The 16-year-old forward is a star of the championship-caliber team.
Year after year, excellent players steadily appear in the SKA system, they demonstrate their leadership skills with youth and junior teams and play well in the Kontinental Hockey League. One of the talents who got off to a strong start in the Junior Hockey League is Ivan Demidov. The forward made his JHL debut at the age of 15, he scored 21 (10+11) points in 25 games in his first season (2021/2022). Ivan has had a great start of the 2022/2023 season: he is ranked third among U17 forwards in the entire history of the JHL, ranked second among the top scorers of the JHL and averages more than one point per game. The 16-year-old player is the leader of SKA-1946 in terms of goals+assists, he has 21 (8+13) points in 16 games.
In an interview with the official JHL website, Ivan Demidov talked about his historic achievements, playing together with his brother Semyon, the reasons why he became a forward and what his jersey number has to do with Evgeny Malkin.
– SKA-1946 is the current Kharlamov Cup champion. Do you feel that you are a principal opponent for any team?
– Yes, we do feel it, because every team wants to take points from the champion. But we also get primed for each game, so there is no lack of motivation.
– With such a level of competition, SKA-1946 is the leader of the Gold division. What is your secret?
– The coaching staff is doing a great job, all the guys want to prove themselves and go all out. It results in our team ranked first at this stage. Hopefully we keep this up and finish the season at the top of the standings.
– Do you keep the top list of U17 goalscorers in head?
– Not really, but guys joke around sometimes. Helping the team win is my top priority. If I can also score some goals, it’s twice as good, because my goals help my team.
– Matvei Michkov's record of 55 goals looks incredible.
– Well, he is an exceptional player (smiles). Matvei has a knack for the net, it is a thing that cannot be trained. You either have it or you don’t. He does. In addition to being talented, he also works very hard on himself, these things combined together produce a great result.
– Do you feel that you are a leader of the team and that the confidence is there?
– Yes, I do. I also feel the coaches’ trust. I no longer lack self-confidence like I did in the 2021/2022 season when I played for SKA-1946. Now I am fully confident in my abilities.
– Did the fact that you knew Vladimir Filatov from playing for the national team help your adaptation?
– Yes, you are right, I knew Vladimir Viktorovich from the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and not only him - Andrei Viktorovich Mironov and Andrei Andreevich Kadeikin, too. We knew one another well even before I joined SKA-1946. So, getting adjusted was not hard for me.
– Do you remember your emotions after SKA-1946 winning the championship?
– Yes, I do. I was very happy for the entire system, after all, we could not win the Kharlamov Cup for so many years and finally it happened. Words cannot express my emotions, I was so happy for the guys who played. I didn’t really manage to celebrate, because I was to play for the 2005 team the following day, we also had an important game.
– Does it boost motivation when the trophy is so close?
– Of course, it increases motivation, because you want to get first-hand knowledge of what winning the championship feels like. I want to win the Kharlamov Cup for the team again.
– In one of the interviews you said that your generation can be compared with the one of Ovechkin and Malkin. What needs to be done to make it grow to the same level?
– I think that guys should not think about it, don’t cross the bridges before you come to them, as they say. You need to do your job and go towards your aim step by step. You shouldn't read what they write about you on the Internet, you need to try to put it aside. If we just do our job, everything will be fine.
– Do you mean to say that you don’t read about yourself? About the record among U17 forwards?
– My teammates talk about it, make some jokes. As for me, I try to abstract my mind from it.
– Vladimir Filatov called you a fan of hockey. What is it demonstrated by?
– Our head coach is right, because I don’t feel in shape without additional training sessions. For example, if I don’t work on dribbling or shooting in the evening, I won’t feel that good the following day, I won’t have the right feeling of the puck. In addition to working on skills, I also try to improve my conditioning, I take famous basketball player Kobe Bryant for a model. I read a lot about him, about his work ethic, it's just crazy. I strive for working the same way as he did.
– Your coach also said that you are being prepared for men’s hockey by the entire system. By what means?
– By the playing system. SKA-1946 has a similar system to that of the main team. Everything that we do in the JHL is to be transferred to the highest level in the future and there should be little difficulty for us in doing it.
– The KHL team calls up some more experienced players: Sergei Ivanov, Arseny Koromyslov, Dmitry Buchelnikov, Matvei Michkov. Does it motivate young players of SKA-1946?
– Yes, it does. It is a motivating factor. I played with all these guys for SKA-1946. When you see them being called up to the main team, you ask yourself the question: “Why can’t I make it to the team too?”. It’s very motivating, you start working twice as hard to deserve a chance.
– What do you need to improve in order to deserve it?
