Kuznetsov, who has been tearing it up this season with the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk, found his game when it mattered most in this year’s World Junior Championship. The Russian-born winger finished as the tournament’s second-leading scorer with four goals and eight assists, and led Russia to its first WJC gold medal since 2003.
In the quarterfinals against Finland, Kuznetsov single-handedly brought his team back from a 3-1 deficit registering a goal, an assist, and the overtime game-winner. The 18-year old then followed up that clutch performance with yet another one against the Canadians in the Gold Medal Game. In front of a boisterous pro-Canadian crowd at Buffalo’s HSBC Arena, Kuz assisted on three goals in the third period, including a no-look pass to Vladimir Tarasenko that yielded the game-tying goal.
Finally, Igor has also translated a January 8th story by sportbox.ru’s Alexander Baranov and Yekaterina Balaeva, which continues the discussion from above. It’s entitled, “Evgeny Kuznetsov: ‘Next Up is the Stanley Cup!’”
Question – You have won the World Championship. What are your goals now?
Evgeny Kuznetsov – Next, is to win the Stanley Cup. And as far as the national team, I don’t think I will make the team for the next two years.
Q – Why?
EK – I am too young, and I doubt anybody wants to risk of bringing an 18-year old kid to the National Team. But if I get the call, I will redouble my efforts.
Q – Talk about the incident at the airport in Buffalo, what actually happened there?
EK – Nothing at all happened. We calmly got on the plane, turned our headphones on, and went to sleep. And then, two men walked on board and said: “Get off the plane, or it won’t fly!” Just stupid… Yes, we did yell a bit at the airport: “Russia – Champion!” But it was just emotions. We had just won the World Championship. I think if it were Canadians or Americans, no one would have said anything. But what can you do? We picked up our stuff, went to the hotel, and went to sleep.
Q – Canadian journalists kept the story going for quite some time.
EK – Let them look at what color their medals are.
Q – What was the most memorable moment, aside from this fantastic victory?
EK – Probably, the eyes of the Canadian fans. When I looked into the stands after the final siren, I saw a real sorrow. People were crying. I was shocked. And one more thing: when we made it to the finals, I saw some guys that printed out my picture, and drew a beard and mustache on me, and added a few not so flattering words. After the game, I skated up to them and asked: “What’s the score?”