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After Buffalo 2011, Russia has not a single MFM gold. Have these 10 years been a complete failure?

High Angle View Of Various Sport Equipments On Green Grass

The era of Bragin.

MFM-2023 starts today. Omsk and Novosibirsk were supposed to host it, but Halifax and Moncton will host it – you know why it happened (by the way, the arena in Novosibirsk is still not fully ready for hockey to be played on it).

Russia will not be in Halifax or Moncton – you also know why. Thus, we are definitely left without the gold of the youth world championship. And Buffalo 2011 is one more year away from us. With each MFM, the last victory of Russia goes deeper into history. Many people still remember this tournament as if it was last year: Vatanen’s shoelaces, “one of our Chelyabinsk is bigger than all of their Finland”, 0:3 by the third period of the final, “they seem to be. scored for themselves”, “the puck leaves the zone, and if we roll Nikita? And if we put Nikita’s body, and if we score Nikita-ah-ah-ah-ah!

And the classic – “Well, probably, because we are fartozopy”.

Maybe that’s why we are still without gold? Buffalo 2011 was magical, and to surpass it, it is not enough just to win medals – you need to do something equally epic. However, at the moment this is all rhetoric – we meet 2023 in a gray zone, from which the future is not visible at all. When will Russia next go to the MFM? Ask for something ahead of time.

But we still have 10 tournaments that were after Buffalo. 10 tournaments, 10 teams, 10 results – and not a single gold among them. By inertia, I would write “10 coaches”, but in fact there were three coaches, but in fact – one; in the 2010s, the youth team was also coached by Varnakov and Larionov, but these years will definitely remain in the history of our hockey as the era of Bragin.


10 tournaments without gold – is it a complete failure? Or was there something good? What was this era? What were the different national teams of Russia? Has our hockey progressed? What generations came to big hockey after the generation of “fartozopy”?

And I would like to ask the era such a question. We all know – and Bragin himself said – that victory cannot be won by order. This process cannot be controlled 100%, especially at the MFM – so the color of the medals should not be the only criterion in evaluating an individual tournament and an entire era. Formally, Russia after Buffalo did not have happiness at the MFM – but this is not true. Happiness was and it was a lot. In the end, the 2010s became the time when attention to the youth team and its New Year’s tournament grew, took shape, and matured. This is officially one of the key sports tournaments of the year and certainly the most magical.

The process of the country’s enthusiasm for the youth team was driven by several factors, but including the game of the youth team itself, the absolute magic that it generated. How much of this magic has dripped in 10 years?

In a few paragraphs below, I will take you through the waves of the memory of the MFM. Subscribe  to my telegram  – there is even more love for hockey.

MFM-2012. Fartozhopye, part 2. Kuznetsov with Kucherov and Vasilevsky

Persons : Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nail Yakupov, Alexander Khokhlachev, Nikita Gusev, Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Igor Ozhiganov, Andrey Vasilevsky, Andrey Makarov.

Rivals : Mika Zibanejad, John Klingberg, Rickard Rackell, Filip Forsberg, Petr Mrazek, Tomas Hurtle, Dmitry Yashkin, Dougie Hamilton, Brendan Gallagher, Mark Scheifli, Jonathan Huberdeau, Mark Stone.

Strokes :

•‎ Evgeny Kuznetsov was the captain and went out in the center, although he played on the edge in the club; became the top scorer of the tournament with two hat-tricks against Latvia and Canada; •‎ Nail Yakupov was considered one of the biggest talents, but scored nothing and provided 9 assists; •‎ Kucherov and Gusev played in the same unit with the masked Grigorenko, and this unit was considered an army one – all three were graduates of the “Red Army”; •‎ In one of the matches, Gusev gave such passes to Kuznetsov that Canadian journalists called him Picasso. “I don’t know how it is translated,” Nikita replied; •‎ In the semi-finals, Vasilevsky was changed to Makarov after the fifth missed goal, and Makarov played the entire final; •‎ In the final, Russia lost on throws 17-58.

