Jets prospect Ivan Telegin had a strong finish to the regular season in the OHL with the Barrie Colts even though he had a hard time finding his game immediately after the World Juniors. Nations reporter Andrey Osadchenko recently spoke to Telegin trying to find out what this was the case. Turns out, going to the World Juniors could be both a blessing and a bummer.
You were one of the key players for Team Russia at the recent World Juniors. What happened to you next after the tournament?
– After the World Juniors I went to Winnipeg because my hand was hurt. As you may remember, I got injured in the quarterfinal game against Team Czech Republic when I took a shot to my hand. I came to Winnipeg and had a doctor check me up. He said I couldn’t play for 3 weeks. After that I had to go back to Barrie. I figured if I’m not going to play, I may as well go to Russia for some time. I called my coach, he okayed it and I flew to Russia.
It’s kind of expensive, though.
– (laughs) Well, it’s not my problem. The club okayed it, so I didn’t have to pay for it – they did. I went to Moscow for 6 days. I got rested, refreshed my strengths after the World Juniors and came back.
Why Moscow? You are from Novokuznetsk.
– My fiancée lives in Moscow so I preferred to stay with her. My parents flew to Moscow as well.
It looks like you didn’t miss out on New Year’s celebration after all. It’s a 10-day holiday in Russia.
– No, I didn’t, you’re right. I had a great time in Moscow. Everything was just perfect.
It’s fair to say that the gold medal game of the WJC was the biggest challenge you’ve come up against in your career. Your teammate Nikita Gusev said his silver medal was in his hockey bag for a few months after the final. What happened to yours?
– It’s at my place here in Barrie next to my portrait. They gave me it when I came back from the tourney. I’m proud of this medal. I don’t think I should be ashamed to have it
Although, it has to bring back bad memories every time you see it. Isn’t it frustrating?
– It is frustrating, yes. I’d never played a game of such importance before. However, the most frustrating part of it was that I couldn’t play to my full potential because my hand was hurt. I couldn’t really do anything – I could neither pass the puck, nor shoot it. I was doing more damage to my team than I was helping it.
One of the most respected TV-commentators in Russia – Yuri Rozanov – said that the Swedes looked much better than anyone else in this tournament and they deserved to win gold. However, in the round robin against Sweden you were up 3-0 after 40 minutes. What happened after that? Were they really this good?
– I think we played very focused in the first 20 minutes of our first game against them. We did everything our coach asked us for. However, after we got a 3-goal lead we stopped playing our game. We were all playing I-do-what-I-want-to-do kind of hockey. At least, this is what I think. This is why we started falling apart and they managed to score one goal, then another and then another one and so on. We couldn’t pull ourselves together. It was too late for that. The Swedes sensed blood and went for it. We couldn’t stop them. It was our fault completely.
Interestingly enough, it felt like the gold medal game was a continuation of the round robin game. Why do you think this happened?
– (sighs) I can’t speak for the Swedes. As for our team, I think everybody left all of their emotions and strengths in the game against Canada. This is exactly what we lacked in the final. We just weren’t prepared emotionally for this game. Every guy on our team stepped on the ice as if he was either dead or a half-dead if you know what I’m saying. We weren’t as pumped up as we were before the game against Canada. Everybody wanted to play against Canada. With Sweden, I feel, it wasn’t the case.
As a Barrie Colt you play on the same team with Tanner Pearson and Mark Scheifele, who played for Team Canada at the WJC. What did they tell you after the tournament?
– (laughs) Yes, we do play with them on the same team. Although, I didn’t play the game against Canada because of the injury. So, when I came back they were like: “Why didn’t you play? Are you afraid of us or something?”. To this I said: “Why would I be afraid of you? My team beat you even without me”.
So who’s chirping more now? Scheifele and Pearson because you lost the gold medal game or you because you beat Team Canada?
– I don’t think either of us does, actually. When we just got back from the World Juniors, yes, we did laugh about it for a bit. I was saying basically the same stuff Nail Yakupov was saying back then. Does it matter who played better? Does it matter who had more shots? We beat Canada – this is all that matters. There was another funny story. We had a team dinner and our club’s owner attended it. We were given memorable statuettes for our participation at the World Juniors. I was asked to say a few words about it and all I said was: “We beat Canada”.
How difficult is it to come back after a tournament like this back to a regular season?
– It’s pretty difficult. Even though I had a little vacation in Moscow, my emotions weren’t the same as those I had before the World Juniors. It was difficult to go back to what it used to be. It was especially difficult for me because of all the little injuries I was getting. I had a hard time recovering from them. But then I got on a good streak. Whatever I was doing seemed to work. I gained more confidence and found my game.
One can say your style resembles Alex Radulov. Would you agree with it?
– (smiles) I’m not in a position to compare myself to such a great player like Alex Radulov. If people think we play alike, I’m very pleased.
You are friends with infamous Kirill Kabanov. In fact, a few years ago both of you had an unfortunate incident with U18 Team Russia after which you were cut from the roster. Kabanov is going to compete for the Memorial Cup this season because he’s on the Shawinigan Cataractes – the hosts of the tournament. On the other hand, you have a good chance to go to Shawinigan this May too. Are you stocked about the possibility to play against Kabanov?
– It’s hard to tell. Sure, I would be glad to win over his team (smiles). Besides, I would get to see Kabanov again, because after that incident I didn’t see him.