2019 YEARBOOK. NIKITA SHASHKOV

2019 YEARBOOK. NIKITA SHASHKOV
Interview
13.09.2019 в 16:00
2019 YEARBOOK. NIKITA SHASHKOV
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Former Sibirskie Snaipery – and currently Sibir – forward spoke about his World Juniors experience, Novosibirsk fans and his emotions on the eve of making KHL debut.

- Your junior hockey career was one to envy. You played in JHL, KHL, U18 and U20 World Championships. What stands out for you the most?
-You’re right, there were a lot of memorable events but if I had to pick just one I would say it’s winning medals at world championships. Obviously, making KHL debut, playing my first games in the league and scoring my first goals in Europe’s top league also felt good.

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- What were you more nervous about – making JHL or JHL debut?
- It was a very comparable feeling. I had something new ahead of me on both occasions. I felt an important event approaching and wanted to try myself at a new level at the same time.

- How did you deal with the nerves?
- You feel a little nervous before every game but after a couple of shifts you get into the rhythm and think only about how to play better and help your team.

- What would you say are your Top-3 assets as a player?
- Ability to play physical hockey, relentlessness and will to battle till the end. I would also say it’s my shot and ability to follow coach’s orders.

- What do you remember the most about the World Juniors?
- Making the team was the most difficult part for me. World Juniors were already underway and I still wasn’t put on the list. There were two of us – Alex Khovanov and myself. We were both forwards so coaches had to choose one of us. It’s was tough on both of us mentally. We worked hard but we didn’t know who was going to be picked. In the end, I made the team. It got easier after I that as I was able to score some goals and points. 

- Did you have a feeling during the tournament that your team was going to win medals?
- No. We weren’t sure about that till the end. Even before the bronze medal game no one was saying that those medals were as good as ours. Because when we faced them in round robin, they scored in the opening shift. At times they were even up by two goals. The Swiss played well in the bronze medal game as well. They didn’t let us establish a comfortable lead so we had battle till the end, right till the final second. We were happy when the final buzzer went off.

- You made your first steps in hockey in Novokuznetsk and then moved to Novosibirsk. That’s where you made your major junior and professional debut. What city do you consider home?
- My grandfather and grandmother live in Novokuznetsk. I have a lot of good memories from my childhood there. But I spent my teenage and adolescence years in Novosibirsk, so both cities have a special place in my heart.

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- Novosibirsk will host the 2023 World Juniors…
- Yes. The city eagerly awaits that. We’re going to be happy to host the participants. A new arena is being built for the tournament. Sibir will play their home games at the arena afterwards, so the players also are anxious to see it (laughs).

- Sibir manages to sell out their home games at the old arena as well. What’s the secret?
- Our fans really are the best! Many of them come to support the junior team as well and follow Sibirskie Snaipery to other cities. There are always fans in the stands. Such support gives wings to the players. The fans truly are the 6th skater!

- What did you learn in JHL?
- Three years ago I was just making my first steps in the league. Practices and JHL games definitely helped my development. It’s an important stage in every player’s career.

- Did the league change over time?
- It looks that the league gets younger and younger every year. Although, I realize that it seems so to me because I’m getting older myself (laughs). Young players bring something of their own to the league. Perhaps, you could call this development.

- What would be your advice to those players who make their major junior hockey debut this year?
- Work hard, do your best at practices and never give up if something doesn’t go right. Coach will always see if you work hard at practices. He will always give you advice how to become a good player.

- Do you have any pre-game routine?
- I wouldn’t call myself a superstitious man but if I play well I try not to change anything in my approach to games (laughs).

- You’ve spent your entire career on Sibir system. Have you ever felt like changing the scenery and, perhaps, play in the West?
- No. Since when I first moved to Novosibirsk, it was my desire to make the first team here, develop there, help my team with my play and achieve great results.

- What do you usually do in your spare time?
- Nothing out of the ordinary. I meet with my friends and family, go to the movies and spent time with my girlfriend. There are a lot of exciting places in Novosibirsk where you can go for a walk and have a good time. If it’s your first time in the city, I would definitely recommend to visit the zoo, opera theater and, of course, the hockey arena.

- You won’t be able to play in the JHL this year. What are your goals for the season?
- Work hard, earn my coach’s trust and compete for roster spot.

- Avto Yekaterinburg surprised many last season. Who do you think will fill their shoes this year?
- I expect Sibirskie Snaipery give their fans a reason to cheer. The team has undergone a coaching change and new players have joined the team. I hope that it’s going to affect the team and its results well.

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