How it was : You can retell the details for a long time, but, as happens in IIHF tournaments, the whole impression was made by one match – the semi-final with Canada. If it had been something else – more ordinary, less nervous, the circumstances would not have been so exclusive (to lead Canada in Calgary with a score of 6:1 and get 6:5 in the end) – then the whole tournament would not have remained in history so touching.

Yes, it turns out that only one outstanding match can distinguish a magical MFM from an ordinary one.

Now I understand: Bragin used a scattering of stars rather boringly, in important matches Russia played cautiously (somewhere on the verge of cowardice) in terms of tactics. We barely gored the Czechs in the quarter, somehow, without moments, survived in the final against Sweden, we gave the same Swedes a match in the group, thus jumping into an additional round.

But somewhere inside, between the Czech Republic and Sweden, a diamond was hidden, a semi-final, in which Bragin’s caution was multiplied by the talent of the performers (ranging from Kuznetsov to Kucherov) – and it looked not like caution, but like a blade sharpened for an opponent. She looked excellent and even stylish – Kuzya scored with every throw, Khokhlachev and Yakupov easily flew into counterattacks, which the Canadians could not keep up with.

At the end of the game, Bragin’s counterattack structure fell apart, but this only made the impressions more acute – it seems, not only among the spectators, but also among the players. There were several epic matches at the MFM later on, but this semi-final is probably the most powerful of them.

The level of magic : with a victory it would be quite beautiful – it was easy to imagine how Kuzya took two MFMs in a row, but even without it the team gave a spectacle in bulk. Such a swing from 14:0 with Latvia to 17 shots in the final – and a semi-final that contained all this at once.

MFM-2013. Ufa. Mikhail Varnakov at the helm. Nichushkin passages

Persons : Nail Yakupov, Nikita Kucherov, Nikita Nesterov, Albert Yarullin, Mikhail Grigorenko, Alexander Khokhlachev, Vladimir Tkachev-1993, Maxim Shalunov, Andrey Vasilevsky, Valery Nichushkin.

Rivals : Seth Jones, Johnny Gaudreau, Jacob Truba, John Gibson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Scheifli, Jonathan Drouin, Jonathan Huberdeau, Morgan Reilly, Nathan McKinnon, Philip Forsberg, William Karlsson, Elias Lindholm.

Strokes :

•‎ Valery Bragin left to make a club career – in CSKA; •‎ Kucherov, as they said, got a place in the squad at the last moment – Varnakov did not want to take him; •‎ In the last match of the group stage against Canada, Valery Nichushkin got 5+20 and missed the quarterfinals. In the game with the Canadians for third place, he also scored the winning goal; •‎ Commenting on the bronze match, Sergey Nailich Gimaev, after one of Kucherov’s shots , said that, in his opinion, he would be given a chance in Tampa; •‎ Russia and Canada met again in the playoffs and again played 6:5 (in the game for third place); •‎ In the group, they beat the future champions – the US team (2:1).

How it was : and again – the brightest talents in a plain, albeit water-repellent package. Varnakov turned out to be even more conservative than Bragin – for example, he doubted the inclusion of Kucherov in the application and in the creation the team looked like it had rolled down the ladder in full force. I will always remember the match with Germany – we easily won 7-0, but all the goals came from attacks on the move. It was as if we did not want to create from a positional attack, even against the middle peasants.

But the match with the Canadians turned out to be a thing in itself and again made an impression on the tournament. 6:5 in the game with Canada, and even with such a goal in overtime – and we didn’t care about exits from the zone and positional attacks.

After Nichushkin’s goal, the national team players drove past the Canadian bench, showing all sorts of fingers there. Holiday!

Level of magic : yep, a mediocre tournament that did showcase some of the talent of the players – and then it felt like the whipped cream of a victory over Canada with a signature goal from one of our (it seemed) top talents. And it doesn’t seem to be all that bad.

MFM-2014. Another bronze Varnakov. Even less interesting

Persons : Anton Slepyshev, Pavel Buchnevich, Mikhail Grigorenko, Andrey Mironov, Nikita Zadorov, Andrey Vasilevsky.

