Circus Ovi has begun

Alexander Ovechkin practises with Afinogenov, Gorovikov

07-05-11
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Ondrej Nepela Arena Bratislava  Slovakia
Alexander Ovechkin answers questions to journalists following his first practice with the Russian national team. Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images

BRATISLAVA – One of the world’s finest players has arrived in Bratislava.

Alexander Ovechkin landed in Vienna on Saturday morning after getting green light from the Washington Capitals on Friday.

At noon the 25-year-old, two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner entered the ice for his first practice with the Russian national team at Bratislava’s Orange Arena before facing a huge crowd of journalists in the mixed zone.

“It was a shock,” Ovechkin said about the Capitals’ loss in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “I think we didn’t deserve being defeated in four games. Several players played with injuries, not only me. But we showed character and wouldn’t surrender,” the Capitals star added, “but now I feel fine again and I am ready to go.”

His full focus is now on representing his nation and winning the 2011 IIHF World Championship with Russia.

“I want to win gold,” said Ovechkin making clear why he came here. “I’m here to help the team beat all opponents.”

It didn’t work out that well last year when he joined the team during the 2010 IIHF World Championship in Germany as the Russians ended up losing the gold medal game to the Czech Republic, tomorrow’s opponent in the Qualification Round.

In the six World Championships Ovechkin has played so far, he has won one gold (2008), one silver (2010) and two bronze medals (2005, 2007).

The Moscow native skated in one line with Maxim Afinogenov and Konstantin Gorovikov, and the defensive pair of Dmitri Kalinin and Konstantin Korneyev.

“They are skilled and experienced partners,” he said about his new line mates. “Now the main task is to get acclimatized and cope with the time change. I won’t allow myself to go to bed, but will rather go for a walk around the city. We will have a difficult game against the Czechs tomorrow.”

“Ovi” entered the ice with lot of motivation. He even broke Konstantin Barulin’s mask when firing shots at the goalkeeper.

The Russian national team registered Ovechkin this morning and the Russians also announced they will add goalkeeper Vasili Koshechkin from KHL club Severstal Cherepovets to their roster prior to their next game.

Koshechkin is supposed to form the goalie tandem together with Barulin following Yevgeni Nabokov’s groin injury.

UPDATE: Koshechkin was officially registered on Saturday evening.

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