The season proved fruitful for the flourishing of young Russian goalkeepers. One of them is Sergei Ivanov, former youth team goalkeeper, potential youth team goalkeeper and current Admiral goalkeeper. For several years at SKA he did not have any scoring opportunities and his loan to Vladivostok became his salvation. The young goalkeeper has already started 15 games, much more than in his years at SKA. Ivanov talked about how he felt about moving to the Far East, why he didn’t paint his helmet, the importance of practicing at a high level, the NHL and the potential Russian youth team in an interview with “Championship.”
One of the reasons for the KHL season is the blossoming of young goaltenders. 6 Russians who have declared themselves
“The Far East derby is its own mini-tournament. “Everyone forgets where they are on the table.”
—How did you feel about SKA’s lease to Admiral? – It was unexpected. At first he was a little worried about how everything would be, what life would be like there, what it would be like. But it turned out that everything was even better than he thought. And the team, and the team, and everyday life. At first he showed himself everything. Little by little we are getting used to flying. Everything’s fine.
— Was it easy to settle in Vladivostok? – Is not difficult. The first two or three days are for acclimatization, and then you get into a rhythm, a routine, and everything is great.
— Did you and Dmitry Buchelnikov support each other? – Certainly. We lived with him in the same room for a month. When you travel together, it’s still a little easier. Go somewhere together. New city, new team, new partners. And together he and I delved into all of this.
—How do you handle the flights? – Nothing bad. We try to sleep more, relax, watch something, television series or movies. Read, speak, communicate. Discuss some points about the game. Everything is as always.
—What do you think of the Far East derby against Amur? Six games with the same opponent. — In fact, this is my first experience in a derby. Some unusual coincidences indeed. Everyone forgets where they are in the rankings. And then there’s our own mini-tournament. Fans get very excited when this happens. And the shape is so beautiful. I went out to the first game and thought: “That’s great!” A different atmosphere indeed. It’s great that this exists.
—Why did you decide not to paint the helmet with the “Admiral” colors? “It’s not that I decided, I just didn’t have time.” I arrived and it was already games. There is no second helmet yet, they have not delivered it. Desire to eat. Maybe during a break. But we need to find a teacher. My teacher is located in Saint Petersburg. Therefore, while the delivery is taking place, this and that…
“Both Tambiev and Rotenberg are excellent specialists with their own particularities”
— Leonid is also considered a tough coach. Is this a myth or truth? — Well, each coach is tough in his own way. Because everyone wants to win. Everyone wants kids to develop. And I think he is a normal coach (laughs). I’m a goalie, so I’m tough, not hard… My job is to catch the puck, help the team win every game, fight for that puck. If I do all this and bring benefits to the team, then it doesn’t matter if the coach is tough or not, he will still believe and put me in the lineup.
— Did you find a common language with goalkeeping coach Tsarev? – Yes, sure. Andrey Anatolyevich also played in his time. This is a great experience for me, he is a good specialist. We immediately found a common language.
—Is working with Leonid Tambiev different than working with Roman Rotenberg? – Both are excellent specialists with their particularities, and yet my task as a goalkeeper is to go out and play, to do the job that is expected of me. And besides, the attackers don’t care. Somewhere they have more contact with them, we work more with the goalkeeping coach and the goalkeeping coach is already passing everything on to the head coach. So I don’t really notice it.
—Was it a shame not to be able to play against SKA? – I dont even know. Well, they didn’t install it and that’s fine. We won’t have any more games with them. It didn’t work, that’s how it has to be.
—Did someone sponsor you at Admiral? – Yes, we became friends with everyone and we got along well. And that’s why it’s normal. Except Denis Golubev protected Buchelnikov and me a little.
—Do you feel threatened by competition from Vasili Demchenko? “On the contrary, it’s fantastic that we have a goalkeeper like that.” And Pasha Khomchenko was there, it was also interesting to work with him. And now Vasya and I will work together. Our task is the victory of the team. We will do our best for this. There is no threat. We do one thing together.
