International Ice Hockey Federation

Valeri Nichushkin profile

Valeri Nichushkin profile

Russian captain heating up in time for playoffs

Published 26.04.2013 17:52 GMT+4 | Author Alexander Yakobson
Valeri Nichushkin profile
Nichushkin is ranked second overall in the NHL's Central Scouting Service Rankings for European players. Photo: Francois Laplante / HHOF-IIHF Images.
The captain of the Russian junior team, Valeri Nichushkin, has had a busy few months, making a seamless jump from the MHL to become a top player for Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL at only 18.

A teenager playing in a league of men, he played well enough to take second place in final ranking among all European players before the National Hockey League draft.

Arriving in Sochi for the U18s after losing in the final of Gagarin cup against Dynamo Moscow in six games, Nichushkin didn't start out as well as hoped. He made only two assists in three game of the preliminary round while teammates Pavel Buchnevich, Vladimir Tkachyov, and Ivan Barbashev took over the scoring duties for Russia.

But in the quarter-final game against Germany, he woke up and registered a hat trick, and will hope to do the same against the Americans in the semi-final. He hopes to continue to build his international career, on the heels of scoring the game-winning goal against Canada at the 2013 IIHF U20 World Championship in Ufa. sat down with the Russian captain ahead of his team’s semi-final clash with USA. Playing in the KHL playoffs for the first time ever with his club Traktor Chelyabinsk, Nichushkin admitted that the long playoff season took a toll on his body.

“Probably, I was a little bit tired, that's why I didn't play as good as I can,” said Nichushkin with a smile. “Playoff in KHL have been non-stop since march, two games in a row, two days off in a row and after this again two matches.”

“There is no time to breathe. The main goal is to win, it doesn't matter if I score or not. For sure, hockey is not something where the success of one person is crucial. The main thing is that the team wins.”

Have you expected to play in the same season  in MHL and later in the final of Gagarin Cup?

“I had this desire. But I could not believe that i will play so many in the first team. I just wanted to get there. There are a few days in the season: it is necessary to fight for gold. Especially, I have bronze of World Juniors and silver of KHL too.”

From you as KHL's player do coaches ask  more?

“I'm put a lot of demand on myself. Coach doesn't pressure on me."

Does increased attention of fans and the press to the team and personally for you make difficult?

“I do not read anything. In the Czech Republic at the World Junior last year there was feeling that we play, and no one was looking. And now there is a huge attention. But this is also experience. Although it is unusual.”

What are your plans for the holidays?

“It is too early to think about it, first it is necessary to take the gold. And so - I'll go get some rest in Turkey. And then go to North America, where I plan to train all summer. Also I will go to the draft ceremony.”

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