MHL Future Stars: Valeri Nichushkin

MHL Hockey is proud to present Valeri Nichushkin. Average fans never heard his name, but trainers and experts are already familiar with the Chelyabinsk talent's surname.  

An impressive size compared with his age, good technique and a great sniper talent make him a great forward, even if still very young. The 14 years old will play this year with one year older boys in Traktor-94 team. It looks like he outgrew his co-aged, in all senses. MHL Hockey offers you a translation of Valeri's interview with Olesya Uslova.

- You are a true recordman. Tell us about your achievements.

- I've beaten the record for points scored in the Ural – Western Siberia region with 127, 87 goals and 40 assists.

- And who was the holder of the precedent record?

-It was set three years ago by Metallurg-92's Daniil Apalkov.

- They congratulated with you? Any special celebration?

- No, I've just reading something on some local newspaper. And all.

- How could you score so many goals?

- I don't know. I've tried playing my way. My team mates helped me too.

- How did you play in the precedent season?

- I've spent half year with Ak Bars Kazan, in that half season I scored 70 points.

- And which zone is harder to play in? Volga Region or Ural-Western Siberia?

- The Ural one is harder.

- Do you think you'll be able to beat your own record this year?

- I'll try. But this season the aim is to reach the national finals. I'll try to score as much as possible to help my team. My aim for this season is to become a better team player.

- Tell us how you arrived to hockey. Did your parents bring you?

- Yes, through some people they knew. They brought me to the Traktor school.

- And did you like hockey since the first day or did you have some troubles?

- I could skate well. Then all started to work and so I started liking it and then I've started playing seriously.

- Who was your first coach?

- Viktor Nikolaevich Vetshev. He left Traktor-95 only one year ago.

- Did you start playing as forward?

- Yes.

- And how old were you, when for the first time your sniper talent reached a noticeable status?

- I was 9 or 10, when I started playing in tournaments.

- And in those tournaments you were the top scorer?

- Sometimes I didn't break the top-three, but I always got some award. Almost in every tournament I got player of the match honors.

- And which prizes they usually presented?

- Cups. When I was a child usually caps or jerseys. Even sticks.

- Is this what drives you to score a lot?

- No, I don't think about that when I am on the ice. But there were games in which I was saying to myself “I have to score, score” and all I got is that I couldn't score at all.

- What's your record for most goals scored in one game?

- This year, eight. Earlier, I don't remember...more than ten I think.

- Which is the goal you remember the best?

- When I used to play for Ak Bars we participated to the Nicklas Lidstrom tournament, in Sweden. There I scored the game winning goal on the overtime, and we won the match and the tournament.

- How did you move to Ak Bars?

- They invited me. I came.

- Do you like how is it going with Traktor?

- Now all is good. I play with the team one year older than me. I'm satisfied about everything: the coach, the team mates...

- Will you play the whole season with Traktor-94?

- Yes.

- Is it more interesting to play with the 94 team?

- Yes, it's more intense.

- And for you the 95 is boring already?

- No, why? It's interesting there too. You get more chances, it's easier to score. With 94 it's more important to play as a team, playing individually is harder.

- Do you often try to win games alone?

- I used to do so. Now it depends on the game's moment. If I see a team mate open, I give him the puck, if he's not open then I try to do things by myself.

- Are you the team's tallest player?

- No, Alexei Filippov is taller than me. He's 190, I'm 189.

- Where does this come from? Parents?

- Maybe from my father, he's 190.

- Do you think you'll further grow?

- I think I'll grow taller, but the most important thing is to get some mass.

- Do you plan becoming a pro?

- I'm trying hard. It's my aim.

- Do you have a sport dream?

- To win the Gagarin Cup.

- With which team?

- Anyone.

- For example with Traktor?

- The important is to reach the first team within the next two years.

- Do you think about the NHL?

- No, not for now. I want to get something in Russia.

- Do you dream about the national team?

- Yes, I want to get this year already into the 94 national team. I'll try hard, maybe they'll call me.

- For example, you look the WC on the television and dream about being yourself a member of team Russia?

- Exactly. Any kid dreams about getting into the national team.

- Which are your favorite players?

- I like Alexander Ovechkin, his character and how he points the net. Sidney Crosby, he is an intelligent player, Jaromir Jagr, despite his age he's a great player. And I like many other players.

- Do you try to imitate them in something?

- Especially in shoot-outs. I often look them and then I try to replicate during the trainings.

- And who's the best shoot-out taker?

- Sidney Crosby, I like his technique a lot.

- Did you ever suffer from serious injuries?

- In Kazan I started getting some little trouble with knees. They almost decided to send me back to Chelyabinsk. Then I met Traktor's main doctor Vadim Chupa, he gave me some exercises to do and all was better.

- Have you been in many Russian cities?

- Yes, I've been to many of them. Usually during the season I spend more time traveling than at home.

- And have you been abroad too?

