15 games in Junior Hockey League – that’s what it took Omskie Yastreby rookie Dmitry Zavgorodny to make Top-10 of Omsk forwards in points. The forward got called up midway through the season – he made his debut in ‘Hawks’ jersey on January 9th – well past the halfway mark of the regular season. It is anybody’s guess how many points would Zavgorodny score, had he played at least half of the season. In 15 games he was limited to 5 goals, 7 assists and 12 points. Dmitry told us why he didn’t follow the footsteps of his brother, who also played hockey, and became a forward, his most vivid memory of his rookie season and how to steal the perfect place on a train going on the road.
ON HIS HOCKEY PASSION
“My older brother is a hockey player (Sergei Zavgorodny currently plays in Kazakhstan Championship, he had played for Omskie Yastreby from 2010 to 2014). When I was a kid he always gave me his hockey stick to hold and then when I turned five, our father brought me to the rink and enrolled me to junior hockey school,” tells Dmitry. “I was spending a lot of time at the rink. When we didn’t have practices, I would come to my brother’s games. He got into hockey when he was six years old. He used to be a defenseman and a forward. Later on his coaches decided he should play defense. I got into hockey a little later and I started out as a forward right away. Now I can say that it was for the best. Whenever I have any questions, I ask my brother for advice. We always keep in touch and he helps me. Most often he’s the one who approaches me with advice and I listen to him.”
“I had practiced a bit with the team before getting called up,” continues Zavgorodny. “My junior hockey school coach told me I was called up a week before the game. I played two games on the road in Yekaterinburg for my junior hockey school team and then went to Chelyabinsk to play Belye Medvedi right after that. Major junior hockey is different in the quality the game is played. It’s more systematic, while the players are bigger and more experienced. It’s a whole new experience. Every game I played for Omskie Yastreby was memorable. Actually, it was a little difficult to adjust to the pace of the game. I had to remind myself to keep it simple and to make safe and swift plays. Little by little I got the hang of it.”
ON HIS ROOKIE SEASON
“The most vivid memory of the season is probably my first JHL goal,” says the young forward. “Although, my debut game gave me a lot of strength and confidence.”
- In the same game you scored your first JHL goal, you also picked up two assists. How come you had such a productive game?
- Perhaps, I got a little bit of luck on my side. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. I also scored on two shootout attempts (laughing).
- Why do you think you were able to have such a successful rookie season?
- I created a few scoring chances and tried to capitalize on them. And I also owe a lot to my teammates. The guys on the team welcomed me, cheered me up and gave a lot of advice.
- What are the most intense moments for you in hockey?
- Probably when the game is tied and the teams battle hard throughout it. When you can’t afford to make a mistake, because every mistake you make may lead to a goal.
- What was your most memorable game on the road? It doesn’t have to have anything with the game itself.
- I don’t quite remember where it happened but one time we had to travel on a train with our hockey bags. Usually, there’s a designated cabin where we put our bags. But when there are a lot of players who go on the road, some of them have to travel in the bag cabin.
- Omskie Yastreby couldn’t make the playoffs this year. What did you say to each other after the last game? What did the coaches say?
- We couldn’t make the playoffs. We were just one point behind but it’s not the end of the world. There were no fancy speeches. Everyone just felt shallow.
- What do you have to do to gain confidence before the game? Do you have to prepare mentally in a special way or maybe there’s a certain superstition that you have?
- You have to have a good warm-up and get fired up. I think it helps. I always get pumped just to a certain point that I don’t burn out. I always step on the ice with my right foot. That’s the only superstition I have.