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© RIA Novosti. Alexey Malgavko

Dinamo wins Gagarin Cup

by at 26/04/2012 11:58

Dinamo Moscow lifted the Gagarin Cup in Omsk in game seven after coming back from 3-1 down.

Goaltender Alexander Yeryomenko, named play-off MVP, dedicated the win to Lokomotiv players who perished in the plane crash in Yaroslavl in September.

The fate of Gagarin Cup was decided by a single goal from Jakub Klepis in the middle of the third period of game seven.

The Czech forward took advantage of Avangard’s sleeping defence and was the first on the rebound from his first shot blocked by Karri Ramo.

Both teams made few defensive mistakes in the game played in an electric atmosphere in front of a sell-out crowd in the Omsk Arena.

“I would like to dedicate this victory to the guys who died, to team Lokomotiv. I think all my teammates would agree with me. The whole season was difficult; it is difficult to fight this. We recovered from this bit by bit, played… We will always remember the guys,” Yeryomenko said.


Dinamo battles back

Dinamo Moscow showed character when they battled back from losing 3-1 to clinch the fifth title in their history, and become the first team from the Western Conference to win a Gagarin Cup final.

Avangard was one step away from victory when they were leading the final series 3-1 after winning the first game 2-1 and both games in Moscow, 1-0 and 2-1.

The Omsk side then lost 2-3 in Omsk and 2-5 in Moscow, giving Dinamo the psychological advantage going into the title decider.

 I almost do not have emotions now, just some numbness and tiredness, there is no strength to rejoice,” said Dinamo coach Oleg Znarok. “I would like to thank the players for showing character, for believing until the end and winning deservedly. The series was very difficult and stressful. But you can say that about all of the play-offs.”

“Even when we were losing in the final 1-3, I did not doubt the guys and was sure that we can turn it around. This is why I said then that it was only the beginning. You see, I was right.”

“Lifting the cup is the easiest thing, getting to it was difficult, to go through all the play-off rounds,” said Dinamo forward Mikhail Anisin. “We showed character. Everyone did great. Congratulations to everyone with the win.”


Drug ban

It seems that a doping ban for Omsk defender Anton Belov after game four affected his teammates, as they lost the last three games.

“We must have lacked experience, skills, maybe desire and organization,” said Avangard forward Anton Kuryanov. “Not just on the ice, but outside the changing room too. Every little thing has an effect. There were some absurd things that should not happen in the final.”

Avangard defenseman Martin Skoula said the team only had itself to blame for the loss.

“Losing in the Cup is only our mistake. We had every opportunity, all the circumstances were on our side, but we could not use them. We lost the series ourselves, we had three games to finish this series, but we did not do it. It does not mean that Dinamo was a lot stronger, it means that we forced ourselves into a corner.”

Dinamo Moscow became the first team from Western Conference to lift the Gagarin Cup, the competition started in 2008/09. Prior to Dinamo, Russian hockey’s main trophy went to Kazan and Ufa.


Yeryomenko MPV

With a clean sheet in game seven, Dinamo goaltender Alexander Yeryomenko was voted Gagarin Cup play-off MVP. Yeryomenko, twice world champion, has won the title with Dinamo (2005), Ak Bars Kazan (2006, 2008) and Salavat Yulayev Ufa (2011).

“It is important to win for every player,” Yeryomenko told Sports.ru. “I thank fate that it happened, that I came to Dinamo and won. In Salavat Yulayev I was third choice. But that year I did not touch the cup. I must have known that it will happen.”

Read other articles of the print issue "The Moscow News #31"
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