25.01.2023 в 14:30

“I do not regret leaving Canada. Being a full-time KHLer at the age of 19 is very prestigious.” Gleb Ivanov – about Igor Larionov, hockey etching itself on his face and winning the championship with Dynamo

The 19-year-old defenseman has already played more than 40 games for Torpedo in the KHL.

Gleb Ivanov is a Moscow Dynamo trainee, the team he won the Kharlamov Cup with. The defenseman came to Nizhny Novgorod from Canada after spending one season in the junior hockey league there. A few games into the season, the young blueliner managed to gain Igor Larionov’s trust and become a full-time player of the main team.

In an interview with the JHL website, Ivanov talked about playing for Torpedo, winning the championship with Dynamo and how hockey has etched itself on his face.


“Torpedo is a sensational team, there is no need to say that a great job of helping youngsters’ progress is being done there”

– What does being a 2022/23 KHL rookie feel like?
– I am now in my first KHL season, it is an unforgettable experience. I played my first game on the road against Spartak. Obviously, I felt quite jittery, especially since my entire family and I myself are from Moscow. At first, I was a little worried, but then I felt I had blended in. To be honest, I did not even expect that I would play so many games, I’ve already appeared in more than 40. We have a close-knit team and we support one another in difficult situations, I am happy to be a part of it.

– What helped you to become a full-time player of the team so quickly and successfully?
– A bit of luck was a thing I couldn’t do without. I played in Canada in the WHL (Western Hockey League - note), I had gone there for the season. Due to the world situation, I was not able to fix my visa, so I returned to Moscow and started preparing for the season. At that time, I had a valid contract with Dynamo for another season, but I didn’t get a qualifying offer, so I became a free agent. Literally two or three days later, I received a call from Andrei Leonidovich Kozyrev, who had coached the Russian U18 team for more than five years. I had been called up to his team on a regular basis and had shown my quality. A good fortune befell me, I could not refuse, the offer was too good (smiles). Working with a coach who trusts you, whose requirements you are familiar with, is a great pleasure. I do not regret leaving Canada, because being a full-time KHLer at the age of 19 is very prestigious.

– At the end of December, you were signed to a two-year contract extension. What did you feel when accepting the new offer?
– Knowing that coaches see you as the team’s future is very pleasant, I was deeply impressed. I would like to thank our coaching staff for their trust in me.

– Does the fact that many of the Torpedo players have experience of playing in North America influence results?
– Our team does not have a typical North American style, we do not try to kill anyone or play too tough. Our style is more similar to the one we had in the U18 team coached by Andrei Leonidovich. He believed in hockey with less physicality in order not to cut blocks with a razor. After all, there are other ways of gaining possession of the puck but crunching an opponent. You can just lift a stick, steal the puck and counterattack quickly. Some teams do play the classic run-n-gun hockey, I’ve seen it before. It’s quite difficult for those who have never played against such opponents, so it’s a little easier for us.

– You mentioned that at the Junior Challenge Cup Andrei Leonidovich had performed a detailed analysis of team Canada’s style. Is Torpedo that scrupulous about opponents as well?
– Little seems to have changed. Hockey is about details, they are what the game is built on and what Andrei Leonidovich and Igor Nikolaevich pay much attention to. We get a full report on an opponent during video analysis. Nikolai Alexandrovich Khabibulin performs analysis of goalies, we study the opponent before any game.

– You have a negative plus/minus, do you consider it to be an issue?
– Team results are of top importance, I don’t pay too much attention to personal stats, especially since I am in my first KHL season. Obviously, I would be glad to have a positive plus/minus with my team performing that well. I do my best to make sure the progress is there, I draw some conclusions after each game, rewatch my shifts. I can say that a negative plus/minus is not something I am disappointed about.

– You don’t like to check your stats, but when you do it, what is the first thing you pay attention to?
– I would say, points, like everyone else. When people check a player's stats, the first thing they notice is how many points he has. Any player wants to have more assists and goals, it is an open secret. But for me, team performance and team wins come first.

– When participating in Torpedo’s preseason training camp, you neither ran long distance nor performed the Cooper test. What did you feel when you found out you would do without that?
– (smiles) Well, Vasya Atanasov, Yegor Vinogradov and I had gone through all that during JHL training camps. We were really surprised that we would do without that with Torpedo. We were laying the groundwork for our game during the training camp. I don’t even remember us running at all. But of course, it’s a good thing for the conditioning.

– This season, your shots were clocked at more than 130 kilometers an hour. Do you work on your shot a lot?
– We have a shooting area in the gym, and I work on my shot there every other day or every third day after practice. I shoot between 300-400 pucks, both weighted and regular ones. I want to improve my shot, speed, dribbling skills every day.

– There are no big names among Torpedo players, can it also be to team’s advantage?
– It doesn’t matter where you played last season. The main thing is how you are performing now. All our guys contribute to the result of the team. What Igor Nikolaevich Larionov and his coaching staff have built is fantastic! Not many people expected this, there were so many skeptics in the preseason. When Torpedo signed some unknown young guys, people didn’t understand what would follow. At the end of the day, everything goes well and I hope to God we will go on in the same vein.

– What will help Torpedo win the Gagarin Cup?
– Passion to win, comradery, commitment to work, offensive hockey and our so-called tiki-taka. It is very difficult to control the situation when an opponent makes one-touch passes in the neutral zone. Even if you analyze it beforehand, you still don’t always mange to respond on time, that’s the way the human brain functions.

