About the League
Loko-76 returned on top of the Eastern Conference with a win over Reaktor Nizhnekamsk.
Loko-76 Yaroslavl’s Ivan Sinitsky was named the top defenseman of last week as he notched six assists in eight games at the start of Parimatch Junior Hockey League regular season. Young Yaroslavl team became a true sensation as they quickly climbed on top of the Eastern Conference standings. 18-year-old Sinitsky spoke about his team’s strengths.
“We decide everything on the ice and not in useless conversations”
- The first and obviously main question is about Loko-76 who shocked everyone climbing on top of the Eastern Conference standings. How did you pull it off?
- Obviously, it wasn’t easy. We were able to get off to a good start because of the hard work we have done. Since we have a young team we have to work hard and do our best in every game. We have to prove that we can successfully compete at this level. We’re doing our best to prove our worth to ourselves, to our coaching staff and to our team management.
- You put together an 8-game winning streak. Could you imagine anything like that prior to the season?
- We expected to get off to a good start. We we certain in our abilities and we realized that a good start is very important to have a good season on the whole. We didn’t pay much attention to the predictions about us that were made in the pre-season. We just play our brand of hockey and we’re ready to keep working hard.
- Do you feel that your opponents underestimated you?
- It’s hard to tell. We rely on our brand of hockey. We prove our worth on the ice. We decide everything on the ice and not in useless conversations.
- In your opinion, what is the biggest Loko-76’s upside? Is it your speed, skill or determination?
- We don’t have stars on our team who would put everyone else on their back and score goals night in and night out. We have a well-bonded team. This group has a strong character and team spirit. We win because of our determination because everyone can rely on his teammates. We play for one another and it works for us. As for speed and skill, obviously, it’s also very important. But I would say that we’re pretty average at it. We mostly win because of our hard work and determination.
- Do you think you can get a little over yourself because of this success?
- Staying away from star sickness is very important. We just have to play the way we do. It’s going to be difficult to deal with but we have to do our best.
- Most of Loko-76 players are Yaroslavl natives. You must have known each other for a very long time. For instance, personally you used to play with Grigori Kozlov. Ivan Pirogov and many others. How much does it help?
- You’re right. I have known these guys for a very long time. I have known them and their parents for a long time. We have always supported each other. We have always done our best to stay in touch. Even when we played against each other for different schools. So everyone pretty much knows everyone else on the team. Yaroslavl isn’t a big city. That’s why everyone knows everyone. Even if we used to play for different teams, there never was any rivalry.
- Perhaps, some of your teammates even group up on the same block?
- It is entirely possible. But I don’t know for sure.
- You were named the top defenseman of the week in Parimatch Junior Hockey League as you scored six points in eight games. That’s exactly as many points you put up last season in 24 games. How do you explain such progress?
- I don’t follow the statistics at all. I just try to do whatever I can for the team. I give everything I got in every shift and the points just sort of happen. Last year I played in NJHL and it was difficult to adjust to that level after junior hockey school. It was an entirely different level for me but I got used to it gradually. Now I have a bit of experience so I’m growing more confident in my abilities.
- Do you see yourself as more of an offensive-minded defenseman?
- No, I’m a stay-at-home defenseman. I enjoy joining offensive rushes. Sometimes the coaches scold me for that if I lose my focus and get in too deep. But I do my best to make up for that as quickly as I can.
- What do you parent tell you after such a successful start of the season?
- To be honest with you, everyone has mixed emotions about it – everyone is surprised and hapy at the same time. My girlfriend, my mom and dad – everyone is very happy for me. They wish me further success.
- How difficult is it for you to adjust to Junior Hockey League hockey after having played in NJHL?
- There some really decent teams in NJHL who dressed older players – HC Ryazan and Dizelist [Penza]. They had some pretty skilled players. We played quite a bit of games against them and it really helped to get ready for Junior Hockey League. So my head wasn’t spinning because of the pace of game here. Although, you can feel the level of speed and skill of Junior Hockey League players. The most difficult part of it all was the summer when we played pre-season games.
- We you afraid you weren’t going to be competitive when you first joined Junior Hockey League?
- Obviously, I felt a bit nervous. I was thinking that there’s bound to be guys who play better than me. But I’m the kind of guy who always wants to prove his worth to his coach by doing hard work. Obviously, losses happen but you have to get up after that and work on fixing your mistakes.
- Tell us about your first steps in hockey. Obviously, Yaroslavl is a hockey town but you must have had a choice between hockey and other sports?
- Actually, it’s an interesting story. I came to the rink entirely by accident. My friend and I were just sitting at kindergarten. We’re still in touch with him, by the way. We just sat there on the patio doing nothing. And then he says, ‘Let’s go to a hockey game!’. I had nothing better on my mind so I told him, “Sure, let’s go”. The next day my dad comes home and says he signed me up for a hockey school and that I’m putting my first pair of skates on August 8th, 2008. I was five and a half years old at the time. Obviously, it was difficult at first. I would fall all the time and I was skating with confidence. But I did enjoy it. And I have never regretted it. Hockey became the most important thing in my life.
- You are yet to score your first career Junior Hockey League goal. Have you decided already how you would to celebrate it?
- I would really like to dedicate the goal to my mom. To the point of sending kisses to the stands (laughs). I mean, that is if it’s going to happen in a home game. If it happens on the road, I’m not going to do anything special, it’s going to be pretty regular. Otherwise, my teammate would tell me off.
- What goals have you set for yourself for the season? Do you have plan to score a certain number of points? Or perhaps you want to be noticed by U18 Team Russia?
- I don’t set any goals for myself. I believe, whoever needs to notice me, is going to do just that. I just play my brand of hockey and have fun with it. I play with my boys – the ones I have known for a long time. We have a great ambience in the dressing-room with this group of guys. I like everything about it.
- How important is it not to forget that hockey is foremost a game and not work?
- Many get really fixed on that. They think like, ok, if I make a mistake, I’m going to get benched and never play again. I believe, you shouldn’t focus on that. You just have to play for fun and then everything will come naturally to you – confidence, goals and points.