– First of all, I need to beef up and improve my conditioning. All other components also need to be improved: skating, speed on the ice and decision-making, because everything is faster in men’s hockey. I might lack consistency, I need to do better supporting the defense. These are the main aspects that I try to work on.
– Are you more of a goalscorer or a playmaker?
– Fifty-fifty, I’d say. If I am in a prime scoring area, I will take a shot, of course. If I see that my teammate is unguarded or wants to get open, then I will send a pass and he will score. So, I don’t bear a label of a goalscorer or a playmaker. I am more of an all-round player, I can both shoot and send passes.
– In what way is the SKA system different from other systems?
– As I see it, the Hockey City is any hockey player’s dream. Everything necessary for players’ development is provided here, I got the feel of it when I joined the SKA system. I can’t say that something was wrong with Vityaz, but still the conditions weren’t the same as they are with SKA. I think the complex here is the best one in Russia, and even in the world. Everything for hockey is in place.
– How did you start playing hockey?
– My parents signed me up for hockey, my elder brother had been playing it, so I kind of had no option but to play it too (smiles). I liked it right away. I started with skating with older guys, then I played for my age group. Dmitri Vladimirovich Terekhov was my first coach, he worked in Dmitrov with kids born in 2005. Since I had practiced with older guys, I was already able to skate well when I joined my agemates, plus I worked a lot with my father, we used to go to a skating rink in winter. I took naturally to taking my first steps in hockey. While other guys were learning to skate, I was already good at it, so I had more time to work on something else.
– Is there a valuable piece of advice given to you as a kid that you remember in particular?
– Our first coach was telling us that when playing for a minor team, we should not have a team-first attitude. You must first lay the ground for becoming a good player. So, when I was a kid, I thought that it was better to play for myself first, to develop my game, so that later I could learn how to play for the team. If you have a team-first attitude when you are a kid, you won’t be able to develop individual skills, which is a hard thing to do when your years increase.
– Did you start playing offence right away?
– Yes, the coach decided I would play offence as soon as I joined the team. If you skate well as a child, the coach sees that you can skate past an opponent and score, you will play offense.
– Your elder brother Semyon said that he had got to choose between soccer and basketball. Did you consider any other sport for you to play?
– Like any hockey player, he plays soccer in summer. I also played for my soccer team at a regional championship. But it was just a summertime hobby. I used to join the team, help guys win some matches, but I never thought about quitting hockey and playing soccer instead. Hockey was and still is my number one priority.
– A little while ago you played on the same line with your brother. Had you been waiting for it to happen?
– Yes, I had been waiting for this. We had already played for the same team, but not on the same line, so I was very happy to know that we would be linemates. We are very similar in general, I know his style, I know where a pass should be sent for him to receive it. He also knows in advance where I will get open, we feel each other, so it was pretty natural for us.
– What is your priority: nice plays or efficiency on the ice?
– I don’t even know, I just like to play hockey, but the nice one, not the dump and chase. When I was a child, I asked my grandfather what team he cheered for, his answer was: “I cheer for nice hockey.” I try to dangle, take shots when there’s a chance to do it. And if there is an option to send a pass for a potential open-netter, I will do it. But at such moments you need to stay reasonable – to know when you can make some nice moves and when you need to play for the result and score some garbage goal.
– Was your jersey number picked by your parents based on your date of birth and numerology, as was the case with your brother or is everything not that complicated?
– When I was seven years old, we played our first games. It was in 2012, when Evgeny Malkin rocked at the World Championship. I really liked him as a player, so I decided I would wear number 11. Now this number is taken by other player of our team, so I picked number 91.
– Speaking of 2012-style Malkin, do you prefer to rewatch old-school games or modern ones?
– When it comes to team play, I prefer old-school games, I really enjoy watching the Russian Five play. The chemistry they had is amazing. However, hockey is changing, so you need to watch something modern and learn from the new generation too. You need to look up to both old-school and modern players.
– What do you do in your free time?
– My homework (laughs). I don’t really have any free time. If it’s a day off, I can go to a sauna with my friends, play some video games for a couple of hours, and that’s it.
– How do you do in school?
– I am an eleventh-grader now, this year I am to take the Unified State Examinations. The results will determine what educational institution I will go to. Most likely, it will be the Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health, but I haven’t thought about it yet.
– What are your favorite subjects?
– Russian and literature.
– Do you often read?
– The last book I read was Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne. I am ok with reading: I can read an interesting book, but I’m not too fond of doing it. Treasure Island is my favorite book, I have gone over it, like, five times.
– What are your goals for the season?
– I don’t really have any personal goals. The only team goal is to win the Kharlamov Cup again and bring it back to St. Petersburg.