the main goals for the next season are to go to the MFM and make their debut in the NHL

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Vasily Ponomarev is one of the best young Russian strikers. If Ponomarev continues to progress, as he did in Shavinigan last season, then he will have all the prerequisites to play in the NHL on an ongoing basis.

Vasily has several outstanding game factors: the first is technique. Ponomarev has everything in order with her – her hands and skating are at an excellent level.
Secondly, Vasily has a high intelligence and a vision of the site. Ponomarev is great at covering the puck with his body, but the most important thing is always looking for non-standard solutions.
In an interview with the portal AllHockey.Ru Vasily spoke about the upcoming draft, his first season in the Quebec Hockey League, and more.

“In fact, most of the questions from managers and scouts are basic.”

– Vasily, hello. Are you already in active training process?

– Well, that’s how the quarantine ended – training began from the first day. At that moment, when there was quarantine, when all the ice rinks were closed, I trained in general physical training.

– What are you building a base on in the training process?

– I have a complex: ice and general physical training. All exercises are designed to work on starting speed and maneuverability. The coach now puts me exercises on the ice and on the ground, so that they include work on the starting speed.

– Why such claims to the starting speed?

-. I believe that this is my main problem, on which I cannot show the best hockey. I will improve this component – I will play much better.

– General managers and scouts are now constantly in touch with you. Do I understand correctly that one of the most frequently asked questions is “Does it make a difference for you which club and under which number to be chosen?”

– No, this question is not the most basic one that they ask. Many people think that when general managers and scouts call you, they ask tough questions. But in fact, most of the questions are basic: what do you do, what you read, do you have a girlfriend, do you live with your parents. In general, the most common.

– One young player told me that he had a question before the draft related to abstraction. That is, the manager asked him what he would choose – to throw a piece of paper himself into a bucket, which is located at a great distance, and get a million dollars if he got there. Or give it to another person and if he misses, then the hockey player will then be given a million dollars.

– This was only with one team, where there were tricky questions. There was a psychologist at the videoconference – he asked similar questions. General managers and scouts don’t ask that.

– Do you discuss the upcoming draft with the guys in the national team?

– No, we are definitely not discussing the draft, since it is as incomprehensible as possible. The guys and I are in Russia now, and no one has any information about when the draft will take place, how it will take place, and so on. Therefore, we are distant from him – we just train, work for ourselves and try to show hockey better than in the previous season.

“I walk past the coaching room, and there Gordie Dwyer listens to Russian music”

– This year it was not possible to finish the CHL season. Were you very upset?

– We missed a few games. If I’m not mistaken, we had less than two weeks left to finish the regular season and move to the playoff stage. Yes, we were upset. Some clubs have lost a lot due to the pandemic. Our team did not make many exchanges and assembled the squad for the next season to go for the Memorial Cup next season. And other clubs, such as Shikatumi, Cherbourg, Moncton, made a lot of exchanges, giving their draft picks to an established player to help them this season. It turned out that they exchanged draft picks, the season was over, and accordingly there was no “exhaust”.

– This season, “Shavinigan” was headed by Gordie Dwyer. Did you quickly find a common language with him?

– Yes, very quickly. Gordie Dwyer is a strict, judicious person. I remember he arrived the day before the departure, and we were immediately shown the cuts of the games, the moments that he wants to see in our performance. I believe that it helped not only me, but also the team. We immediately started changing our game. He is a good coach who, I am sure, may return to a high level in the future – in the KHL or even become a head coach in the NHL. I know that he did not renew his contract with Shavinigan, so now it is not clear who will be the head coach next season.

– Did Gordy tell your team about Russia, Belarus?

– He really liked Russia and Belarus. Once there was a case: I walk past the coaching room, and there Russian music is playing – it was Gordy who was sitting and listening to something like “Hands Up”.

– You performed great this season – you became the club’s fourth scorer.

– I don’t think that this season was played well – it could have been better. There were big falls after the New Year for objective reasons.

– All the same, you scored well on points. Was there an adaptation in the new league?

– The adaptation was very strong. I am very glad that I managed to score in the first game. Maybe it somehow gave me a charge of emotions and confidence. I enjoyed the game. The team and the coaching staff helped me. Each person in the club helped me to adapt, find my own game, to help the club win the memorial cup.

“On a throw-in, play with the opponent’s stick.”

