Alexander Nikulin's Blog Part II
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10-09-2007, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Dump-ins still aren’t my thing.
October 9, 2007.
I’m living in the USA now, where Ottawa’s farm team is located. The move went rather smoothly. Ilja Zubov and I were provided with a car and a driver and we were on our way to where the team was. Got there in four hours, crossing the border was quick. Just checked our passports.
Didn’t really need to get used to the new group much. The same guys that were at the prospects camp are here. I know them all so it was easy getting into it. Ilja Zubov and I were given a hotel room, but in about two weeks we’ll move to a rented room or house. Binghamton is a small town, it’s hard to say what the population here is. Probably not more than of Cherepovets. But overall good impressions: it’s a compact, quiet town. A five-storey building is the tallest.
But the arena here is beautiful, seats five thousand spectators. No qualms regarding locker rooms, either. Everything’s like it is in Ottawa. The training process is set up well with either team.
The only serious trouble is the lack of sticks I played with all my life. The last one I broke back during a preseason game with the Senators. I have to use others. At the farm you can play either with CCM or Reebok stick. Good sticks, but I’d rather play with my own. Should have them delivered this week.
The first game of the AHL season we played against Albany, Carolina’s farm team. We lost 3-1. Again I was struck by the speeds. They skate faster than in the NHL here. Perhaps in the major league the thought process is bigger. After all, the level of players there is higher. The first period and a half I was just getting into the game. And was not happy with myself, and the coach had cause for criticism, too.
He commented that everything was good, as usual, but then stated that some things need to change in my game. The main problem is that I skate too much. Which is true, and in the third period I made a mistake because of that which led to a goal being scored on us. We pulled the goalie, I went in as the sixth skater. And I skated past a player in our zone who then made a pass and we were scored on. My fault. But, on the other hand, CSKA’s Vyacheslav Bykov asked different things of me. I had to maintain the speed, always remain mobile. It’s tough to switch right away. I won’t totally change my style, but I must adapt. I must really get used to the relentless collisions. And these constant dump-ins from every position are also not my thing.
But in this game our line also scored the lone goal. It was Ilja Zubov, who was moved to the wing. We played out a good power play setup. By the way, we’re often out on the power play, but rarely for the penalty kill.
I’m gradually learning English. I’m attempting to speak for myself. The club’s manager approached Ilja and I and told us Tuesday they’ll assign a tutor to us and we’ll begin studying the language seriously. For now, though, I can only say several phrases. I can ask where my sticks are. How to perform a given exercise. Understand a lot.
We have a good team. I’m told the club played poorly last year. But this time we should finish in a better position. There are lots of fine hockey players here: forwards Tyler Donati and Jim McKenzie, goaltender Jeff Glass.
There’s also another player from Eastern Europe, a Czech defenseman Tomas Kudelka. He knows a Russian counting rhyme:
Raz, dva, tri, chetyre, pyat’ — vyshel zaichik pogulyat’
. And some other words. It’s all right, I’m sure with time he’ll have a large vocabulary.
Monday was Columbus Day in the US, a national holiday. There’s music everywhere, fairs. But most likely we’ll just stay in and relax. Because we don’t have days off, every day we either practice or play. Have to conserve the energy. I’m still not losing heart, despite being sent down to the farm team. I believe it will be easier to adapt to the North American style of play here, to understand what is being asked of me, to learn.
Last edited by ThirtyFive: 01-02-2008 at
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