About the League
Back in January Chayka Nizhny Novgorod forward Denis Pochivalov scored his first career KHL point. In this interview to Junior Hockey League public relations Pochivalov opens up about his time with Torpedo, first assist in the Kontinental Hockey League and working with Sandis Ozolins.
- You spent almost the entire last season in JHL, while this year you mostly divide your time between KHL and VHL.
- I keep following the junior team and my teammates. Sometimes I even come to Chayka games when our home stands coincide. I remember the games against Tolpar [Ufa]. We kept trailing behind in the first games but lost by just a goal. And in the next game we beat the top team of the East. Chayka continue to battle for the playoffs. It would be great to help the team in Kharlamov Cup playoffs. It would be my first time playing in JHL playoffs.
- You have played 12 games in the KHL already.
- I made my Torpedo debut last season but I played just two games back then. Actually, it was just one really. I spent almost the entire second game on the bench and played just one shift. This season I’m given way more ice-time. I’m given a chance to prove myself. Nizhny Novgorod has a great development system. That’s why there are several young players on the KHL team, who help battling for the playoffs. David Nemirovski’s coaching staff constantly gives us advice and give the right to make mistakes. But they do demand that we stick to the gameplan.
- What was the most memorable KHL game for you?
- There were several of those. First of all, I remember the game against Dynamo Moscow well. We won 6-3. It was quite a shootout! And, obviously, the game against Lokomotiv [Yaroslavl], in which I scored my first career KHL point. I picked it up on Sergei Goncharuk’s goal. It was just last season that we played against each other in JHL. I was with Chayka and he was with Atlant [Moscow Region]. It was very emotional because it was a home game against a key opponent. There were a lot of fans in the stands!
- Do you talk to young players mostly?
- I’m on good terms with everyone, except, perhaps, the imports because I don’t understand them. I don’t speak English but I don’t feel uncomfortable on the ice. I know elementary words and understand hockey terms.
- You scored your first career VHL goal. Why are still looking for one in KHL?
- In VHL I scored against Khimik [Voskresensk]. I tipped a shot from the blue line in front of the net. You need to have more confidence in KHL to score a goal. I don’t take a lot of shots. I focus on passing the puck more. Although, I did have a decent moment but I missed the net. It was frustrating.
- There are many famous coaches in Torpedo system. For instance, Igor Znarok – Oleg Znarok’s brother – is on Torpedo-Gorky coaching staff.
- He has something in common with his brother – the way he acts and his coaching style. I even called him Oleg Valerievich a few times at practice by mistake! I don’t think he heard me, though.
- One of David Nemirovski’s assistant is a legendary Latvian defenseman Sandis Ozolins.
- All Torpedo coaches played in the NHL – David Nemirovski and Artyom Chubarov, while Sandis went all the way to win the Stanley Cup, competed a few times in the finals and All-Star Games. So our coaches have a great experience playing at the highest level. Sandis mostly works with defensemen and since I’m a center I also have to get back on defense so he gives me a lot of advice. It’s a great experience.