that the “Leopards” demonstrate, it becomes clear that the team’s coaching staff has taken the now popular path of developing offensive hockey. In the KHL of 2023-2024, this is a real trend and boom. Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo, Cherepovets Severstal and Spartak already play in the “not a step behind” style, and the capital’s Dynamo is not far behind the others.
From all of the above, it can be concluded that if the coach and management treat their team with care, and the Club stops shaking up the squad and changing coaches like gloves at every opportunity, this gives a positive result. Coast, mountains, good air, quiet work environment: why not play a good game of hockey? Also, as usual, Sochi’s players receive less attention than the giants of Russian hockey, which is why the team rose so high in the rankings.
SKA is at the bottom. What is happening with the great one from Saint Petersburg?