01.08.2019 в 10:00


Avto Yekaterinburg forward Maxim Rasseikin spent almost his entire JHL graduation season with KHL’s Avtomobilist. However, he did help his teammates in Kharlamov Cup Playoffs and certainly made his mark as he led the league in post-season scoring. Rasseikin won JHL silver and joined Olympic Team Russia right after Game 7 of the finals. He aims to become a regular on Yekaterinburg’s major hockey team. In this interview Rasseikin shares his Junior Hockey League memories and gives advice to those players who are yet to score their first goals in the league of strong.

- Kharlamov Cup Finals ended a few months ago. Is it enough time to get your emotions back in check?
- There were a few times on vacation when I would fall asleep, failing to understand how it came to be. We were just one step away from winning the cup and yet we lost it! Obviously, it was frustrating. I looked back at it a number of times and kept replaying some moments in my head. But I have to get ready for the new season and forget everything that happened in the past.

- You were a leader on your JHL team. How did you feel in that role?
- Obviously, it’s awesome to be a leader! We were the oldest players on the junior team. We were expected to make the impact. But at the same time being a leader is difficult. You always have to lead your team and play at a certain level. It was difficult mentally. I kept thinking that I had to boost my team and play physical so that my teammates would follow my example.

- Did any young players on Avto took you by surprise and impressed you?
- To be honest with you, I didn’t expect all of our young players to play at such a high level. Everyone did! I was shocked! I don’t think I played so well when I was their age (laughs).

- How different were you back then?
- Everything has changed since then. When I joined the junior team, I was 15 or 16. I also looked up at my seniors and tried to do as they did. Players leave every year, while you become more experienced and you know what you need to improve. You’re trusted more and you become a different player.

- Do you remember your first Junior Hockey League game?
- I think, it was against Chayka [Nizhny Novgorod]. They won the Kharlamov Cup that year. I even scored in my first game.

- The following season you made you KHL debut.
- Yes. If my memory serves me right, it was the game against Barys [Nursultan} and we won 2-1. Andrei Vladimirovich Razin was our coach. I wasn’t even realizing what was going on. I just played hockey, although I was really worried. But after some time had passed, I thought to myself, ‘That is so awesome!’.

- There was a period in your career when you played overseas for the Lincoln Stars when you were 17. How difficult was it to find yourself in a foreign country?
- Very! There were a lot of things I didn’t understand – where should I go, how do I know my way around? Besides, there were absolutely no Russians. But it passed quickly. I didn’t speak the language almost at all and I couldn’t say anything. I just used a translator app on my phone all the time. After about 4-6 weeks I began to understand more or less what I heard.

- How would you compare the junior league in USA to JHL?
- I was a little lost when I first got there. It was difficult to play and I would miss a lot of games. Other guys played together for 4 or 5 years, while I came over for just 6 months and played just 3 or 4 games. It was very difficult for me. It’s not that I wasn’t ready. Maybe I just didn’t expect certain things to happen and thought that everything would be alright. In terms of atmosphere, it’s really great over there. It’s a true show. As for team building and road trips, we have it much better over here.

- What is the most memorable JHL moment for you?
- The whole last season. That’s when the most incredible games took place. It’s never going to happen again. Obviously, it’s turned out the way it did. But it’s alright. Getting to men’s hockey was long overdue!

- What was the most difficult team to play against?
- The games against Snezhnye Barsy [Nursultan] were the toughest. They would just hit the ice and pay little attention to the puck. Two men would just run at you. They played very tough hockey.

- Would you say that it was more difficult to play against Snezhny Barsy than against SKA-1946 St. Petersburg and Loko Yaroslavl in Kharlamov Cup semifinals and finals?
- To be honest, it was for me. 

- What is toughest JHL goaltender to score on?
- There are none. Maybe I had trouble scoring on [Vladimir] Galkin. He would stop everything at practices. Other than that, I scored on everyone.

- Would you include Maxim Rasseikin on your personal JHL All-Star Team?
- I don’t know (laughs). I would like to.

- Many hockey players don’t shave during the playoffs. You mentioned once that it wasn’t for you. Do you follow any hockey traditions or superstitions?
- The only reason behind it was that I can’t grow a beard. Wearing beards is a basic hockey tradition. I don’t see other option for myself. Maybe I could not cut my hair or something. But it’s not an issue. The important thing is to believe in yourself!

- Right now you are the only Avto player who was born in 1998 to make a name for himself in KHL. What is your secret?
- Mostly hard work, although teammates sometimes are of help. I mean, when you step on the ice and play with more experienced teammates, you get advice from them and it helps to build confidence.

- How can a young player prove himself in KHL?
- You have to be a leader first of all. Some players block shots, others do the dirty work, some are able to score, while others are playmakers. Ideally, a player need to possess all of these qualities.

- What JHL experience are you going to bring over to KHL?
- Confidence is of the utmost importance. I grew more confident and it helps to play at the level.

- Are you happy with your JHL career?
- Had we won the cup, then, yes, I would have said I was satisfied. But as it is, there are some things I’m happy with and there are some things I’m not happy with. Although, there are more positives than negatives.

- What would be your advice to those young players who are just making their first steps in Junior Hockey League?
- I can’t give any specifics. First of all, you need to cherish the league and learn from your seniors, who are always ready to give you advice. You have to listen to your coach – that’s the most important thing! And you have to understand that time really flies.