02.08.2023 в 12:00

“We will prove that we are able to win the Kharlamov Cup.” Evgeny Volokhin – about Ugra, Atanasov and competition

The Ugra trainee had a breakthrough debut season in the JHL.

Evgeny Volokhin started playing hockey at the age of five and cherished a dream of being a goalie. Despite his parents trying to dissuade their son from choosing this position, Evgeny started playing goalie and producing good results. Solid performance of the netminder born in 2005 allowed him to make his JHL debut at the beginning of the 2022/23 season. Having jumped at the opportunity, he had a six-game winning streak. In total, Volokhin played 31 regular-season games and five playoff games. He was also nominated for the Rookie of the Year award.

In an interview with the official JHL website, Evgeny Volokhin talked about his successful debut season, Volokhin-Zavragin tandem and Russian spirit.

“The beginning of the season showed that teams from different divisions don’t differ that much in terms of their level”

– How is the training camp going?
– Everything is great, we are working really hard.

– Based on the regular-season results, you were nominated for the Rookie of the Year award, did it boost your motivation?
– Yes, sure! Extra motivation is always to the good. I believe, the nomination was well-deserved, since I really had quite a good season.

– Did you expect you would be a nominee?
– Actually, it came as a surprise to me, because there are so many good rookies in the League.

– Who can you name as one of them?
– Loko’s forward Yegor Surin born in 2006, he had quite a successful season. I will also name my teammate Alexander Shen, he was the leader in many of the games.

– You were reliable and solid in the net during your debut season, what helped you achieve such success?
– Self-improvement and corrections of mistakes, the team coach was of great help there. Emotional tension was also encouraging: emotions led me through my first games, since I had to show my worth in order to consolidate a position in Mamonty Ugry’s roster. Competition with Yegor Zavragin was also a motivating factor and it played its part. All these things combined together allowed me to play some good games and prove myself.

– Tell us more about Volokhin-Zavragin tandem.
– We had a young, close-knit group of goalies, we always stayed positive. There was one more goalie with us - Alexander Dyubin, who recently joined Krasnoyarskie Rysi. He is also ambitious, he kept working hard during practices to prove his worth. In competition with other netminders, I understood that I had to approve myself and show my stuff in order to continue playing games.

– Do you think it is possible to achieve good results when goalies are not on friendly terms with each other?
– No, I don’t think it’s possible, because staying positive during practices allows everyone to enjoy the work they are doing.

“The season that Mamonty Ugry won bronze medals, their bus got stuck by the hotel. The same thing happened to us in the latest playoffs”


– Are you a superstitious person?
– Yes, I believe, I am. There are some specific pregame rituals that I follow. I don’t think that failing to perform some ritual will make me play differently, but following them help me think of previous games and of why I am actually here.

– In Game 3 of the series against Belye Medvedi you stopped 45 shots, but your team suffered a 0-3 defeat. What do goalies feel after such games?
– I was really kept busy that night, but I could have played better in the episodes that led to allowing goals. The game was lost in the span of four and a half minutes, since we allowed 3 goals in the second period, while we were battling during the entire game. When we took the ice to play the third period with 0-3 on the scoreboard, it was a do-or-die situation for each of us.

– Closing out the series against Chaika in the second round, you made 42 saves and helped your team get a shootout win. Was that game memorable for you?
– Yes, it was a memorable game, because in the regular season we only managed to get one point in four games against Chaika, it was an overtime loss on the road. That playoff game was emotionally and physically draining, but we all remember that win.

– Did you analyze how Chaika forwards play shootout attempts before the series against them?
– Yes, just before the series against Chaika, the coach and I for some reason decided to check how Nizhny Novgorod forwards play shootout attempts, and it did help me in three out of five attempts. Nikita Artamonov, who had moved from Reaktor, played for them back then. I remembered him well from my third game in the JHL which was against the Nizhnekamsk team. They were awarded a penalty shot twice in the third period and Artamonov took one of them. I remembered that shot and when Nikita took the ice for the shootout attempt in the playoff series against Chaika, I already knew what to expect.

