Meet Konstantin Barulin – KHL’s best keeper

RT caught up with Russia’s Goalie of the Year, Konstantin Barulin, to recap the brightest moments of the most successful season in the 27-year-old’s career.

­“I have finally become the number one goalie for the national team – it’s a great feeling,” Barulin said. “I had a few very good games at the World Championships against Slovakia and Canada, but in the end we failed to win medals. That is the most disappointing moment for me this year.”

But the most memorable moments of the year were still connected with his club, Atlant Moscow region.   

“And what I’ll never forget is our KHL triumph when we won the Western Conference title,”
he said. “It was a very emotional moment for the team, and for me, personally. We had a lot of ups and downs, we lost, we won, but finally made it to the finals.”  

Despite showing great hockey, Atlant failed to take the Gagarin Cup, letting the trophy slip into the hands of Salavat Yulaev players.

“The play-offs clash against SKA was difficult for us,”
the keeper explained. “It definitely hardened us ahead of the conference finals against Lokomotiv. We were fit, focused and beat them in every aspect of the game, although it took a lot out of us.  And when we made it to the Gagarin Cup decider, we were emotionally drained – that’s probably why we lacked drive in the series with Salavat.”

Barulin said he enjoys everything in hockey except the moments when, as goalie, he can’t see the puck.

“It feels like I lose control, and it’s hard to make the right moves then,” he said. “As for playing one man down, I wouldn’t call it a real challenge. That’s what you prepare for through training and your experience.”

A lot was expected from Olympic champion coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, who took reins at Atlant before the start of the season, but who was recently sacked for unsatisfactory results.  

“I think Gustafsson was too gentle-hearted a coach to control our team,”
Barulin admitted. “There are a lot of young players in Atlant, who sometimes you need to be strict with. I don’t mean an iron fist, but he should have definitely been more in charge of what they did on the ice, schooling them over and over again.“

According to the keeper, last year’s boss, Milos Riha, suited the team a lot better.    

“As for Milos Riha, he was simply a different story,” Barulin said. “He was a man who could inspire the entire team with a single word. But both coaches have their strong and weak points, their own style.”


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