Chelyabinsk Traktor’s prospect talks about the 2022/23 season that he spent playing in three leagues.
In the 2022/23 season, 18-year-old Alexander Rykov played for Traktor and its two affiliates, but sustained an injury that prevented him from having a full season. Despite this, Rykov managed to play 20 games for Chelmet from the VHL and score 11 (4+7) points, four games for Belye Medvedi, including one playoff game, and six games for Traktor.
About goals for the 2023/24 season and playing for three teams – in an interview with the official JHL website.
– How did you start playing hockey?
– My dad signed me up for hockey when I was three. I have been playing it since then. I used to dislike it at first, I just didn’t want to play hockey. I was a little kid and used to shed tears on our way to practices, but later, when I was seven or eight, I developed a taste for hockey.
– Isn’t it too early to start a kid on a path to playing hockey at three?
– It is early indeed, but my parents did not understand it back then. They saw some kids playing hockey and decided to sign me up for it too.
– Did you consider playing any other sport?
– My dad used to box and play some soccer, he has always been and remains a sporting man. But I started with playing hockey and came to enjoy it.
– How old were you when you moved from Magnitogorsk to Chelyabinsk? Was it a tough decision?
– The first time I went to Chelyabinsk for one season was when I was a second-grader, but then I returned to Magnitogorsk. Having spent two seasons there, I moved to Traktor again, to work with the coach I knew, it was he who offered me to join them. I was traded for three players.
– Did your parents move to Chelyabinsk too?
– Yes, they did. And when I went back to Magnitogorsk, they stayed in Chelyabinsk. I was staying at my grandparents’ place back then.
– Did you feel sad being far away from your parents? Tell us about your family.
– Well, I felt fine, every evening we talked on the phone for at least one hour, I sort of presented daily reports. Of course, having parents close is way better, my dad could give some valuable pointers. But they used to visit me every weekend: it’s a three-hour drive from Chelyabinsk to Magnitogorsk. My parents devote much time to work. I have an eight-year-old brother who is with a private hockey school. He practices individually and does not attend a hockey school. I also started with individual practices and joined the school later. My parents always help me, we are a sporting family.
– Do you help your brother, maybe you lead some practices?
– My busy schedule leaves almost no chance for that. I do give him some pointers and sometimes we get to practice together.
– What do you usually do when you are not playing hockey?
– I like outdoor activities: playing some soccer or shooting some hoops, going fishing with other hockey players, taking a walk.
– You sustained an injury and didn’t get to play many games in the 2022/23 season. Did you miss playing hockey?
– Traktor provided me with a rehabilitation therapist, he was working with me. Now everything is fine: I practice, skate. There was a great amount of work done by the conditioning coach. You really miss playing hockey at a time like this. It is fair to say that being unable to play my favorite game of hockey did make me feel down.
– You are now taking part in Chelmet’s training camp. Do you plan to spend the 2023/24 season in the VHL?
– I started with the VHL, and on July 24 I will join Traktor, that’s when they will get back to work. And the rest depends on whether I will be able to prove my worth.
– You made your KHL debut in the 2022/23 season. How did it feel?
– I was filled with inexpressible emotions. I felt a little jittery, the crowd was loud, the atmosphere was great. I was looking forward to hit the ice for my first shift. And when it happened, I felt so happy, plus I played on the first line with the leaders of the team, Burdasov gave up his spot to me (laughs).
– What did you feel sitting on the bench and waiting to get some ice time?
– You have to stay focused and fully ready, which is tough. You do not play in the first period and sit all cold. Then the coach tells you to warm up and lets you play. When you finally hit the ice, it gives an incredible energy and motivation boost.
– In the 2022/23 season, you played for Traktor and its two affiliates. Is it hard to play when your linemates often change?
– Yes, it’s not as easy as it might seem. It happened that having played in the VHL, I was sent to the KHL the following day, and then back to the VHL again. This happened several times, it was tough. But the good thing is that you get a chance to gain valuable experience everywhere.
– What league do you feel more comfortable playing in?
– I feel comfortable everywhere, I am able to find common ground with everyone.
– Why do you think Traktor failed to reach the playoffs in the 2022/23 season?
– The team got off to a rocky start, lost many games, woke up by the middle of the regular season, started getting points, but it was already too late.
– What are your goals for the 2023/24 season?
– My goal is to become a full-time player of Traktor, play games for them. I am to work really hard and the rest will take care of itself. I need to improve all the aspects: conditioning, stickhandling and skating skills.
– In the summer of 2023, you participated in the NHL draft. What did you feel when you got drafted?
– I was glad, except that I hoped to be picked sooner, but it is what it is. I am happy with the team that selected me, they have many Russian guys on the roster. It will probably be a Russian team. I believe, their general manager loves Russian players.
– How did you like the event itself, the atmosphere?
– It was first-class. Fans are great, they approach players, ask for autographs. They are so passionate about hockey. The arena was fully packed, the ticket cost about 20 thousand rubles. And that’s for seeing hockey players go on the stage and put on their jerseys.
Rykov Alexander Sergeevich
Born on July 14, 2005 in Magnitogorsk
2012-2013 – Magnitogorsk Metallurg
2013-2014 – Chelyabinsk Traktor
2014-2018 – Magnitogorsk Metallurg
From 2018 – Chelyabinsk Traktor