Top players of October open up about their progress. SKA-1946 defenseman spoke at length about his team’s long winning-streak, while Altay’s forward, who leads the league in goals and points, shared with Parimatch Junior Hockey League media relations department details about the first two months of the regular season.
“Tolpar is positioned well in the standings right now but there’s always room to grow,” said Tolpar Ufa goaltender Dmitry Braginsky. “I have to thank my teammates for being selected the top netminder of the month. They really help me with their determination, persistence, blocked shot and great defense in front of the net. I don’t think I play consistently well. I think I have a great potential that I need to unlock.”
“Altay got a new head-coach this season and also went through heavy roster changes in the off-season,” said Altay Ust-Kamenogorsk defenseman Nikita Volosenkov. “Oleg Bolyakin is an experienced coach. Sometimes he induces VHL systems and makes us play more aggressively, which leads us to wins. He’s a very regime-like coach. He runs a tight ship. It all begins with the dressing-room. For example, players can’t use their phones in there and it always has to be tidy. Success lies in details like these. We grew more confident after the first few wins. We started getting points on a regular basis and understood that we can play against anybody. We expected to be constantly present among the Top-8 teams of the conference but now we’re 5th and think that we can do better. With such a team, we can be among Top-3 in the conference.
- What win stands out the most for you this month?
- I remember beating Omskie Yastreby well. It was a really tough game and we came out on top. I would also point out our home series. We beat Sibirskie Snaipery and Kuznetskie Medvedi in back-to-back series. We hit a bit of a slump lately. After tough games in Omsk we didn’t look so sharp in the games against Tyumensky Legion. We played badly in the first game in Tyumen but we got lucky and won. And we had to play the second game literally just a few hours later. Because it was on a weekend, the game was scheduled for the afternoon. We have a short break right now. We had a short-term camp, prepared well for the next stage of the season and improved our physical conditions.
- Your rating was minus-30 last season and now you’re one of the leaders of the team with plus-9.
- Last season I made my JHL debut so I played with caution. I was afraid to make a mistake. Now it’s my graduation season. I play aggressively, often join the rushes and it leads to points. I gained confidence and it’s supported by my teammates.
“SKA-1946 players were selected as top players in October by JHL in every position,” said SKA-1946 St. Petersburg defenseman Grigory Gryaznov. “I don’t think it would have been possible if it weren’t for our team results, which outweigh all individual successes. We set a new JHL record for consecutive wins as we got our historical 21st victory in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. We came out for that game against Sakhailinskie Akuly as if it was a playoff bout, in which we couldn’t afford to make a mistake. Akuly were pumped up and entirely outplayed us in the first period. We spoke about it in the dressing-room and said that we shouldn’t make anyone force their game on us and by dominated by anybody. We pulled ourselves together and turned things around. Everyone was happy after the win. We’re all were hugging each other. Everybody knew it was than a regular win. It’s a record that will make JHL history. It’s going to be our heritage. Notably, it got easier in the next game. We were a bit more laidback, even though we agreed to treat every game as the one we’d set a record in. SKA-1946 had a short break after the road trip to Russia’s Far East. I practiced with junior Team Russia at the time. It was a very productive camp. The team is going to play at a tournament in Helsinki soon. After the tournament and the CIBC Series they will put together a team for the World Juniors. Russia has two pretty even teams right now so I’m full of desire to show what I’m capable of and earn a place on the World Juniors team.”
Q&A with Altay Ust-Kamenogorsk forward Stas Petrosyan
- This season you get a lot more points than before. What’s the secret behind such productivity?
- I’m a Cherepovets junior hockey school alumnus but I wasn’t getting a lot of ice-time on Almaz and it didn’t help my confidence. I knew that one little mistake can render me scratched. So I scored just 2 points in a couple of seasons with the team – 1 goal and 1 assist. Everything changed when I joined Altay. I get a lot of trust in Ust-Kamenogorsk. I play a lot of minutes and I’m the captain of the team. We got on the same page with head-coach Oleg Bolyakin right away. He knows for certain what my assets are and he uses them to fix my shortcomings.
- You spent the previous two seasons in NJHL. How difficult was it adjusting to JHL level?
- I spent a few seasons with Belgorod but I wouldn’t say that the level is drastically lower there. There are a lot of young players there as well who just wait for their chance. So it didn’t take me long to adjust. When I played for Belgorod I met Viktor Vasilievich Bogatyryov – he currently works for Altay-Torpedo. He was the one who invited me to Altay. Last year he worked with Bryansk in NJHL. We met after a game and stayed in touch. He promised to find me a team and he kept his word.
- And now you lead JHL in goals and points.
- I’m one of the oldest players on the team. This is my last year in JHL so I have to make a name for myself and lead teammates by example. Productivity is largely a 5-man unit effort. We found our chemistry and score points in every game. Oleg Vladimirovich lets us play for 25 minutes a game. With such great ice-time we just have to help the team. Although, the secret behind productivity lies in something different. The coach and I have a bit of a routine. Before the games I give him a little shoulder massage. It actually works. I didn’t do it for one game – we lost and I had just one assist. We resumed the tradition after that. Altay won and I scored a lot of points. He told me from the bench then, ‘Do you see it now?! It’s my angel shoulders that do the trick! That’s why you score!” (laughs). There’s another tradition. If German Shaporev or I score a goal, we kiss each other on the cheek. It’s an Armenian tradition. That’s what we usually do when we show respect as we greet someone.
- You scored your first JHL hat-trick in October.
- Interestingly enough, I scored it in the first game my parents came to. It was such a shock for me that they came over. I didn’t expect to see them in Ust-Kamenogorsk at all. We spoke on the phone and they told me they wouldn’t be able to come because of work. It was frustrating because everyone in my family has their birthdays in early October. Mine is on the 5th, my mom’s is on the 6th and my dad’s is on the 7th. It was sad that we couldn’t celebrate it together. I saw them when we pulled up to the rink. When I realized what was happening, I was so shocked that my hands even trembled. But I scored a hat-trick after that. It’s great to hear your parents from the stands. It’s such a pleasure. As for the hat-trick itself, I didn’t feel as emotional about it. After I all, I even scored four in one NJHL game.
- Last season you won Generation Cup. Do you aim to win JHL Challenge Cup?
- I don’t think about it yet. I just want Altay to stay high in the standings. If the coaches decide that I deserve to be invited, I’m going to be happy. Although, Team East is going to be coached by Omskie Yastreby’s Oleg Ugolnikov. I scored a hat-trick against them, so it’s likely they won’t invite me (laughs).
- Last season Altay were dead last in the table.
- Now we’re seen as a different team and it shows in attendance numbers. With every game there’s more fans in the stands. I’m certain that one day we’re going to get crowds just as large as in VHL.
- You made you VHL debut this season.
- We came back from the road and our team manager told me that I was called up to Torpedo. I got nervous and all sweaty. I didn’t even know what to say. I was very nervous in the warm-up. After all, I hadn’t played at such a level before. Once again I was afraid to make a mistake and our line yielded a goal by Tambov. After the game the coach told me he was going to continue call me up for practices.