Taifun Primorie Region’s Ilya Gorev, who was named the top defenseman in the Western Conference of Junior Hockey League in December, opens up about the aftermath of getting hit in the face by a puck, battling fear and Admiral’s return to KHL.
On being named the top defenseman of the West in December
- I found out about it from the boys at a practice. I didn’t believe them at first but then I checked Junior Hockey League Instagram and saw the news myself. I was really happy! It’s important for me because these achievements motivate you and help to keep getting better.
On playing offense
- Back in junior hockey school I was a defenseman. When I was around seven years old, I was put on defense and I have played it ever since. I didn’t use to think about offense too often but everything changed this season. I began focusing on offense more as well as playing in the offensive zone. Our coaching staff asks me to join offensive rushes whenever I have a chance.
On journey in hockey
- It wasn’t me who decided to give hockey a try. It was my father’s. When I was three years old, I found dusty rollerblades somewhere at our house. I put them on and rolled around the house crashing into walls. That’s when my father decided to sign me up for sports. That’s why I started playing hockey when I was just four years old. Thanks to my father my brother also became a hockey player. He has retired and works as a coach now.
(Ilya Gorev moved to Taifun Primorie Region from Krylia Sovetov Moscow in the middle of 2019-20 season).
- I joined Taifun the day before the transfer deadline. I barely made it! Luckily, the team was in Chekhov at the time so I didn’t have to fly out to Vladivostok and we took care of the paperwork quickly.
On playing against former teams
(Before joining Taifun Primorie Region, Ilya Gorev played for JHC Atlant Moscow Region and Krylia Sovetov Moscow)
- These are the only teams I want to be especially good against. I really want my game to be over-the-top so that they would remember my last name one more time.
On time difference
- It’s difficult to get used to. We fly to and fro all the time during the season and I have stopped noticing certain differences in my body and mind. It’s something I got used to. It’s important to live in the time zone where you’re located. Otherwise, it’s going to be difficult.
On learning during flights
- If I can’t fall asleep, I either read or watch movies. Recently I read a book about basketball players. It’s called ‘Great Coach’s Manifest’. I was inspired by a line there – the more mistakes you make, the stronger you become.
On fans’ great interest to Taifun
- There is no KHL team in Vladivostok now, which makes us the top team in town. And we’re fun to watch. We proved it in games against strong opponents. There was a talk with club management about Admiral returning to KHL. Managers spoke to everyone on the team and pointed out that Admiral will come back next season. It was a great news for us. It made everyone happy. If a junior team has a pro team to go to, it’s a huge motivation.
On making the playoffs
(After 48 games Taifun Primorie Region are only 11th in the Western Conference)
- We have never lost hope of making the playoffs. We still have a few games in hand to make up for the points we lost. We can still gain points and do our best to make the playoffs. It’s a little frustrating to be out of the playoff zone but our disposition motivates us to work harder and play to win in every game. No game is of no importance. We have to give it a 100% in every game. Otherwise, what’s the point of playing hockey?!
On getting hit in the face by a puck
- In the very first game of the season against Loko Yaroslavl I was hit by a puck in the face early in the first period. I re-watched the video a lot of times. I didn’t see the shot right away so I didn’t turn away.
I was brought to a hospital and I was out of action for a month. I went through a surgery. They put four titan implants and I can take them out only after a year. Usually, metal detectors don’t ring for the titan implants but one time it did happen. I had to prove to a security guard at a supermarket that I had implants in my jaw.
On fear of pucks
- At first, I was scared when the puck was hitting me. But I worked on it. I began deliberately blocking shots and the fear became just a backdrop.