“My mom watches fights with her eyes closed.” Alexander Pelevin - about childhood, debut for “Torpedo” and being an A-student

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05.08.2022 в 12:30

“My mom watches fights with her eyes closed.” Alexander Pelevin - about childhood, debut for “Torpedo” and being an A-student

The 18-year-old defenseman of Chaika played in four leagues in the 2021/2022 season.

Alexander Pelevin was born in Balakhna, a town in Nizhny Novgorod region with a population of 48 thousand people. He has been a defensive player since childhood, was an A-student until the eighth grade, used to box with his father. Pelevin made his Junior Hockey League debut with Chaika in the 2020/2021 season, he appeared in 41 regular season games and eight playoff games.

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In the 2021/2022 season, the hockey player made his Kontinental Hockey League debut with Torpedo, played two games in the Supreme Hockey League for Mikhailov Academy, 29 regular season games and ten playoff games in the JHL and also played for Nizhny Novgorod U18 team in the U18 Hockey League. The player even received the Iron Man award at the end of the season for his performance in four tournaments. The defenseman was also the captain of the Russian U18 team. In total, he scored three goals and was credited with 13 assists in 88 JHL games. In an interview with the official website of the League, Pelevin talked about his busy season, the role of the captain, the preparation for games and the reasons why he did not want to attend practices when he was a child.

“When I was a ninth-grader, I got my first C in geometry - it was a disaster”

– How did you start playing hockey?
– When I was six, it was time to sign me up for sports. My dad was saying that thumb-twiddling was not an option. He used to be a sambo practitioner, used to box and work out in a gym, but he wanted to sign me up for soccer or hockey. Soccer was the most affordable sport in Russia, and hockey was a sport my dad liked. So, he called two coaches, neither of them picked up the phone. The hockey coach called us back first, and we went there.

– You have mentioned that you did not like it at first. What caused difficulties?
– I wasn't ready. I saw my peers staying out, having fun, being busy with trifles. And I had to go to practices after kindergarten, I felt tired. So, I didn’t like it at first, I even invented various excuses to skip practices: I acted sick, or ran to my grandmother’s place - she lived nearby. She was telling my parents to give me a break, but mom and dad insisted on training. Six months later, I started to enjoy the process.

– Did you feel like quitting hockey later on?
– No, I was just wondering if I could find my place in life if I wasn’t playing hockey. Those were just trains of thought, I never thought of quitting. I tried to study well when I had time for it. When I was a child, we had minor tournaments on holidays or weekends, so it was not difficult. I am grateful to my parents, they motivated me on and explained that it was important, as you never know how life will turn out.

– What grades did you have at school?
– I was an A-student until the eighth grade. Then I started going on road trips. When I was a ninth-grader, I got my first C in geometry - it was a disaster. Mixed feelings. I realized that I would miss classes, there would be no time to prepare for exams, so I left school after the ninth grade and went to college. I am a student in the Physical Education program, my plan for the future is to try myself in coaching.

– You started playing hockey in Balakhna. How did you happen to be in Nizhny Novgorod?
– Torpedo was opening branches in different towns of Nizhny Novgorod region. I was a Torpedo-Balakhna trainee. The best players were sent to Nizhny Novgorod. I made it to a tryout tournament, and was invited to the training camp after it. I made the team at the age of seven. I used to go to Nizhny Novgorod for tournaments and practice in Balakhna. At the age of 11 or 12, we were required to practice in Nizhny Novgorod. There were three of us from Balakhna: we used to go back and forth, or stayed at the apartment of one of our teammates’ parents. We managed to practice, play, study. Some guys decided not to go and stayed in Balakhna, but now they don’t play, so I have no regrets.

– Why did you become a defenseman?
– My first coach was a defenseman and he decided I would play defense, even thought I was not a large player. Apparently, he saw something in me. Many guys tried playing different positions: forwards became goalies, goalies became forwards, and I’ve been a defensive player since then.

– What is your attitude to fights?
– I believe hockey has a place for them. Sometimes you need to let off steam, give an impulse to yourself or to your team. I am a short-tempered person, but sometimes I have to restrain myself on the ice when I understand that a fight is needless. Team goals above personal ambitions.

– How do your parents react to fights?
– My dad is always supportive, we’ve been boxing and wrestling since I was a child. Anything can happen, you have to be able to stand up for yourself. My dad sometimes gives me a few pointers on punching techniques, indicates my mistakes. And my mom watches fights with her eyes closed, she gets mighty upset.

