“It is really very pleasant to be called the championship’s best goalkeeper. But I think the title is due to the previous games, not the final”, such is the critical opinion of Russian goalkeeper Maxim Sokolov. Like any professional, he treats his work critically. On completion of the Russia – Slovakia hockey match that ended with the 3 to 4 score, Maxim Sokolov looked the most miserable player of the whole of Russia’s team during the decoration ceremony. The Russian goalkeeper thinks he is guilty of the last missed puck 1 minute 40 seconds before the main time of the match elapsed. The missed puck graded at once all efforts of the Russian team designed to save the final match in the third period.
Indeed, when Sushinski made the score even six minutes before end of the main time, the Russian team hoped the luck would come. During the last twenty minutes of the match the Russian team completely blocked the rivals in their own zone to make any response attacks impossible. Advantage of the Russian team was great.
The Slovak president who came to the match to support the national team, was very complacent in his comments to journalists before the third time. And probably he even started regretting he had done.
The 58th minute of the match became fatal for the Russian team. The full-back made a mistake, a quick counterattack of the Slovaks followed immediately. Maxim Sokolov did not retort Bondra’s throw.
“Yes, I should not miss the throw. 90% of the Russian super league would send a long pass. And then it would be possible for me to repulse the throw. But I had not a chance”, such was resume of Maxim Sokolov in an interview to SPORT-Express.
Nevertheless, the Russian goalkeeper became member of a symbolic combined team of the championship that was announced on the match completion. The honor was deserved indeed. It was due to Sokolov’s efforts that Russia’s team entered the final after successful matches with the Czech and Finnish teams. Last time Russian goalkeeper was included in a symbolic team at the world championship was in 1983, it was Vladislav Tretyak.
Together with Maxim Sokolov the following people entered the symbolic team: fullbacks Thomas Rodin (Sweden) and Richard Lintner (Slovakia); forwards Peter Bondra and Miroslav Satan (Slovakia) and Niklas Hagman (Finland).
The very fact that half of the symbolic combined team is made of Slovaks demonstrates, coach Jan Filc succeeded with making the strongest team over the whole history of the Slovak hockey. Filc said at a press-conference after the match: “Today is a great day in the history of Slovakia’s hockey. I am happy that we have reached the result. Today we gained a victory over a really worthy rival. I always respected Russia’s hockey school and considered it to be a model for development of Slovakia’s hockey. I think we succeeded with it. Two years ago in St.Petersburg the Slovak team won silver for the first time in the history. We were happy then. If we lost today’s game, this would be a tragedy for the country.”
In his turn coach of the Russian team Boris Mikhailov said, Russian players deserved congratulations as well. “We are the second in the world championship. To my mind it is a success too. I say once again, Russian players performed wonderfully, I can not make any claims on their game. We experienced a bad luck, however. But for the two pucks missed in the first period, the situation would be different.” The coach added: “My desire to win the championship was too great.”
Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru
Photo by NTVRu.com
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/13/40986.html
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969