The 20-year-old hockey player won all the games played in September and was named the goalie of the month.
Artemy Pleshkov is now in his fourth Junior Hockey League season with Kapitan. In September, the Stupino goalie won all the eight games played. He has one shutout and there has been only one game when he allowed more than two goals. On October 23, he made his Kontinental Hockey League debut: substituted the starting goalie in Sochi vs Avtomobilist game.
In an interview with the JHL press service, Artemy Pleshkov talked about the emotions of his first KHL game, the reasons why he was not able to be coached by famous Russian coach Gennady Kurdin, about how he prepares for games to rock music, and why his mother does not watch his games.
– What were your thoughts before hitting the ice for your KHL debut?
– I felt jittery before the game. I was the backup goalie, the game was pretty equal, but at the end our team lost momentum. I substituted the starting goalie, so I didn’t actually have time to fully understand what was going on. I didn’t feel too worried, I managed to step into the game feeling more or less confident.
– Did you have enough time to get the feel of your first KHL game?
– I had eight minutes of ice time, stopped four shots – it was a great experience for me. It was only after the game that I realized I had made my KHL debut. I saw the main team’s players preparing for the game, felt the atmosphere. It has induced only positive emotions: it is clear to me now what to aim for. I really want to play more games for Sochi.
– Have you gained more confidence after making your KHL debut?
– I didn’t have enough time to adjust to KHL games and get used to a different level, so I can’t say that it has become easier for me to play for Kapitan. Quite the contrary, I feel greater responsibility. I have to perform even better.
– You did not lose a single JHL game in September and made the dream team of the month. Do such achievements affect confidence?
– I try not to pay attention to such things, because otherwise you can overthink and get a bad run. You have to continue playing as usual. Wins add experience and confidence, but you should not think about them too much. Making the September team motivates and makes me work even harder to achieve new successes. Any appreciation is nice.
– How did you start playing hockey?
– I was a hyperactive kid. At first, my parents signed me up for gymnastics in order to develop overall physical condition. We practiced basic moves there: rolling, jumps. After a year, we were to choose a new sport. My mom offered to try figure skating and sent my dad and me to an ice stadium. But my father signed me up for hockey. Then he called my mom and said: “I bought skates and a helmet.” She was shocked, but I have been playing only hockey since then.
– You mentioned that your mom does not watch your games. Why so?
– She is too worried about me. When she is at home, he leaves the room so as not to watch the game on TV. When at the arena, she either goes outside or waits in the buffet for the game to be over. When I was a child, my mom was taking it coolly and attended all the games. But when I was at my final year with the sports school, she began to worry more and became a rear spectator. She hasn’t watched a single JHL game from the stands.
– Does she watch the replays later on?
– Yes, she does. She even gives me some pointers on how I should have played at certain moments. My dad also began to worry a lot more when I started playing in the JHL. But he does attend games. My sister, brother and girlfriend also come to watch games when they have a chance. I am very grateful to my family for their support.
– What sports schools did you attend?
– I started with Vityaz. I was a skater for about a year, then I saw goalie’s gear, fell in love with it and became a netminder. I moved to Rus, but they had a new coach joining the team and we turned out to be sort of incompatible. I was offered to join Vityaz again, the team of 2002 was coached by Gennady Kurdin back then. He is a peculiar kind of coach. It was very difficult for goaltenders to progress: the team was strong, it happened so that I only had to stop two or three shots per game. Meanwhile, Vasily Zakrevsky started working for Rus. I returned there and was coached by him until finishing the sports school.
– How did you happen to be with Kapitan?
– At the end of my final year at school, I was offered to try my hand with Kapitan. I came there, skated for a week, liked everything and decided to move. The first year was a tough one: I lived at the sports base, was to play more mature hockey, felt more responsible. I had to prove myself every game, hold on to every single chance. The support of my family and friends was of great help – it allowed me to take mind off hockey and all the difficulties.
– You said that if you have a son, you won’t let him become a goalie. Why?
– I’ll see how strong he is mentally and what his attitude to hockey is. It’s a tough job to do: great responsibility rests with a goalie, you have to always use your head. Won’t argue, skaters are also to work hard. But forwards and defensemen can be saved by a goalie, but he himself will not be saved by anyone in most cases.
– Do you agree with people saying that goalies are quite a different breed?
