Coming off a remarkable win against Team Canada in the gold medal game at the World Juniors, Team Russia stunned the hockey world after erasing a 3-0 deficit in the third period to win 5-3. While the team needed it’s offensive spark to complete the turnaround it was netminder Igor Bobkov who was called into action to backstop his team to eventual victory. I had a chance to talk with Bobkov since his return back to the OHL’s London Knights about the game, life after, and playing in Canada. Below is the interview, enjoy.
How did you feel when you found out you were yet again selected to represent Russia at the national level?
I was glad of course, it was important to me to be selected to the junior national team in my last year of eligibility. Since things weren’t going too well for me in London, I needed to prove to myself that my game was still strong.
What was different about this year’s team opposed to the team last year who weren’t so good?
I think the team this year was more organized with tactics, it was more tight knit, and had better character.
What was your initial reaction when you replaced Dmitri Shikin in the gold medal game against the team you were pulled against in the first game of the tournament?
For me, it was the opportunity to prove that the first game was a ridiculous fluke, something of that nature.
What was the mood of the team at the start of the 3rd period down 3-0?
After the second period, coach (Valeri Bragin) said the right things and Vlad Tarasenko showed why he was the captain. Both said that this wasn’t only the last period of the game but also of the tournament, either we’re on top, above everyone else or we’re nowhere. We came out for the third period with the objective of not giving Canada any chances.
Was it true that Bragin threw chairs in the locker-room during the intermission to send a message to the team?
No, he did however break the white board in the first period.
Do you feel that your team are national heroes?
And how! There were constant interviews, even some of the players were invited to do television appearances on a major Russian channel.
How did you celebrate your victory?
How else? Champagne of course. Then I went back to the hotel to rest and flew out to London the next morning as the boys flew back to Russia.
Did your Canadian teammates from the Knights congratulate you?
Yes, from the players to the coaches to the staff, everyone was very supportive. Some of the players went to the bar to root for Russia and almost got into fights.
Did the Anaheim Ducks call to congratulate you?
No, no one from the organization called.
When do you feel you will be NHL ready?
Once there is a place for me in the crease, I still have some work to do.
What is the difference in style of play in Canada compared to Russia?
More shots, more shots into the zone, and the speed.
What do you miss the most about Russia?
I miss my family, my girlfriend and food. I really miss Russian cuisine.