The forward will seek to become a full-time player of Metallurg coached by Andrei Razin.
The 2022/23 season will continue until the end of May for Stalnye Lisy leader Roman Kantserov. The forward of the Metallurg system was called up to the national junior team to prepare for the Future Cup. The tournament will be held in Minsk and is scheduled for May 27-30. The forward became the top scorer of the Magnitogorsk team with 54 (27+27) points in 45 games, won the Challenge Cup, qualified for the KHL All-Star Game and made his KHL debut.
In the interview with the JHL website, the forward shared his thoughts of the results of the JHL season, his individual statistics, being eliminated in the first round of playoffs by Ufa Tolpar and talked about his holiday plans.
– How is the Russian team preparing for the Future Cup in Minsk?
– We are practicing on and off the ice. The training loads are gradually increasing, but ice practices have been hard. We are divided into two teams that skate one after another, and we workout in the gym all together.
– Is it a pity that Vadim Lukin from Stalnye Lisy is on a different team?
– Just a little.
– Will you be playing hard against your teammate or will you try to be more careful?
– A game is a game. I will play physically if the situation requires it. The only thing that matters is for everyone to avoid injuries.
– Aren’t you tired of hockey with such a busy season?
– I might have minor fatigue, no big deal. We are now with the national team. We are here to play in the tournament against Belarus. It’s always nice to make it to the national team. After the tournament, we will have some time to get rested and switch our mind off hockey.
– Is the Future Cup a part of the new season or continuation of the previous one?
– I think, it is somewhere in between. It sort of ends the previous season, but kind of starts the new one at the same time. Funny thing.
– Is being called up to the national team a new experience for you?
– Last year, I was with the junior team for the Black Sea Cup. Guys born in 2003 and 2004 played back then, this year players born in 2004 and 2005 were called up to the team. I was expecting to receive a call-up and was ready for it.
– So, you didn’t actually have time to set your mind on vacation, did you?
– I actually didn’t. I just saw my friends a couple of times. Then I started practicing a week before joining the team, I was mainly working out in a gym, and skated too. We had discussed the program with the Metallurg conditioning coach. I wanted to join the national team being in good shape.
– How long did it take you to recover from being eliminated in the first round of playoffs by Tolpar?
– Obviously it was a very unpleasant experience. We were eliminated by Tolpar through my fault. Losing Game 1 in our barn was the first mistake we made. We can say that Tolpar was in better game shape, but these are just excuses. It appears that we were not fully prepared. In Game 3, I tied it, and then delivered a hit which was not too good. The referees called an illegal check to the head. The opponent had his head down while I was moving towards the puck. It happened the way it happened. I was suspended one game. It was downright unpleasant. Our team was having a hard time without Innokenty Rybin, Kirill Zhukov and me in the lineup. Tolpar outmuscled and outperformed us. It was a tough loss indeed.
– Did you frequently rewatch the hit that earned suspension?
– No, I just watched it once after the game. The following day, Stanislav Andreevich Shumik told me off during the team meeting. I didn’t do the right thing in that episode. It’s very unpleasant, but it is what it is.
– It was uncharacteristic of you to deliver such a hit. Was it a mere accident?
– Maybe. But one must be able to give and receive body checks and respect the rules.
– What were you thinking about on your way to the locker room?
– I felt guilty towards my team, I let the coaches and the guys down. I apologized to the guys right away. I told them it was my fault and I would do everything to win the following game and capture the series. But unfortunately, it was never to happen, I was suspended.
– What was tougher – being eliminated by Tolpar or by Omskie Yastreby in the second round a year ago?
– Losing to Yastreby was really tough. We had an awful third period, even though we played well in the first two. It wasn’t hockey-like. We dictated the game for 40 minutes, and allowed stupid goals in the third period. In overtime, there were video reviews, shootout, a controversial goal when everyone believed the player was offside. Well, later it became clear it had been a good goal. Whatever happened, happened. That loss was extremely frustrating. It took me somewhere about two months to recover from it.
– How did you deal with emotional stress?
– I didn’t do anything special. I came to terms, bowed to the reality and moved on.
– Didn’t you want to quit and forget about hockey?
