Oleg Bratash: "The second match against South Korea was better"
Russian Olympic team head coach Oleg Bratash:
- After the first game, we analysed how the opponents play. The guys knew what to do, and both teams ended up peforming better than yesterday.
- Nevertheless, it was a tough match. At one point, Russia were even trailing.
- Not everything went our way. We changed how we begin our attacks, and in the second period, the players started playing better. The South Koreans forwards played with the puck at neutral ice more, while our players began to make space and made themselves available to teammates.
- The players seemed to take this match more seriously.
- Yes, psychologically they were better prepared. We had warned them to be 100% ready before the first game, but they had it in their minds that the opponents were weak. South Korea proved that they are a strong team.
- When will the team gather again?
- On the 27th of March. After that, we will travel to Latvia for two friendly matches in Riga. Oleg Znarok, the senior national team head coach, will give us names of players who we should look at. In these South Korean games, we have been able to see how a large group of players can compete at this level.
- Yesterday, Sergei Gimaev died.
- Sergei Gimaev has been an important figure for me. When I started playing for CSKA Moscow, he was just finishing his career. I got changed in his dressing room place. We worked on television together and spoke a lot. I was really upset when I heard the news, I couldn't fall asleep until the early hours. I heard about the tragedy during the Lokomotiv versus CSKA match broadcast.
Russian Olympic national team forward Konstantin Okulov:
- We played at a calmer tempo today and tried to perform with a lot more intelligence. The defensemen moved the play out from the back line quicker and none of us made terrible mistakes.
- Did your line play better?
- I had to get used to playing with Stepan Sannikov and Sergei Shumakov, we hadn't really played together before. It's good that we managed to score goals. When playing in the national team, you have to follow the game plan given by the coaches. Everything was better in the second match.
- Was it difficult preparing to play one of ice hockey's weaker teams?
- In the opening shift, it became clear that they weren't going to give up. They have a fast team and it's clear how fast they are learning. Their North American players help them.
- Despite your KHL season being over, are you happy about being in the national team?
- Every player dreams of playing for the national team. It's a shame that Sibir didn't make the KHL Gagarin Cup playoffs, but I was really happy to play for Russia.
Russian Ice Hockey Federation