International Ice Hockey Federation

Tikhonov targets new triumphs

Tikhonov targets new triumphs

Last year's leading scorer is back for more

Published 30.04.2015 15:08 GMT+2 | Author Andy Potts
Tikhonov targets new triumphs
Viktor Tikhonov in the gold medal game against Finland at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images
Viktor Tikhonov was on top of the world in Minsk - but he struggled for form with SKA last season and is hoping to bounce back with Russia.

A year ago Viktor Tikhonov was the toast of Russia as his goals fired the team to gold in Minsk. His 16 points (8+8) topped the scoring charts as Russia produced a flawless campaign.

Since then, though, the forward, who will celebrate his 27th birthday during the current World Championship campaign, has struggled for form. While his club, SKA St. Petersburg, romped to its first ever Gagarin Cup win, Tikhonov himself played a peripheral role in the post-season as he struggled for fitness.

In total he managed just two points in 15 play-off games, but that did not keep him out of Russia’s plans. GM Andrei Safranov pointed out that the national camp has a long memory and wouldn’t quickly forget what the player achieved in Minsk - and a call-up for 2015 soon followed.

But Tikhonov himself acknowledged that it wasn’t until he got back into his country’s uniform that he was able to start showing his best hockey again.

“In my last warm-up game [a 4-5 loss at home to Sweden] I started to rediscover my game and chances were coming my way again. I don’t know why it happened but it gives me confidence and I hope I can play like that at the World Championships,” Tikhonov said.

Despite topping the scoring charts in Belarus a year ago, Tikhonov was modest about his contribution to that tournament. “A lot of those points were empty-net goals and stuff like that. You couldn’t really say they were my personal plays,” he said. “But overall we did great – we won the gold and you can’t ask for more than that. Now we have to start again – it’s a new year, a new story and we have to play every team like it’s going to be our last game.”

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Russia’s title defence begins Friday against Norway – and Tikhonov will immediately come up against one of his SKA team-mates, Patrick Thoresen.

“He’s already warned us he will be hunting for us in that game,” smiled Tikhonov. “When we were celebrating the [Gagarin Cup] he told us he would be coming for us all on May 1. He’s committed to winning games, and we will have to make sure we are even more committed than him.”

Russian coach Harijs Vitolins called upon the team to start on the front foot against Norway and make sure there is no upset on the opening day. “It’s always hard to start off against a team that’s at a lower level than yours,” he said. “It’s always tough to get a rhythm going in the first game. We have to take it seriously, but there’s nothing spectacular about Norway. It all depends on how we play.”

Russia will be without Yevgeni Malkin, Nikolai Kulyomin and Vladimir Tarasenko, all of whom have yet to arrive in Ostrava. The possibility of Pavel Datsyuk joining the team after the Red Wings’ play-off defeat Wednesday is also yet to be resolved.


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