Mikhailov Academy's forward is currently topping the league with 20 goals in 20 games, with his team being on the right side of the playoff line. His goals are winning him a place in the team's top line, and he may as well get a call from the senior team, which is currently battling for a playoff spot in its first-ever season. In this interview, Gleb Petrov talked about his childhood, his move to North America, and the current season in Tula.
"I started running around our place with a stick in my hands when I was just two or three," Petrov said. "I roller-skated in summers, and on a winter day, my dad got me to the ice rink. Cherepovets is a real hockey town, I always attended Severstal games, and the arena was always packed. When I started playing myself, I liked practices right away. We were lucky enough to have a great coach who knew how to make the practices interesting."
Visiting Severstal's games, Petrov had a chance to watch many good players lining up for the Cherepovets local team. "When I was a kid, my favorite was Yury Trubachyov. He's a legend in Cherepovets. I also liked Josef Straka, a right-handed forward. Watching his games was exciting. Then, when I grew a bit older, my favorite was Pavel Buchnevich. However, I know personally neither him, nor Straka - only Trubachyov."
In 2017-2018, the Cherepovets-native forward played 14 games for the Colorado Evolution in the AAA U16 league. "At that time, our team of 2001-born players was playing only in the students' league," he explains. "We couldn't count on playing many games. For this reason, my family and I decided to try moving overseas. My best friend, Yegor Chizhikov, moved there earlier, and we discussed the situation. My parents supported me, and I wasn't scared about moving abroad."
"We had other Russians with us," Petrov continues. "My best friend from Cherepovets was also on the team. Chizhikov and I lived with the same family; they were great persons, always ready to help if needed. I am a bit nostalgic about that time - it was great. Sometimes we are still in contact with 'our family', but naturally, we lost most of our ties as time goes by. I remember a fun episode - it was Thanksgiving Day, and I was presented with the traditional turkey. I had no clue about how to eat it, how to cut my slice. Everyone around was laughing."
As most of the other Russian players, Petrov had a significant challenge in front of him: the language barrier. "In the first two weeks, Chizhikov was my translator. However, after a bit, I started understanding what I was told. After a month, I started talking. I needed some six months to begin freely talking. However, after returning to Russia, I also started forgetting the language."
In North America, the forward had to adapt to new realities gradually. "There is some difference in junior hockey overseas," he explains. "The practices are a bit different; I'd say the coaches ask to attack more. We were doing exercise always at our top speed. Playing in North America, I learned to take my decisions faster - the ice surface is smaller. This is a trend in Russia too now, and it's good; you need to do everything faster."
After spending time in Colorado, Petrov returned to Russia in his native Cherepovets. However, after a season split between the JHL and the NMHL, the forward changed team, moving to Nizhny Novgorod, where his stats had a significant jump forward. "I didn't play much for Almaz, and my family and I decided that it would have been better to move on. Naturally, leaving my home wasn't easy. In Nizhny Novgorod, I had more room, and I quickly understood that I needed to deliver as I wouldn't have another chance. I was delighted there, we had an excellent team, and the city is beautiful. I spent two years there with only the best feelings."
After two years in Nizhny Novgorod, Petrov moved to the league's newest addition, the Mikhailov Academy. He currently has 20 goals in as many games, when his top was 15 tallies in 2019-2020 with Chaika. "I don't know how I could score so much; probably it's just because I started shooting more. It's pleasant to top the league, but it's early. I need to develop further to be able to play in the VHL and the KHL. I know about Mikhail Shalagin's record - 48 goals in a single season - I want to be even better. I moved to the Mikhailov Academy - among other things - because here, the organization has a VHL team: I want to reach that level and go on with my career. Moreover, there's everything I need to develop - a good rink, practices, and excellent coaches."
Just as most of the other young men, Petrov also enjoys videogames and cybersports. "We have no computers at our facilities - we need to find a club and play Dota or Counter Strike. I also like following cybersports, for example, I followed The International Dota 2 tournament. There will also be the Major Counter Strike tournament - it's like a World Championship!"
But there isn't only hockey and video games in his life. "I want to get a Corgi dog. It's not big, but it's explosive. I enjoy watching videos with this breed. However, I don't have a flat, and I live at Mikhailov Academy's base - where could my dog live? However, when I have my flat, I'll definitely get one."
But other than becoming a pro hockey player and a passionate Corgi owner, Petrov has also other tasks - winning. "My goal is to win whatever I can. When you play, you always want to win. My objective is also to get to play in the KHL."