Ladiya Togliatti defenseman Yegor Savikov set a new franchise record in single-season assists in his Junior Hockey League debut year. He also tied 2-year old franchise record in single-season points. This is an interview with the top Eastern Conference defenseman in December.
On being named the top defenseman of Eastern Conference in December
- After one practice my teammates congratulated me on that. The coaches praised me and I also received many messages from my family and friends. Now I have to aim even higher and keep working hard.
On moving to JHL from VHL
- I began my hockey career in Samara. The club doesn’t have a Junior Hockey League team so after I had graduated from junior hockey school I went to try out for the VHL team. I played a pre-season tournament with CSK VVS. I was told they were ready to sign me to a full contract but I won’t be getting a lot of ice-time. They advised me to get experience in YHL first and that’s why I spent my next two seasons with Kometa.
On difference between YHL and JHL
- You can tell Junior Hockey League level of play is higher right away. JHL brand of hockey is faster. You have to think quicker and make decisions on the spot. In kid hockey you can take the puck, dangle and lose it – and nobody will say anything to you. But in JHL you’re going to get punished for that. Coaches can even bench you. Generally speaking, in YHL you play for yourself but in JHL you play for the team.
On being sent to Kazan
- I was invited from Samara to Togliatti along with several other players. After the try-out tournament I was invited to join the club. But three years later our coach Eduard Gorbachyov joined Ak Bars and he took a whole 5-man unit with him to try out. That’s how I ended up in Kazan. I spent the 2016-17 season within Ak Bars system.
On setting record in rookie Junior Hockey League season
(In the 2020-21 season Savikov scored 4 goals and 27 assists for 31 points in 44 games, setting franchise record for single-season assists and tying Semyon Perelyayev’s record set in the 2017-18 season for single-season points).
- To be honest with you, I used to focus on defense. I was the classic stay-at-home defenseman. But in Kazan they taught me to join offensive rushes. They asked me to be more active in the offensive zone. I didn’t know that I set the franchise record for single-season assists. I was very surprised when my teammates told me about it. It was awesome to make franchise history.
On being Ladiya captain
- The role wasn’t new for me. I had been a captain in YHL and kid hockey. I didn’t know that I would get to wear the capital C on my jersey – it’s something our coaching staff came up with. The boys didn’t argue and accepted me as their captain. As a captain, I try to lead by example on the ice and pump up my teammates in the dressing-room, as well as helping my team in every possible way.
On improving his game
- Right now I focus on improving my shot. That’s my decision and that’s also something our coaches asked me to do. So after I practices I stay on the ice longer and work on my shot.
On Ladiya’s chances of making the playoffs
(Ladiya has 44 points in 45 games and eight points behind the playoff zone).
- We have a chance so we keep battling! Coaching staff told us that the playoffs have essentially begun for us. We have to win every remaining game to make Kharlamov Cup playoffs. We worked really hard before New Year’s so we could do better in the second half of the regular season.
On 2021 World Juniors
- I followed the tournament. I had played against a lot of Team Russia players back in kid hockey so it was exciting to follow them. I also really want to compete at World Juniors. I still have time to make myself recognized by junior Team Russia coaching staff.
On possible move to North America
- I had an opportunity to move overseas in the spring. I had to choose between North America and Ladiya. As a result, I decided to stay close to my home and family.
On jersey number
- It’s not that important for me but I have a slight superstition. I like to have number seven on my jersey. I used to be have #25 because two plus five equals seven. Now I like #34 because three plus four equals seven!