– For the center forwards, a very important component is the throw-in. How difficult was it initially to get used to this component in Canada? There, after all, they devote a lot of time to this game episode.

– I can’t say that it was difficult to play face-offs in the Quebec Hockey League. Before leaving for Canada, my last experience with this component was at the Glinka / Gretzky memorial. We played against the Canadians, and that team gathered the best centers that Canada has. Maybe due to the fact that I played against the best in this tournament – it somehow helped me to play more confidently on the face-offs.

In Canada, an acting referee from the NHL came to our “Shavinigan”, who has more than 1000 matches. He was also at the NHL All-Star this season. The referee told us about such small details of the throw-in that even the coach could not tell.

– What are the details?

– Look at the referee’s thumb or forefinger when throwing in. As the referee explained to us, they are taught which finger to throw in – either he presses with his index or his thumb. As you can see, that the movement has gone – you need to play with the opponent’s stick. In Russia they say that you cannot play with the opponent’s stick, but in North America it is allowed.

That is, you see that a finger is coming, then first you block the player’s stick, and then you take the puck. Such details will not be provided by the coach. Mentors, knowing the IIHF rules, will say that the first thing to do is to play with a stick. And the man immediately told us – we need to play with the club. In the NHL, no one will look at this. The referee said that most of the players who win face-offs first block the opponent’s stick, and only then take the puck.

– How are things with digital analysis? For example, are they watching from which zones you scored the most goals, gave passes, and so on.

– Well, there is no such statistics, there are the usual cuts from matches. Plus, there is a goalkeeping coach who, before each match, carefully reviews all the moments of the opponent’s goalkeeper’s play in order to tell us where to shoot. That is, he tells what weaknesses the opponent’s goalkeeper has, how well he rolls forward or does not roll out at all. Even the stiffness of the pads is taken into account – how much the puck flies off the goalkeeper during a throw or does not fly off at all. Therefore, the goalkeeping coach does a tremendous amount of work.

– Do you take all this into account?

– Yes, we will, of course. But this is not a necessary factor. When throwing, it’s up to you to make the decision – only you see where it is better to throw.

– I saw on Instagram that you have a photo with Vladislav Gavrikov. How did you meet?

– It was on New Year’s Eve, after the tournament in Canada in Dawson Creek – I flew to my agent’s home in Detroit. We went to the NHL match and that’s where Vlad was met. We waited for him after the game and took a photo.

“Moved to Wings of the Soviets because the head coach had the same great attention to detail as Bob Hartley.”

– How are you with English now?

– Things are good.

– On the French territory of Canada, passers-by do not turn away from you when you speak English?

– I can hear the accent that I am a foreigner. If you, for example, come from Ontario or from another English province, then people are not willing to help you. Hearing that I have a Russian accent, they calmly help, tell me.

– At the junior level, you practically did not play for systemic clubs, which have their own teams in the MHL / VHL / KHL. Vsevolod Gaydamak had the same story, when I asked him why he did not play for system clubs, he replied that he wanted to keep his rights. Do you have the same story?

– Yes, I also thought I could keep them.

– And then you changed your mind?

– I then had two options: either to leave for Canada, or to stay in Russia. I was then detained a Canadian visa, I would have received it somewhere in October and therefore decided to stay. I had to decide where to go in Russia, where to play, because we were sure with my parents before that I was leaving.

At one time, a coach Nikolai Nikolayevich Shchedrov worked in Zelenograd. I really liked what Nikolai Nikolaevich teaches: great attention to detail, just like Bob Hartley’s. I think a lot of people know that Bob pays attention to things that some coaches don’t.

Shchedrov headed the then 2002 year of birth of “Wings of the Soviets”. My family and I talked and decided that it would be good to play under the leadership of Nikolai Nikolaevich. I think that that year was very right for me, and I got the development that I should have received.

– Unfortunately, the Junior World Championship is over. But you were recently called to a training camp for the Russian youth team. What emotions? Is there a desire to go to the MFM and prove everything there?

– I think that any player wants to go to the World Youth Championship. Many people say about this tournament that it is more interesting than the adult world championship. At the MFM all young players want to show themselves. I am sure that the Russian national team will show their best hockey, fight for the first place.

– What are your personal and team goals for the next season?

– The team goal is to win the Memorial Cup. This is never disputed. Individual – to give a chance in the NHL. At least I will do everything in my power to be given this chance. I really hope to get to the youth world championship and I will also do my best for this, I will do my best!

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