– Yes, and I notice it myself. But people tell me I don’t fit this description. I do have oddities, but not as obvious as those of some other goalies. Some netminders are self-contained, others are quirky. It seems to me that this is also due to responsibility, attitude to games and practices.
– Were there moments when you didn’t feel like talking to anyone?
– Things happen, but I still won’t decline an interview, for example. After a bad game, I can spend an evening alone, think everything over. But I try to recollect myself right away so as not to overthink things.
– Do you think it is important for an athlete to talk to media nowadays?
– I believe that talking to media is essential – it develops you as a player and as a person, and affects the League and hockey in Russia in general. Now there are many interviews and various programs. I like to be involved in promotion of hockey, although it can be difficult to find time for it.
– How do you prepare for games?
– My day goes as everybody else’s: morning skate, having a nap and a solid meal. I try not to let the game being forefront in my mind. When I am on my way to the game, I start to think some things through. I also listen to music – rock or hardstyle. It helps me organize my thoughts and get in the right mindset for the game.
– Do you talk a lot to other people before games or not?
– I have learned to feel when it is better for me to be silent, and when to talk to others. I can have a laugh in the locker room before a game, but within the bounds of reason, so as not to burn out and not get too distracted from the game. It depends: I can chat with my teammates, listen to music or be alone with my thoughts.
– You said that it is hard for you to play when you don’t feel jittery. But doesn’t it throw you out of your stride?
–Sports excitement should always be there. If it’s not, I start to worry, because I don’t understand: either I have burned out, or I haven’t got in the right mindset. It causes unnecessary anxiety, which does not allow you to play calmly. You need to deal with your thoughts properly, distribute them, and then everything will be fine.
– You allowed two goals on three shots in your first JHL game. How did you regain composure?
– It was really tough. I remember that I burned out during the game: I was a backup goalie that night, there were many fans in the stands. I was standing behind the glass, watching hockey, and then they told me to go out on ice. I didn’t even have time to warm up. Then I realized that it had been a good lesson for the future, so that I learn how to get into the game quickly. You need not just to stand and look around, but to stay involved even on the bench. I remember it from that day on. This experience helped to cope with pressure in the game for Sochi.
– Did you ever consider quitting hockey?
– Such thoughts sometimes strike any athlete, in the event of a bad streak. It happened to me as well, but never led to making a serious decision.
– What would you do if it wasn’t for hockey?
– I thought about it, but I could not think of what I would do. When I was at school, everyone was thinking about their future profession, but I did not understand what I would like to do in life. I always thought only about hockey - I didn’t need anything else. That’s why I entered the sports university to pursue a degree in coaching.
– What other sports do you like?
– There are many great sports: soccer, martial arts, tennis, basketball. I love to play whatever. I played tennis every day when I was on vacation. It is an intellectual game: it is necessary not only to hit the ball with a racket, but also to choose the right position, how to hit, where to move then.
– What teams do you cheer for?
– As for soccer, I cheer for Manchester United. When I was a child, I was not great at soccer, I mainly played as a goalkeeper. As we were growing elder, shots were getting harder, so I realized that I needed to be an outfield player. In soccer, almost every shot is painful, because there is no such protection as in hockey.
– What hockey goalies do you like?
– There are a lot of good goalies, everyone has something to learn from. I really like Igor Shestyorkin’s style. He is great at positioning - no unnecessary moves. It can be seen that he is calm and has a cool head.
– Do you like travelling?
– I love travelling. I’ve visited Canada, Finland, Czech Republic. But these trips were connected with hockey, so we didn’t manage to see the cities and feel the atmosphere. Being at competitions, you keep your mind intent on games only. Even walking around the city, you still think about the game and do not have time to take stock of the situation around, to look at people, to see how their life works. Once I was on vacation in the capital of Poland - Warsaw. I liked it a lot, I would like to visit this city again. I am not a fan of beach-related rest, it’s more interesting for me to walk around beautiful places, see local culture. I want to go to Switzerland, visit Geneva.
– What do you do in your free time?
– I spend almost all my days off with my family. I watch films and series: comedies, mystery movies, I love Quentin Tarantino movies. Most recently viewed series are Stranger Things and Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch. I recommend watching Brassic - it is not to be watched by children, but it’s very funny. I also dream of collecting LEGOs. When I have an opportunity and a place to keep them, I will be doing it with great pleasure.