– As the phrase goes, there are five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I passed through all of them. Some time later, I realized that it was already a thing of the past. I needed to keep working to prepare for the following season. This year, we also got bitter experience. We are to advance as far as possible in the playoffs in the upcoming season. Being eliminated in the first and second rounds, no way, no way!
– Do you really think that the Challenge Cup, the KHL All-Star Game, great individual stats can be called bitter experience?
– The regular season was pretty successful. I came off to a good start and kept playing consistently. I played at the Challenge Cup, scored a goal. Made it to the KHL All-Star Game and had a great time there. When Danila Yurov got injured, I was called up to the main team. Of course, the KHL differs from the JHL: you are not expected to play fancy, you need to play simple and strong. But I wasn’t getting much ice time from Ilya Petrovich Vorobyov. I played five shifts against Sibir, but, apparently, I was not ready for such speed and pace of the game. I think I could play 10-12 minutes against Sochi, not the entire game maybe, but two periods at least.
– Did you understand what components you didn’t match to KHLers in?
– KHLers are big and fast. I knew that I needed to skate very fast in order to be ahead of an opponent. When I hit the ice for my first shift, I realized the speed of the KHL. I believe, I had never skated that fast before. I felt that guys played really physically. I was to keep balance and make faster decisions. There is one episode I vividly remember. I received the pass along the half-wall and saw my teammates rushing forward. I panicked and dumped the puck. As a result, an opponent gained possession of it. Later I realized that I should had played calm and kept a cool head. The KHL does require quick decision-making.
– How many times did you touch the puck in five shifts?
– I did control the puck. I think I touched it four times or so.
– You even made a shot on goal!
– Right you are. We allowed a goal late in the third period and I was on the ice for the face-off with nine seconds to go in the game. I managed to take a shot from the blue line, but it didn’t happen to be dangerous. The goalie was ready.
– In the 2022/23 season, everyone was waiting for Kantserov to be called up to the KHL team. Were you looking forward for it to happen?
– I surely was. I saw news about other players being called up to the main teams. The guys of my age or even younger were making their KHL debut. I kept working on myself. The coaches kept telling me to stay patient and keep working hard. It was a situation waiting to happen. There’s a time for everything. I kept practicing and working, and received a call-up. I gained new experience, realized that the KHL game is much faster. This year I was not all ready to spend the whole season with the main team.
– Did you feel jittery when you took the ice for a rookie lap before your first game in Magnitogorsk?
– No, I didn’t. Team captain Yegor Yakovlev supported me. He told me to take the ice for a rookie lap, it was not a big deal, but still a nice experience. I did take a rookie lap, but there was no actual debut. That’s a pity. I also asked for a puck to make some shots.
– Do you feel bad about failing to win the JHL scoring race?
– I used to think about the scoring race in the beginning when I was ranked high. Then I missed a few games. I played five games fewer than everyone else. The scoring race became of little importance. I tried to be consistent and keep scoring points. I wanted to improve my stats year after year. I failed to do so, since I have played fewer games.
– But you did follow the scoring race, didn’t you?
– It was on social media news all the time. I wonder how many assists Kirill Pukelo has, he scored as many points as Ivan Demidov with 62 points in 41 games.
– You scored 27 goals and were credited with 27 assists. How do you manage to have such a goals-to-assists ratio?
– Simple as that, when it’s better to give a pass, I do it, when I have a scoring chance, I take responsibility and make a shot on goal. Of course, I don’t get to convert on each scoring chance. I had many chances that were not converted on.
– Are you more of a goal scorer or a playmaker?
– I am more of a goal scorer. I really enjoy scoring goals. Nikolai Alexandrovich Lemtyugov kept telling us: “It is a bad forward that does not want to score goals.”
– Such well-rounded players are valuable assets for scouts.
– Maybe. But scouts look for various skills in a hockey player: defensive play, stickhandling, receiving hard passes, blocking shots, body checking.
– What was the hardest thing for you during your minor-to-junior transition?
– When Denis Aleksandrovich Platonov called us up to the junior team, he gave us many pointers on the things that were not explained at the school. For example, how to manipulate space in the offensive zone by proper positioning, how to pass and bank puck off boards, and so on. Those were some minor but important details explained to us. It made the change easier. At first, I felt that the speed was higher compared to the minor level. I got used to it with the passing of time. That’s how one gets adjusted to a new level, let’s say the KHL, it just takes time and effort.