“They spoke to Kravets once, he never spoke to me again.” Frank interview with Demchenko
“95 saves in two games? Here it is, defense! “Admiral’s style makes life easier for the goalkeeper”
— This is the first season in which you played more than five games in the KHL. Don’t you feel like you’ve gotten caught up in the MHL and VHL? — More than five games… If you add that season, you only get two in total. I do not know yet. Anyway, when I first left the MHL, I had to play a season in the VHL. And it’s good that that season they gave me a feeling of the league, that whole atmosphere inside. This is what happened with the rent. They gave me an opportunity here and I am very happy about it. And I am happy that this opportunity has arisen to develop and become stronger and reach a new level.
Sergei Ivanov during a game for SKA-1946
Photo: Ilya Smirnov, foto.khl.ru
— Is practice more important for a goalkeeper than for a field player? — Practice is important for everyone. First of all, confidence comes with practice and games. If you go game after game, you still notice some new moments and confidence comes to the game. It’s the most important thing.
— Have your preparations changed due to the large number of matches? — In the preparation, of course, something is changing: in some places there is more rest, because the matches are played every two days. Also the Far East, flights. I sleep more now. I try to rest more, I choose a relaxing vacation. If only I had a guitar, of course… But I left the guitar in St. Petersburg. There was no place for a guitar.
— Does Admiral’s defensive style make life easier for a goalkeeper? – Certainly. When a team plays well defensively, it is always good. Good.
—Did you quickly find communication with the defenders? – Fast. Everything was discussed. Literally one or two games, and I figured out where I needed to get out the door and where I didn’t. Where they block shots, where I have to help. In this sense it was easy.
— “Almirante” started the season quite weakly. Does the team still have a chance to make the playoffs? – Of course there are possibilities. There are many more games. Now the team is gaining momentum, new players have joined and team spirit is starting to emerge. We have a good team, we must fight for a place in the playoffs.
— You once made 95 saves in two games and only conceded one goal. Could this be the best memory of your life? — That’s defense (laughs). In fact, there could have been more goals. It all depends on the moments. There are 50 shots per game and two moments of danger. And there are 20 shots, and all 20 are dangerous, from the close zone. It is also the work of the boys, the work of the team, that helps and prevents the attackers from getting closer. This is a lot of work for the entire team.
— Nikita Serebryakov had an excellent season a year ago, now you have entered the league very well. Does the Admiral style contribute to high-quality goalkeeping play? – May be. If this happens. A lot of work, many moments appear in the game. They also gave me the opportunity to play back-to-back games. All this gives confidence. If you are confident and understand what you want, you see your goal and move towards it in a simple way, and that’s it.
—Was moving to Almirante a relief? He finally practices at the KHL level.— Before the transfer, I only played three games for SKA and I didn’t know what to expect. Everything depended and depends only on me. I played well in one or two games, they gave me a chance and they won somewhere. And there was confidence in me and the opportunity to play every game. Great experience for me.
— Are you afraid of returning to SKA next season? – No, why would it be scary? Vice versa. My task here is to get stronger, gain confidence and help the team reach the playoffs. And then we will think about what and how.
— You said you are ready to compete in SKA. Did other thoughts arise when SKA started signing other goalkeepers, overlooking the youngsters? – Not precisely. And we also had 15 goalkeepers in the system. It wasn’t easy either. But competition is the engine of progress. Therefore, there were no other thoughts. This, on the contrary, encourages you to work more. You understand that you were recently there, and now you are here, and they want to eat you, and the race has begun. You can’t give up even for a second.
“Now the boys don’t have any world championships. It’s okay, we managed to capture something.”
— Have you thought about missing the Youth World Cup? — Yes, we talk a lot with the kids and the coaches. They thought: “Now if it were the MFM, we would take revenge on Canada for the Junior World Cup, we would take revenge.” We really had a good lineup, a decent team. Many guys have already gone to play in the United States, many here occupy leading positions in KHL teams. We would have a decent lineup.