Rivals : Teivo Teravainen, Arturri Lehkonen, Philip Forsberg, Elias Lindholm, Andre Burakowski, Jack Eichel, Jacob Slavin, Aaron Ekblad, Bo Horvath, Sam Reinhart, Jonathan Drouin, Anthony Manta.

Strokes :

•‎ Again played for bronze with Canada – and again won by one puck (2:1); •‎ The turning point in the quarter-finals with the US came in the middle of the second period, when the Americans grabbed three fouls in a row and were three of them twice. Steven Santini sent the puck out of bounds with a direct shot from his zone;

•‎ For two players of the Russian national team, this was the third youth world championship – for Misha Grigorenko and Andrey Vasilevsky.

How it was : Mikhail Varnakov, part two. Volodya Tkachev-1995, who scored like this at the Super Series , was not taken. The team is working hard on the distance, and the coach seems to trust only the top five – as I remember now, Slepyshev, Grigorenko, Buchnevich, Mironov and Zadorov played there.

In this style, they outperformed the Americans in quarters – they were lucky with Santini’s stupid throw – and in the game for bronze they gored the same dim Canada.

The level of magic: the grayest MFM in my memory and the most forgettable team – although it had stars, but that was the approach to organizing the game back then. I only remember Grigorenko’s goal against the Norwegians, and that’s it.

MFM-2015. Bragin is back. Comeback again (almost)

Persons : Nikolai Goldobin, Sergei Tolchinsky, Vladislav Gavrikov, Ivan Barbashev, Pavel Buchnevich, Maxim Mamin, Anatoly Golyshev, Vladislav Kamenev, Ilya Sorokin, Igor Shesterkin.

Rivals : William Nylander, Victor Olofson, Nikolai Ehlers, Oliver Bjorkstrand, David Pastrnak, Dominik Kubalik, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Dylan Larkin, Zach Verensky, Anthony Deangelo, Connor McDavid, Brayden Point, Anthony Duclair, Max Domi, Shea Theodore.

Strokes :

•‎ Bragin failed to launch his career at the club – he returned to the youth team; •‎ Vladimir Tkachev-1995 was not taken to the tournament, who, it seemed, should have been included in the squad due to his talent; •‎ In the group, Russia won only one victory in regular time – 7:0 over Switzerland; •‎ Valery Nichushkin, who had already played at the Olympics in Sochi and was suitable for the 2015 MFM, was in Dallas and could not come to the national team; •‎ In the second period of the final, Russia lost 1:5, but quickly returned to the game and made it 4:5 – so Bragin finally became Kambekovich.

How it was : the most powerful strained in the very first match – all of a sudden, with the Danes, who were dragged by Ehlers and Bjorkstrand. Noticeable turbulence throughout the group stage, with one win in regulation time. And suddenly – a fabulous playoffs. Just some fairy tale. Americans – 3:2. The Swedes, with young Willy Nylander – 4:1. And here is the finale.

In it – a quickly missed puck, and then 1:3, and then 1:5, and the realization that for Bragin this is not a crisis, but an opportunity. Call!

Vanya Barbashev, Pasha Buchnevich, Kolya Goldobin and Seryoga Tolchinsky quickly return us to the game – and here we are, in general, playing on equal terms with this powerful McDavid Canada in Toronto.

And after all, everything was the same – the basic attitude to caution, some depressing simplicity in the plans. And in principle, simplicity has not gone anywhere, and we would have burned out in this final, but the guys went.

And again, the feeling that all this tactics / strategy is for weaklings, and more importantly, that we are Russians and the Russian spirit is with us. The spirit may not be a victory, but a comeback.

As a result, the team lost the final, but it is simply impossible to consider this a defeat.

Level of magic : by the standards of Bragin – absolute magic. It is not very clear whether we had a game. It’s not very clear how we wanted to win – but the team was there, there were outward manifestations of character, and we kind of scared the Canadians. They have a home! And we don’t really need anything else.

