It’s almost the end of the regular season in the JHL and it’s the best time to start objectively evaluating this year rookies. We asked the debutants to share their take on their first professional season, coaching methods, getting ready for the games, team ambience and, obviously, their results.
Sergei Mylnikov. New talented Chelyabinsk goaltender
Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk goaltender Sergei Mylnikov is one of the few rookies among netminders this season in the JHL, who often gets the nod from his coaching staff. What makes this progress even sweeter is that Chelyabinsk is on top of the standings. In the spring of 2016 Chelyabinsk used their right to protect four of Traktor junior hockey school alumni, including goaltender Sergei Mylnikov.
«My dad brought me to hockey,” says Mylnikov. “I started as a skater, I played defense. Back then we were going to a lot of Traktor games. Their goalie was Sergei Mylnikov [another Chelyabinsk native, bears the same first and last names, played for Traktor from 2006 to 2009]. I guess, you can say he made me want to become a goalie. My dad and I told my coach about that and they gave me new equipment. I did well in goal and that’s how I got on Traktor-99 team. A few years later they began calling me up to play with older guys on Traktor-98. I managed to play for both teams. In the end of the 2013-14 season I joined Dynamo Moscow. I played for them for a year and then went back home.”
In his rookie professional hockey season Mylnikov became Belye Medvedi’s starting goaltender. He played 31 games this regular season, winning 18 and losing just 6. Mylnikov spoke about his transition to major junior hockey.
«JHL players are tougher and stronger than in junior hockey school,” he said. “Obviously, the pace of the game is faster. We have a positive atmosphere at our practices. Sometimes we do something wrong, but there’s nothing to worry about, we just try to get ready for next practice. Besides our coaches are always there to tell us how we should work. They crack jokes every now and then, too. Personally, I try to stop every shot at practice. That gives me more confidence for the games.
“Goaltenders work with a special coach. We study game situations with him. He mostly advises us to play more with our sticks and talk to the defensemen during the game. Every goalie on Belye Medvedi has a positive attitude. We support each other during the games. We understand well that we have a tough competition on our team. Everybody wants to play. I’m glad that I get the nod more often. That gives me tremendous confidence, which shows in my play.”
They say goaltenders are special people. They have their own pre-game rituals and they really stand from psychological point of you. Mylnikov doesn’t share his secrets of positive attitude but he does share his pre-game routine and tells what music he listens to get pumped up.
«I try to get rid of things I don’t need in my head before the game and focus on hockey,” he says. “My backup and I warm up passively – we kick soccer ball around and shoot some hoops. Within the hour before the game I get pumped up. I work with tennis balls to improve my reaction and I listen to the music. What music? Mostly rock music and Scroodgee. I like his voice.”