– What skills do you need to improve in order to conform to the KHL level?
– I need to develop my game intelligence, including the speed of decision-making: when to give a pass, and when, on the contrary, to keep the puck. I also need to improve my skating speed, of course. I need to be better at wall plays so as not to be outmuscled by big defensemen. I also need to pay attention to defensive play, shot power and accuracy. Shooting is something where there is always room for improvement.
– How do you work on your shot?
– Like everybody else. I practice on and off the ice, work both on forehand and backhand shots. Not all the passes in the game are pinpoint. You are to be able to make a shot in any situation from any position.
– I know that you are now taking care of your university studies. What degree do you pursue?
– I study at Magnitogorsk State Technical University to pursue a degree in physical education teaching. I’m in my second year now. I try to study responsibly and do all my homework. If I start asking for granting me an exam pass without sitting the exam just because I am a hockey player, it will do no good to professors’ attitude towards me. Professors and fellow students must be treated with respect. Anything can happen. An exam might be scheduled for the day when I am on the road with my team. In such case, I ask for it to be rescheduled or tested-out.
– Does studying come easy to you?
– It depends. I can’t say studying is too hard. I just have to be mindful of studies, so as not to do everything at the last moment. I have my laptop with me in Novogorsk. I do my homework in my spare time. Summer examination period will start soon. I have already passed some exams, the rest will be taken in the summer. I have no academic deficiencies.
– What do you need education for?
– Education is important for my future. Stalnye Lisy had a meeting with the head of department who told us about different areas of study. I decided to pursue a degree in Education, passed the Unified State Exam and university qualifying exams. Now I’m in my second year.
– I assume, you didn’t skip school, did you?
– I didn’t. When I was a kid, my mom encouraged me to do my homework and be mindful of studying. I developed the habit of never putting off till tomorrow what can be done today.
– Do your parents attend games?
– Yes, of course! My mom and dad attend all the games. And my younger brother and grandmothers join them when they get the chance.
– Do your parents know what’s what in hockey?
– They do, as amateurs. My dad knows a little more, but mom says the right things as well. She can reprimand gently for underperformance and praise for winning. But she always tells me we are doing good job.
– Are there any blamestorming sessions held?
– No. Being at home, you are to get rested and switch your mind off hockey. Everything is discussed at the rink with the coaches. While home is the place where you are to eat well and be surrounded with care.
– Metallurg has a new head coach. Have you met Andrei Razin?
– Yes, we have met and talked. He evaluated junior players at the end of March, when he arrived in Magnitogorsk. We played two scrimmage games. Andrei Vladimirovich visited our locker room. He told us he wanted to see us play serious adult hockey. He had individual meetings with several players, including me. He told me that he had heard a lot about me, that I needed to prepare for the season because JHL record was to put to the side, thus I would need to be fully ready in the summer when the training camp starts. He asked me to make good use of the free time before the preseason.
– How long will you rest when you return from the national team?
– I won’t actually have too much time to rest. I need to take care of my studies – I am to take exams. I might be able to go out of town for a little while. In any case, I need a couple of weeks to get rested. At the end of June, I will start preparing for the training camp. I am still eligible for the junior team, maybe I will start the preseason with Stalnye Lisy. It hasn’t been discussed yet.
– How do you usually rest from hockey and studying if you get to have some free time?
– I go swimming in order to avoid back problems and heal old injuries. Last year I had a problem with my foot and putting on the skate was painful. My body was telling me: “That’s it, enough of hockey for now.” When I get to have some free time, I switch my mind off hockey. I can go to Bannoye Lake or take a walk in Chelyabinsk or Ekaterinburg.
– Do you prefer outdoor activities or sunbathing on a beach?
– I like outdoor activities better. Movement is life, and life is movement! I don’t like sitting around doing nothing. I always find something to keep myself busy with.
Kantserov Roman Kamilevich
Born on September 20, 2004 in Magnitogorsk
From 2010 – Magnitogorsk Metallurg
2022 Challenge Cup winner
2022 KHL All-Star Game participant