MFM-2016. Bragin is in the final again. One and a half comeback

Persons : Egor Korshkov, Vladislav Kamenev, Evgeny Svechnikov, Kirill Kaprizov, Ivan Provorov, Alexander Georgiev, Andrey Kuzmenko, Andrey Svetlakov, Pavel Kraskovsky.

Rivals : Pavel Zaha, Sebastian Aho, Patrick Laine, Kasperi Kapanen, Mikko Rantanen, Matthew Tkachak, Zach Verensky, Auston Matthews, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Debrinkat.

Strokes :

•‎ The first of two tournaments of Kirill Kaprizov – he played on the link with the army team Kuzmenko and Svetlakov; •‎ Evgeniy Svechnikov didn’t score a single point or a single utility score in the tournament; •‎ In the quarterfinals, Russia played with Denmark and lost 2:3 5 minutes before the end of regular time. The score was equalized 44 seconds before the siren;

•‎ In the final, 2:09 before the siren, the Finns took the lead in the score – 3:2. Svetlakov bounced back 6 seconds before the siren

How it was : one of the first matches of the group tournament we had with the hosts, the Finns – and we won 6:4, confidently and beautifully. Further, in this sense, it was different – and mostly harsh, but even with the victory over Finland, the team created the impression that it was in control of even difficult situations – and showed that it was ready to get out of them.

I remember the last minutes of the game against the Danes in the quarterfinals very well – it was a lot of stress, but the guys pressed hard and got overtime without any trembling in their hands. After that, the doublet in the semi-finals and the same calm at the end of regular time in the last game looked for granted. We are not the brightest of all, but we are confident in ourselves – and this is almost the strongest of all in the tournament.

Another silver, which, without any reservations, feels like gold – our set of emotions is definitely champion.

Sorcery Level : Another absolute, second in a row. Bragin’s national teams will never again win back and save themselves, but only this will be said about them. And how to argue? Here are two examples in a row, two comeback tournaments in a row.

There is not very much rational in this, but after the finale, no rationality could remain in anyone. During these one and a half weeks, the youth team again squeezed out of us all possible emotions, gave us a ride on a swing – and it was super, from start to finish. It doesn’t matter what the basic style is.

MFM-2017. Kirill Kaprizov knocks out bronze. Casus on shootouts

Persons : Kirill Kaprizov, Denis Guryanov, Mikhail Vorobyov, Pavel Karnaukhov, Mikhail Sergachev, Yakov Trenin, Grigory Dronov, Ilya Samsonov.

Rivals : Thomas Chabot, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Matt Barzal, Anthony Cirelli, Charlie McAvoy, Tage Thompson, Troy Terry, Rasmus Dahlin, Alexander Nylander.

Strokes :

•‎ Kaprizov was the tournament’s top scorer with 12 points. Nylander Jr. had the same amount, but Kirill scored more goals; •‎ Russia played in the same group with the future finalists of the tournament – ​​USA and Canada. And both lost; •‎ In the semi-finals against the USA, it came to shootouts and after three attempts, ours were ahead in the score – and almost spilled onto the ice, celebrating the victory. The team didn’t seem to know that the IIHF had changed the rules and there would be five shootouts. After the celebration, Troy Terry’s time began. •‎ In the overtime game for third place, Denis Guryanov scored a goal – and Valery Bragin awarded him with perhaps the most memorable coaching speech – of those that reached the television audience.

How it was : Bragin’s creative method was highlighted by the bright talent of Kirill Kaprizov – and it became obvious. Many, including myself, remember this tournament like this: the team butts, butts, endures, endures, and then Kaprizov comes out for a minute (with Misha Vorobyov in the center) and a little hockey begins.

In principle, simplicity + genius is a Bragin classic, and the scale of Kaprizov’s talent, which is now obvious to the entire hockey world, made it possible to count on gold, but such a misfortune happened on shootouts. They rejoiced, burned out and, in fact, missed the worked-out victory. And then Guryanov helped with the bronze – we win games for third place so often that this victory looked natural and very calm. Although, of course, it wasn’t.