- In the Czech Republic, in Sweden. I liked a lot Sweden. It was a good trip, the tournament was great. It's beautiful down there. We went by bus to St. Petersburg, then to Finland and we got to Sweden after a further trip by boat, that lasted one night. That New year eve was really fun. The houses were beautiful and there wasn't trash on the streets.

- Aren't you scared not to be able to play into men hockey?

- Sometimes, but I try not to think about that. I train and give the hundred percent during games. And for now I never got any abatement.

- Do you have other activities outside of hockey? Any other passion?

- No, basically only hockey.

- Do you have a non-hockey dream?

- Not yet. I have to finish the school and get into the university.

- And what will you study there?

- I don't know, haven't thought yet. I absolutely need the highest education, hockey doesn't last forever.

Final note: After 10 games played, Valeri has 16 points in 10 games, with 11 goals. Of course he's his team's top scorer and among the league's top contributors.


October's best players under the lens

Resuming the first two months of MHL play, sports.ru wrote about the performances of its best actors – the prosecutors of Ivannikov's and Zavarzin's dinasty, the new gem of Magnitogorsk school and the Soldier admirer of Nicklas Lidstrom.

Vladimir Zavarzin

Team: Feniks Voskresensk

Age: 20

Role: Forward

Height: 6'3”

Weight: 220

The son of the popular Torpedo Yaroslavl forward Viktor Zavarzin, usually played with number 89 – the same of his birth year. He played in the junior systems of Dinamo, CSKA and Krylya Sovetov, and when he was 13 he moved from defense to attack, and was invited to play into a tournament by a team from Detroit. He spent two years there, but then he missed home too much and once got the passport he got back to Russia. His favorite players are Pavel Bure and Alexander Ovechkin (because of their hands' quickness and skating's speed) and he spends his free time surfing the internet, going to the movies or simply having a walk. Once he used to hit the ice for a game always with the right skate first, but now he stopped.

Nikita Tochitsky

Team: SKA-1946 St. Petersburg

Age: 18

Role: Forward

Height: 6'2”

Weight: 167

A graduate of St. Petersburg's hockey, son of SKA's GM Andrei Tochitsky, either being under the shadow of his dad or being him a kind of a hiding person because of his born during the year of the goat (according to Chinese calendar – ASR) avoided the attention of the press, conform to his zodiac sign. He grew a magnificent, lion-like head of hair, plays with the number 91 – the same as his year of birth. St. Petersburg's fans think that in spite his age and his not big size he might well be the leader of the local junior team. He is a disciplined player who rarely gets penalized and is able to constantly point the opponent crease and got the trust of his coach as shoot out taker.

Vladimir Repin

Team: CSKA-Krasnaya Armiya

Age: 20

Role: Defenseman

Height: 6'2”

Weight: 216

He started playing hockey at 9, starting to skate later than his co-aged in “Silver Sharks”. He was then invited in CSKA, where he was tried as d-man because of his height and size. He's an admirer of Denis Kulyash and Nicklas Lidstrom, but they aren't his idols, he wants to looks like himself only. He's always ready watching video of any kind of sport but chess and thinks that hockey is a sport for men, but doesn't hold any grudge against women hockey. His style of play is something similar to “get the puck off the opposition and give it to the nearest team mate”. He wants to become a successful player and a good man. He methodically studied shoot-outs in the last four years and now he's pretty good in this hockey fundamental.

Evgeny Ivannikov

Team: SKA-1946 St. Petesburg

Age: 18

Role: Goalkeeper

Height: 5'11”

Weight: 160

The son of the famous Soviet goalie Valeri Ivannikov first hit the ice on skates when he was only three and he wanted to become a netminder against his father's wishes. He spent most of his childhood with in-line skates and a stick, his first idol was his dad and now he sympathizes for Semen Varlamov, Evgeny Nabokov and Martin Brodeur. Before of his first chance in hockey he played football and basketball. Despite his famous name he wants to reach success by himself only and in order to get that one needs to individually work. He never played for the national team but he is ready to work hard to earn a call.

Ilya Bozhdaev

Team: SKA-1946 St. Petersburg

Age: 19

Role: Defenseman

Height: 6'2”

Weight: 190

He started playing hockey at 6 in Ufa, then he moved to St. Petersburg at 18. He is respectful towards the opponents, but plays very physically. Among the popular players he likes Darius Kasparaitis. He likes to watch many kind of sports on TV: football, basketball, boxing, MMA. His favorite basketball players are Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. He likes a lot St. Petersburg, loves walking along the Nevsky Prospekt, the parks or simply watching at the bridges by night. He likes all sort of music, but more than everything he likes rock. His life dream is to become a good man and to help his parents; he'll try hard to learn from the best ones with the aim to overcome them.