“The reason for such interest in Russian goalies in the international field is our Russian spirit and hockey IQ”

– You were selected by the Montreal Canadiens at the 2023 NHL Draft. Did you expect to get drafted?
– I talked to many of the teams, we had zoom meetings. There were three teams that showed a special interest in me. I knew that I would most likely get drafted, all I could do was wait. I texted my friends saying that I would be a fifth or sixth-round pick, I even said I would be 158th overall and it was quite a good guess (5th round, 144th overall - note). Of course, getting drafted feels nice, but the draft is just a check in the box that gives extra motivation to keep working hard.

– Montreal does not select Russian players too often. Did you know much about the Canadian club before you were drafted?
– I do follow the NHL. In most cases I watch highlights in the morning, because when they play games, it’s night time here. I knew a thing or two about the Montreal team, followed their goalies, especially Carey Price. Too bad that his era is now coming to an end, but he really worked miracles back in the day, I enjoyed watching him play when I was a kid. I am not in touch with any of the Russian players selected by Montreal, I don’t even know Bogdan Konyushkov personally, so I didn’t text him.

– The Carolina Hurricanes selected Ruslan Khazheyev who you played against in the first playoff round. What can you say about this goalie?
– In fact, our styles are completely different, so I am not his biggest fan. He had some good moments in the series against us, made some saves to give Belye Medvedi a chance to compete. But the mistake he made in Game 5 was paid dearly and his team failed to get into the quarterfinals.

– Your goalie tandem-mate Yegor Zavragin was also selected at the NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, how did you congratulate him?
– When I saw that Yegor got drafted, I was so happy for him. I didn’t text him anything at that moment, I just continued to watch the ceremony. And now, during the training camp, we jokingly say something to each other. When something happens on the ice, I tell Yegor: “Oh my… Philadelphia!”.

– Does the fact that both of the Mamonty Ugry’s goalies got drafted demonstrate the progress of the Khanty-Mansiysk goaltending school?
– Based on the number of good goalies, it is certain that our school is indeed one of the best in Russia. When I was with the school, my style and understanding of the game was different. Being with the JHL team, we made some adjustments together with the coach. I can’t say that we have changed something radically, but it helped me feel better playing at this level, because some things that are acceptable with the school, are punishable in the JHL.

– What is the reason for such interest in Russian goalies in the international field?
– The reason for such interest is our Russian spirit and hockey IQ. People born in Russia are hardened like no one else is.

“The way Ugra played against SKA in the KHL inspired me to boost my career”


– What things inspire you the most?
– First of all, family support, lack of which would make things way harder. My parents have always supported me in all my endeavors, including hockey. I also had a goalie I looked up to as a child - Pekka Rinne from Nashville. I compared myself to him because our styles were similar. I was inspired by the way he played to give his team chances to win.

– What do you usually do when you are not playing hockey?
– I like playing other sports. When I was eight, I played some soccer. Being quite a tall guy, I enjoy playing volleyball and basketball. And I also like playing billiards (smiles).

– Did you play goalkeeper?
– No, I played forward (smiles).

– And how did you become a hockey goalie?
– When I joined the hockey school at the age of five, I really wanted to become a goalie. My parents tried to dissuade me from choosing this position, they kept asking me what I needed it for and I kept telling them that it was my dream. So, they told me to give it a shot since it was something I was dreaming about. That was how I became a goalie. In hindsight, I think that being a skater is easier (smiles). Goalies are quite a different breed. As many forwards say: “A goalie, what else is there to tell?” We are a little different from ordinary people.

– Why did you cherish a dream of being a goalie?
– During practices we took turns to wear goalie equipment, that was when I put my mind to trying to play goalie, but I didn’t get a chance to wear that equipment. One day, however, the goalie coach approached me during a practice and told me to do the splits, which I did and that’s how it all got started.

– Do you plan to get your goalie mask painted?
– I could do that, but I don’t see the point. Solid performance is way more important, while customized masks and pads are secondary things.

– What’s the story behind number 88 that you wear?
– Being a kid, when I started playing hockey as a forward, I knew that I would pick either 8 or 88, they simply seemed to be nice numbers to me. At that time, number 8 was already taken, so I picked 88 and have been wearing it since then.

– If you could meet any person, past or present, who would it be and what would you ask him or her?
– I would love to meet my idol Pekka Rinne and ask him what he does to play goalie that great.