Magic level : actually a mystery. A happy and touching denouement, the genius and smile of Kaprizov. We are back in medals, after all. But there was no match-event again – and without it, the tournament turned out to be somehow empty.

MFM-2018. Armenian team. Eliminated in the quarter-finals

Persons : Artem Minulin, Artem Manukyan, German Rubtsov, Dmitry Sokolov, Mikhail Maltsev, Vitaly Abramov, Dmitry Samorukov, Andrey Svechnikov, Artur Kayumov.

Rivals : Filip Chytil, Martin Nechas, Filip Zadina, Elias Pettersson, Alexander Nylander, Rasmus Dahlin, Adam Fox, Kyler Yamamoto, Brady Tkachak, Quinn Hughes.

Strokes :

•‎ Three hockey players of Armenian origin played in the national team – Artem Manukyan, Alexey Polodyan and Andrey Altybarmakyan; • The generation of 1998 was considered one of the most talented in recent times, but Bragin himself openly spoke at the MFM – this is not entirely true; •‎ In the quarter-finals against the US, Andrey Svechnikov, aged 17, received only 10:54 playing time. It was January 2, 2018. On October 4, 2018, he played his first game in the NHL and spent 11:48 on the ice.

How it was: I remember that we talked a lot about our Armenian guys. I remember very stylish, excuse me, Swedes. I don’t remember the Russian team at all.

The gloomy simplicity of Bragin’s plans was always masked by superstars who regularly infiltrated his team – and so many good things were said about our 1998 that it seemed that the stars should have appeared here too, but alas. And we were left alone with the Bragin style.

And by itself, it looks like this – a defeat in the quarterfinals, as if we were not there. In such cases, Bragin, by the way, quickly hands over all the cards himself and nods at the overall talent of the team – as if it were all about him.

Level of magic : definitely the most no MFM of the era.

MFM-2019. Blind is a comet. Denisenko – the new Gusev?

Persons : Grigory Denisenko, Klim Kostin, Vitaly Kravtsov, Daniil Zhuravlev, Artem Galimov, Alexander Romanov, Nikolai Kovalenko, Vasily Podkolzin, Petr Kochetkov.

Rivals : Martin Nechas, Philip Zadina, Nick Suzuki, Alexis Lafrenière, Quinn Hughes, Jack Hughes, Philip Kurashev.

Strokes :

•‎ Denisenko was the tournament’s top scorer with 9 points. Aleksi Kheponiemi scored the same amount, but Grigory had more goals; •‎ In the group, Russia beat Canada and took first place – which happens very rarely.

How it was : that’s strange – for once Russia took all four matches in the group and went from first place to a convenient opponent, and the tournament seemed to only spoil it. Well, in the quarterfinals they slammed Slovakia 8:3 – but then lost to the Americans in a labor style and went for bronze.

And the team seemed to be pretty – the trio Denisenko – Kravtsov – Kostin, Sasha Romanov on the blue line, Dima Samorukov – but nothing seemed to happen to her. The defeat from the USA in the semi-final was somehow everyday: Russia endured, endured, but suffered only 1:2.

The only surge in the entire tournament was Pavel Shen’s frank pass in the group match with Canada, which brought us to the first place in the group.

Magic level : yes, a medal after a 1/4 elimination in the last tournament is good, but there is a feeling that it turned out more like an illustration of a saying that you need to be afraid of your desires. The national team earned the green road and walked along it, fulfilled the norm of some actions (victory over Canada, bronze) – but without much enthusiasm.

The case when there is nothing to complain about, and there is nothing to cling to.

MFM-2020. Larionov at headquarters. Russia dominates

Persons : Igor Larionov, Alexander Romanov, Alexander Khovanov, Yegor Sokolov, Grigory Denisenko, Yegor Zamula, Ivan Morozov, Dmitry Voronkov, Vasily Podkolzin.