Sergei Ivanov at the 2021 World Junior Championships
Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
—Would you like to play against Connor Bedard? – Yes, I already played it once. The most important thing is that this championship would be held in Siberia, Russia. And in front of its stands. I haven’t had any international tournaments yet in my career where I have my own fans. Everything is in Europe, in other countries. It would be great. But Connor Bedard didn’t come, he was afraid (laughs).
— Do you follow his game? — Yes, like this: you see NHL reviews and they give you points. It’s not interesting (laughs).
—Who is the best goalkeeper in the NHL? – I’m looking out for everyone. And behind our guys, our school has a very good goalkeeper, and behind other goalkeepers. In any case, the game does not stop, some things change both in the goalkeepers’ play and in the preparation. It is interesting to observe the Swedes and Finns themselves. What moments they have, what nuances happen in the game. I take everything I need for myself.
— Some American journalists say that Ilya Samsonov’s business is not going well because of his helmet. It’s possible? – Yes maybe. I also painted my helmet at SKA: like that, we lost two games at once. In fact, it’s all in the head. Well, I painted it, it would immediately be a winning streak. It’s all in my head, it all comes out of work constantly. Everyone has ups and downs, ups and downs. And after the fall, in any case, there will be takeoff. It’s just a matter of time, endure it, process it. Everything will be fine.
—Did you dream when you were a child of playing in the Youth World Cup? – Honestly, I didn’t even think about it. When I was still playing in Tyumen, I didn’t think that he would get into the national team. Maybe I saw it, but I don’t remember it. For the New Year “Enjoy your bath”, Dad loves old movies.
—How did you react to the elimination of the Russian team? – Of course, it’s a little disappointing that we couldn’t play. But the main thing is that it be resolved as soon as possible in the future. Another generation is already growing. Well, at least we went to the World Youth Championships, our year made it to the Youth Olympic Games. We are lucky in this sense. Now the boys are left without world championships, without anything. Okay, we managed to capture something. Now the main thing is to open it. The rest of the boys are also preparing. They want to play and show themselves. Play for your country at this level. God willing everything is resolved.
“The main thing is that I was even selected in the NHL draft. But the number doesn’t matter, it’s just your prestige.”
— You have a contract in the KHL for another year and a half. But still, have you thought about the NHL? — I keep going from game to game. Honestly, yes, there are some moments when you think about the future. But there is no such thing as thinking, wanting to go there. From game to game, every day, we need to get to the playoffs and help the team more. Develop yourself every day. I didn’t even really think about it.
—Has Columbus’ general manager not contacted you? – No. I haven’t contacted you yet. So we communicate: sometimes they write about their physical condition, if they have any injuries.
– How is your English? The situation with Voronkov surprised many. – Of course, it is not easy, another language, another mentality, other people in general. I thought about this too. With English more or less, but we are in Russia and when you arrive you won’t be able to say anything, you will be left in a stupor. When we were at the World Junior Championships in Texas, he seemed to know what to say, but as I approached, a stupor, a barrier, began. But still, if all goes well, it will be achieved with practice. There will be no problems with this.
— Is the low selection in the draft due to the lack of performances in the MFM? – Maybe. Honestly, I didn’t even think about it. Well, the main thing is that you chose. And then I looked: the fourth round, the fifth has already started… In general, they will even choose. They chose it, great.
—Doesn’t the choice affect the goalkeeper? – The first round is just your prestige. How many guys were chosen as distant numbers, including Kaprizov? They go out and play in the NHL, the leaders. This doesn’t affect everything.
— Do you communicate with Yaroslav Askarov? “We played together, I caught him before he left.” But we don’t keep in touch. If necessary, we will talk.
— Has the level of goalkeepers in Russia dropped? – I do not think so. There are fewer foreign players, there are more of our guys, this is great for us, because of our experience, our practice.
—How serious is the problem with the goalkeepers’ equipment now? — There are some minor difficulties. Before it was even easier in this regard. There were some contracts with companies. Now it’s not like that anymore, we didn’t see it. It’s a little sad. But, as you can see, I’m in shape. Something remains.
—How much do new clubs cost? – Don’t know. For a long time. The shields last, for example, two to three months. The shape is approximately the same.