Dynamo Has Dynamic Relationship with its Fans
Thanks once again to my good friend Dmitry Chesnokov who has been so diligent at supplying us with good offseason hockey stories here in the Washington area this summer. Today’s piece is a translation of another Sovetsky Sport article written by Pavel Lysenkov, whom we met when we were in Moscow for the World Championships in May.
This story details a unique opportunity some Moscow Dynamo fans had to bond with their heroes. It gives a new and elevated meaning to the concept of “fan appreciation day.”
AMATEURS CHALLENGED DYNAMO [MOSCOW] PROFESSIONALS
by Pavel Lysenkov
A very unusual match took place on Saturday in Novogorsk [Dynamo’s training facility]. Dynamo Moscow took on … their own fans! The score was predictable – 17-2 in favor of Dynamo [professionals], but no one was upset. The players had a nice skating practice. And the fans had a unique chance to test Dynamo’s motto – “Force in motion”, and then take pictures with their idols.
Fans themselves came up with the idea of having this match. Dynamo President Mikhail Golovkov says, “They challenged us. We all met to discuss all organizational details. I called Vladimir Krikunov [Dynamo Moscow head coach] in St. Petersburg, where our team was participating in a preseason tournament, and the coach also threw his support behind this much needed and interesting event.”
What rules will you use for this game?
– No hard checking. Three periods 20 minutes each without stopping the clock. To even our chances, the fans will take three of our top goaltenders – Vitaliy Eremeev, Sergei Zvyagin and Vadim Zhelobnyuk. Dynamo will field their strongest team lead by Krikunov, and I will be behind the fans’ team bench, in case they need my help.
Do you know of any other team ever playing their own fans?
– I don’t … But I hope to make this game a tradition.
The fans’ team didn’t look so weak. First of all, the team was strengthened by such players as Sergei Zolotov and Vladimir Kramskoy, who both won gold medals with Dynamo in the early 90s. And secondly, about five Datsyuks [and Ovechkins] played for the fans. Not real, of course. But sweaters with the players’ [names] are very popular with fans. Dynamo players were stunned to see so many Datsyuks [and Ovechkins].
But [the fans’ team] was no match [for the professionals]. The first shot on goal, not including penalty shots that were given for every Dynamo foul, the fans managed to take only in the 25th minute. And Dynamo players did not want to look bad in this exhibition game against their fans by playing for a tie! They [the fans] would have a panic attack: if the team couldn’t beat us, what would happen in the upcoming season [against other professional teams]?
Dynamo were fully motivated for this game. [Dmitry] Afanasenkov, [Jamie] Lundmark and [Eric] Landry were having a lively discussion on how they should play. And the very experienced [Alexei] Chupin was teaching the young [Igor] Mirnov how to better draw a defenseman and open up for a pass. It was all serious. Young forward [Gennadi] Stolyarov, who almost scored his second when the score was 13-2, slammed the door in frustration.
“Who are you mad at, Gena?” Ivan Krivonosov [Dynamo’s second coach] jokingly picked on Stolyarov, “Be mad at yourself, if you cannot score against the amateurs. Look at these guys!” The team’s second coach pointed to Dynamo’s Chupin’s [first] line that scored seven goals (including two hat-tricks). “You should have scored 30 or so.”
“Thirty? No way!” [Mikhail] Golovkov interrupted with a smile when he overheard that conversation, “Although the payday is coming up soon, there will be bonuses as well. So let’s see how the players do.”
After figuring out that they can only score on penalty shots against Dynamo, the fans demanded the “sudden death” penalty shoot-out – five shots each [against Dynamo’s best goaltenders]. Coach Krikunov agreed. But when the fans asked for every player on their team to have a shot, he waved his hands in disapproval and said with a smile: “No way!” He didn’t want to “overload” his goaltenders who had plenty of work in this game. Zhelobnyuk, for example, despite running like a hamster on a wheel, conceded eight goals. But how many shots he did stop!
After the game all fans were so overwhelmed with emotions, that they forgot about the shoot-out and started taking pictures with Mirnov and Lundmark, Afanasenkov and Zvyagin. And even hours later after changing fans were excitingly sharing their experiences: “I touched the puck three times and even shot on goal once!”
Some might say it was nothing. But what a memory for the rest of their lives!
[Pictures by Pavel Lysenkov. NOTE: Dynamo professionals in white, fans in blue]