Rivals : Jakub Lauko, Alexis Lafrenière, Dylan Cousins, Barrett Hayton, Bowen Byram, Jamie Drysdale, Trevor Zegras, Arthur Kaliev, Cole Cofield, Rasmus Sandin.

Strokes :

•‎ In the last minutes of the first match, Larionov and Bragin did not share the tablet – the second one wanted to show something, but the Professor did not give the marker;

•‎ In the group, Russia bombed Canada 6:0, but finished the stage in third place; •‎ In the final, the Russian team led Canada 3-1 with 11 minutes left in normal time, but conceded three goals in a row and missed out on gold. This was Bragin’s last youth match.

As it was : Russia suddenly strengthened Larionov – and away we go. Lost to the Czech Republic in the first game. Voronkov broke Lauko – in the first minutes and until the end of the tournament.

6:0 with Canada – in the second. Then 1:3 from the USA. And then the semi-final with Sweden – with our advantage, as usual lost. And then the final – and we have to lead 5:1, but we only lead three, and this should be enough, but not enough. And then Voronkov lacks removal.

On the one hand, the national team had the same drawbacks: problems with positional attack and, as a result, with the realization of the advantage that they had gained in martial arts. On the other hand, the team fought excellently, and there was enough talent in it. I still don’t understand how to analyze this, but apparently the solution is just that sometimes tournaments happen, sometimes teams appear that do not need to be analyzed.

Panarin and Tarasenko also won in 2011 contrary to logic – the 2020 team was good for its irrationality. But irrationality eventually let her down.

Wizard Level: The most action-packed tournament for years to come and back. Russia was not perfect, but was as ready to win as possible, did everything for this, played a bunch of bright matches – both victorious and lost. Some disputes around this team were for 3-4 seasons of the KHL. The supertournament – precisely in the performance of the Russian team – which we will not see for a long time.

2021. The first MFM without Bragin. 0:5 from Canada

Persons : Igor Larionov, Vasily Podkolzin, Vasily Ponomarev, Semyon Chistyakov, Marat Khusnutdinov, Rodion Amirov, Ilya Safonov, Zakhar Bardakov, Yegor Chinakov, Yaroslav Askarov.

Rivals : Trevor Zegras, Artur Kaliev, Matthew Beniers, Cole Cofield, Jan Myshak, Lukas Raymond, Tim Stuetzle, John Peterka, Bowen Byram, Jamie Drysdale, Anton Lundell.

Strokes :

•‎ For Vasily Podkolzin it was the third MFM; •‎ In the group, Russia beat the future champions – the US team – with a score of 5:3; •‎ Our junior team played with all the teams from the world’s top 6 at the tournament: in the group – with the USA, Sweden and the Czech Republic, in the playoffs – with Canada and Finland; •‎ Russia for the first time in history lost in the match for the third place of the MFM.

How it was : I really wanted to see what it was like – the team without Bragin. Feelings, of course, are mixed. On the one hand, Larionov’s project cannot but amaze the imagination – even now he is doing some inspiring things at Torpedo.

On the other hand, the audience was completely unprepared for this. This greatly affected the impression of the tournament, of the national team on it, and the ending (two defeats in a row, with a very bad score) irrevocably packed the team into negative.

I think the following factor came into play here: the tournament showed the real effect of Bragin’s long years of work. They got used to the national team that it is boring, that during its matches you can sit on your phones and not look at the details: boring hockey goes on and on, the main thing is goals. When the Larionov team began to leave the zone through a pass, the fans did not accept this – and in the comments they demanded the return of Bragin. Therefore, when the team openly and successfully collided with the Americans and the Swedes, it was considered for granted, and when difficulties arose with the Czech bus, it was a disaster.

It is very interesting what Larionov’s second tournament would be like, but it was not destined to see him – the coach himself was removed, then the MFM was postponed, and then Russia was removed from the list of participants.

Level of magic : one outstanding match changes the feeling of the tournament? Yes, unless something like 0-5 from Canada happens in the playoffs. Russia took a wonderful match from Sweden and beat the future champions, but of course this cannot cover the blurred ending.