Ildar Telyakov

Team: SKA-1946 St. Petersburg

Age: 18

Role: Defenseman

Height: 6'10”

Weight: 216

A graduate of St. Petersburg hockey school, his first trainer has been Valeri Tsalpanov. He has been brought to hockey by his parents when he was seven, before he was a tennis player and a swimmer. Once he gave a demonstration of hockey skills during a training with basketball players. Since then he never tried any kind of sport but hockey. He's a classic defenseman: he rarely joins the rush, because of his huge size he has some coordination problem. His idol is Zdeno Chara, he likes Sergei Zubov and Alexei Petrov's style and from the childhood his most uncomfortable opponents are Almaz from Cherepovets. He likes listening to jazz music and going to the cinema, where his favorite movies are war and horror ones. He likes theater too. His favorite celebrations are the New Year's day and his birthday.

Airat Ziazov

Team: Reaktor Nizhnekamsk

Age: 18

Role: Forward

Height: 5'10”

Weight: 215

He's a graduate of Nizhnekamsk hockey school and the author of the first hat trick by a Reaktor player in the MHL. His astrological sign is Aquarius, curiously enough the same as another one who had big success with reactors, the fisic Lev Landau. He's a follower of the principle: “don't have any idol” as he thinks that any man should remain himself. He plays for the fans, when there is a big crowd on the stands the emotions grew bigger. He gives credit to his team mates for his achievements and also thinks that the result of his team are more important than any individual statistic. He thinks Bars Kazan as the most dangerous opponents and regarding the MHL he said that the league should work over its attendance.

Stanislav Bocharov 

Team: Bars Kazan

Age: 18

Role: Forward

Height: 5'11”

Weight: 190

His parents – hockey fans – brought him to the hockey school when he was just five and he started playing in Khabarovsk with guys one year older than him and he had some trainings run by Alexander Mogilny. He played until he was 15 in the Amur youth system, then he moved to Kazan, and he played not only for Ak Bars, but also for Neftyanik Almetievsk. He tries hard creating his own style, but he likes Ilya Kovalchuk. He constantly plays for the junior national teams, was born on the same day as Pavel Datsyuk. He likes to do tricks while playing the puck and sometimes this hasn’t the best impact over the quality of its control. He is a very good shoot out taker and has in his achievements a hat-trick scored with the U18 national team. He tries to work on his speed and his shot’s accuracy. He tries hard to be a leader, has changed 15 sticks last season, likes the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”, cooks at home and reads Paulo Coelho.

Sergei Tereschenko

Team: Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk

Age: 17

Role: Defenseman

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 167

A graduate of the Magnitogorsk hockey school, he has been introduced to hockey by his parents when he was five. At first he had hard times, but he never wanted to play any other kind of sport. He was the first player in the MHL history to score eight points in one week, in three matches. He always liked played as defenseman, but he plays a more offensive style like, for examples, Mike Green of the Washington Capitals. He makes everything possible not to miss a single home match of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, always follows his former team mates, is used to long transfers and likes the concept of the individual prizes in hockey. He thinks about the MHL’s Challenge Cup not like a show, but like a high-level match.

Dmitri Voloshin

Team: Stalnye Lisy

Age: 20

Role: Goalkeeper

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 175

He’s a graduated of the Magnitogorsk hockey school who regularly gets the call into the national team even if he didn’t play in the last WC as his spot has been taken by Alexander Pechursky and Vadim Zhelobnyuk. In the different age categories he faced such players like Evgeny Grachev, Nikita Filatov, Evgeny Dadonov and Pavel Kulikov and like others MHL players of the caliber of Vitaly Karamnov, Vasily Tokranov and Egor Averin he remained in Russia as he ended up undrafted. He got some experience playing in a number of international tournaments where he played also against North American teams. He has won the first “Spartakiade”. 


October best players!

As the regular season goes on, the MHL directorate named October's top players, once again conference-split like in September.
In the Western Conference, the best top goals and points scorer has been Feniks Voskresensk's Vladimir Zavarzin, with 10 goals and 11 points respectively. Nikita Tochitsky from SKA-1946 beaten him of one assist getting 12 and stripping him off the top assistman's crown. CSKA-Red Army's Vladimir Repin has been the top producer among defensemen, thanks to 12 points (4+8) in 15 matches. Ildar Telyakov and Ilya Bozhdaev from SKA-1946 top all the October's defensemen with +13 and the St.Petersburg's team trophy swap is completed by Evgeny Ivannikov, who got for the second straight month the goalie of the month honors.
In the Eastern Conference Airat Ziazov was both the top assistman and top points scorer, 18 points and 11 assists in 12 matches. In September Ziazov has been the top goalscorer with 10 markers, an award got this month by Bars' Stanislav Bocharov with 11 goals. Stalnye Lisy's Sergei Tereschenko has topGrassettoped all defensemen in the East with ten points (4+6) in as many matches. He topped other defensemen also in the +/- stat with an impressive +16. His team mate Dmitri Voloshin got best goalie honors with a 1.70 GAA.
Despite many MHL stars will play in the different international tournaments scheduled for November's first couple of weeks the league won't stop the games.