“We were receiving tremendous support from fans during home games. That is what makes you want to play hockey”

– You spent two years in the JHL. In what way was the 2020/2021 season different from the 2021/2022 season?
– The start of the 2020/2021 season was rather chaotic: I wasn’t always able to earn a spot on the roster, made some mistakes, couldn’t gain trust of coaches. Then I got used to speeds, started to make faster decisions and to get more ice time. My experienced partner Roman Sinitsyn helped me a lot, it was his last season in the JHL. We did well together and were the first defensive pair. I had no emotional stress in the 2021/2022 season, I was hitting the ice with peace of mind and was doing my job.

– How can you evaluate the 2021/2022 season for Chaika?
– Second place in the regular season is not bad, but we could have finished first. I think we were lacking experience. Irbis had several players coming back from SHL for the playoffs, those guys were of great help for the team. We did our best, we battled hard and we should have gone further in the playoffs, but we didn’t manage to.

– Did you expect that five games would be played in the series against Sputnik?
– We always hope for the best outcome: to play three games and advance to the next round. But we were preparing for a serious battle, because Sputnik is our principal rival, they are tough to play against.

– How did you feel before the series against Irbis?
– As the season progresses, fatigue accumulates, but I still had enough energy. We had to beat them. We won two hard-fought home games. We were receiving tremendous support from fans. That is what makes you want to play hockey, the games were almost all packed. It gave us a second and a third wind. Nizhny Novgorod fans love hockey, big thanks to them for their support. Playing on the road, we were relaxed, we thought that we had already won the series, but Irbis thought otherwise.

– You appeared in one KHL game. What were your emotions?
– I went on a road trip to Latvia and Finland with the team, hoping that I would get a chance to play. I was dressed for the game against Dinamo Riga as the seventh defenseman. I thought I would sit on the bench, watch the game, get used to the speed visually. But I was given an opportunity to play early in the game, I had two minutes of ice time.

– Did you realize that you made your debut for the main team or wasn’t there enough time for it?
– There wasn’t enough time, I skated back and forth and didn’t really manage to do anything. I saw other guys of my age - Ilya Kvochko, Alexander Perevalov, Matvei Michkov. They did make their debuts. And I am displeased with myself. If I was ready, I would be given more ice time.

“Some players go around with straight faces and do not talk to anyone”

– How do you prepare for games?
– I have a ritual: I always have coffee before warming up, sit on the bench by the ice and think about the game. It helps me to concentrate. Some players go around with straight faces and do not talk to anyone – the case with me is not the same. I like to prepare for games on my own, but I believe we should treat games positively. Stay focused and keep your mind on what you are doing, but do it all with a smile.

– You have been a captain of children's teams, of the Russian U18 team. How do you feel about this role?
– A captain is a bridge between the team and the coach. It is a very demanding role. It sometimes happens that the coaching staff cannot get an idea over to the players, this is when the captain gets involved. I started taking the “C” easier with the passage of time, but I feel more responsibility when I wear it.

– How do you manage to give a boost to the team?
– There are different ways of doing it. If something doesn’t work out, you have to find words, even when your own performance is not great. Any team has several leaders, everyone should be able to say something at the right time. Sometimes a player can shrink into himself because of mistakes. Then you need to support him, cheer him up. There are cases when a fight helps to give an impulse to the team - such situations hype up and unite the team.

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“I practiced punches with my dad in the offseason – it may come in handy”

– How did you spend your offseason?
– I had a little rest. I had academic deficiencies that I needed to make up. I spent weekends at home with my family, then I started training, and there was no free time left. Two months flew by in the snap of a finger.

– How did you prepare for the season?
– I was working on my endurance and speed - strength training, running, gym, stickhandling off the ice and with a shooting pad. I boxed with my dad, practiced punches – it is a helpful skill and may come in handy in the upcoming season.

– What do you do in your free time?
– I like spending time with my family and friends. I am constantly in Nizhny Novgorod, so if I have some days off, I go home. Getting to spend some time with my parents during a season is a big deal. I have many relatives, younger brother and sister. They all miss me and wait for me to visit them, so I spend my free time with them.

– Do your brother and sister play sports?
– My brother engulfed himself in his studies. He is a fan of Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod: he keeps abreast of the news and follows my career. And my sister does gymnastics. With half a heart so far, just like me when I was a child (laughs).


Ksenia Goryunova

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