“Now we are closer to CSKA in terms of playing style”

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Avangard Omsk on April 28, on its ice in Balashikha, defeated CSKA (1: 0) in the sixth match of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) playoff final and won the decisive series against the army (4: 2). Thus, the hawks won the Gagarin Cup for the first time in history. In many ways, this became possible thanks to a serious increase made a year ago.

One of the newcomers who led the club to this triumph was defender Alexei Bereglazov. A native of Magnitogorsk, he spent most of his life in his hometown and played for the local Metallurg, whose graduate he is and for whom he made his debut in the KHL in 2013, spending the next seven years with it, not counting a six-month trip to the NHL in 2017, when 27 -year-old ice hockey player signed with the New York Rangers. He never played for this team, going out on the ice as part of a farm club.

In the 2013/2014 season, debut for Bereglazov, in the KHL, Magnitka took the Gagarin Cup, but Alexey, although he is listed as its owner, did not play a single match in the playoffs. But he was one of the leaders of the Ural team, when he reached the final twice in a row (2016, 2017), in the first case having won the main league trophy.

After the second such triumph, Bereglazov spoke to Izvestia in the Avangard dressing room, comparing his two victories in the tournament, and telling how he was surprised by Omsk head coach Bob Hartley.

– What is your motivation in the KHL now after your third victory in the Gagarin Cup?

– Second. After all, I didn’t play in the playoffs in 2014. But in any case, I want to win this trophy more than once.

– Are you going to chase Danis Zaripov with his five Gagarin Cups?

– It’s very hard to chase Zaripov (smiles). But God forbid to try.

– Remember the most difficult moment for Avangard in this playoff?

– Crazy was the playoffs, very emotional, a lot of difficult moments. The sweeter the victory. There were many difficulties. Seven games with Kazan, a difficult series with Avtomobilist. With “Magnitogorsk” had to break after 1: 7 in the fourth match, with CSKA in the final after two unsuccessful games snatched the victory at home in the fourth meeting. There were many such moments.

– How does this victory differ from your triumph with Metallurg in 2016?

– I do not know. From the outside, you probably know better than the difference between these two teams. Hockey is changing in general. Nowadays there is a lot of simple play in their own and middle zone. I think it’s all about solidarity and everyone’s desire to put more on the line than the opponent.

– Except for the six-month North American stage in your career, your last year was the first outside your native Magnitogorsk. Was it more difficult in everyday life?

– No, everything is fine. The team was well received, the climate is good. Everything turned out very well. It wasn’t hard.

– Has the coronavirus made this season much more difficult for you?

– It was hard for everyone. We were not alone in adjusting to the situation. But at the beginning of August I had already been ill. On the 30th of July, I went to bed with covid.

– How does Bob Hartley differ from your previous coaches?

– The style of play is a little different, aggressive. Magnitka did not play like that in those years when I played for it.

– Even with Mike Keenan?

– All the same, we had a slightly different hockey. Now we are closer to CSKA in terms of playing style. We try to punch, keep aggressive.