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“Both in Canada and in the JHL, everyone is eager to play, wants to work his way up and to prove himself”

– In 2020, you went to Canada, how did it happen?
– In May, when the U18 World Championship took place and Dynamo won the Kharlamov Cup, my agent Andrei Matveev received an offer. Medicine Hat Tigers wanted to select me in the CHL Import Draft. He gave me a call and explained the situation. The club had shown an interest in me a year before, but I had refused because of a difficult situation due to the pandemic. When I received the second offer, things had already improved and my family were down for that. My dad told me that fewer than all get a chance to play in North America, he believed it was worth a try. I think that time spent in Canada helped me grow mentally, first of all. I had no relatives or Russian-speaking friends there. One teammate of mine was from Latvia, he spoke broken Russian and only used nominative case. I was able to grasp the meaning of everything he said, but it was far from what I was used to. In Canada I got the feel of physicality in hockey, because players rush at full speed to check an opponent along the boards. Having seen this, you start to keep your head on a swivel and make quicker decisions and those things make the players process the game at a faster pace.

– Do the differences between the WHL and the JHL strike the eye?
– All games, with one exception, are played on Canadian-size rinks, thus the speeds are higher. Apart from that, both there and in the JHL, everyone is eager to play, wants to work his way up and to prove himself.

– You were -28 after one season in Canada, why is that?
– In Canada, they only believe in offensive hockey with all players joining rushes. That year our team became much younger. As far as I understood, all older leaders were traded for young promising guys. Two or three leading players left the team and we ended up being the bottom team in the division. We would change tactics every two weeks and my plus/minus happened to be that negative. But it was pretty much the same story for all other players too.

“I want to win the Gagarin Cup and eat something out of it, maybe some okroshka”

– What did you feel when you won the Kharlamov Cup with Dynamo?
– I spent the entire regular season with the team, but I didn’t play many playoff games because I left for the U18 World Championship. The option of staying and missing the training camp was not even discussed. We were together with Nikita Novikov, we played two playoff games and joined the national team right after.

– Did you follow Dynamo when you were with the national team?
– Of course. At that time, we were not in America, but in Novogorsk for a two-week training camp. We watched every single game, stayed in touch with our friends, with the team. Then Dynamo won the Kharlamov Cup, we congratulated everyone. When your team wins, it’s an unforgettable experience, even if you are not there. But I still did get a medal (smiles).

– How did you spend your day with the Cup?
– I took the Kharlamov Cup with me to the Farewell Bell ceremony at school. I told the guys about my hockey life: how I started playing hockey, where I spent the past year, about the season in general. They all enjoyed it. I got some pictures taken with everyone, with the headmaster, with my teachers. Then we spent some time with the Cup in the family circle, took some pictures and gave the trophy back.

– Didn’t you consider eating something exotic out of it?
– I don’t know why, but I didn’t feel like eating anything out of it, although I knew many players did that. I want to win the Gagarin Cup and eat something out of it, maybe some okroshka (smiles).

“Something cracked, I put my hand to my face and there was blood”

– You are a Moscow hockey trainee, was moving from the capital to Nizhny Novgorod hard for you?
– I didn’t know what to expect, as I had never visited this city before, even though I had been to many Russian cities during my hockey life. I really like Nizhny Novgorod, there are many beautiful places here to spend some time with my friends and family who often come to visit me. No wonder Nizhny is called the young people’s capital, so everything is cool.

– What was your family’s reaction to you moving to Torpedo?
– My family took it well. They knew that it would be a new level for me, a chance to prove myself in the KHL. My father gave me a few pointers on how to play against older guys. My mom was sort of stressed at first, she kept calling me and asking how things were going and if I had some food to eat (laughs). In general, I have already settled in. I was staying at a hotel close to the arena for the first little while, then I rented an apartment I am living in now. Everything is fine.

– Igor Larionov wants players to abstain from sugar and junk food, is it difficult for you to eat healthy?
– Avoiding sugar is probably a right thing to do for an athlete. I trust Igor Nikolaevich, but it’s difficult for me to quit sugar. I sometimes have a cup of tea with a chocolate bar. As for junk food, I haven’t eaten it for a long time, I don’t really like it. And soda can be easily substituted with sparkling water, why not?

– Do you follow other sports besides hockey?
– I am a big soccer fan, one might say, an ex-soccer player. When I was a kid, I played both hockey and soccer. My paternal grandfather also played for Dynamo. We have such a family dynasty of Dynamo players. I played both sports at once in this system. I was nine years old when my dad told me to choose my preferred sport, I decided on hockey. Lionel Messi is my idol. I have Barcelona and Argentina jerseys. They have recently won the World Cup and I was extremely happy about it. I watched every match, it was amazing.

– Can you tell us how you got your scar beneath you right eyebrow?
– It happened a little while ago (smiles). We played in Ekaterinburg against Avtomobilist. They dumped the puck deep into our zone, I rushed to the corner to get it and did not manage to angle properly. An opponent hit me and it happened so that my head was between a player’s shoulder and the board. I hit my face against the board. Something cracked, I didn’t even understand what was happening. I put my hand to my face and there was blood, I skated to the bench. It didn't actually hurt that much. Everything happens so fast that you don't even feel it.