NOVOGORSK, Russia – Though earning rave reviews after a bright start in professional hockey, Pavel Buchnevich still has ways to go before becoming a full-time contributor at Severstal Cherepovets in the KHL.
This article is also available in Russian.
The 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Sochi could a great chance for him to help realize his ambitions with both the national team and his club.
Last season, the forward from the MHL's club Almaz Cherepovets is considered by fans to be one of the major stars and the best player of his team. He also won the World U17 Hockey Challenge in Canada, a tournament that was only won once before by the Russians, back in 2000 when Ilya Kovalchuk was in the squad.
These achievements helped Buchnevich to earn an invitation to Valri Bragi’s Russian youth team at the "Grand Prix of St. Petersburg,” becoming the youngest member of tournament.
“Buchnevich have all chances to grow into a great master and the most important for him is to continue developing without being distracted by extraneous things,” said Bragin after the tournament.
Many experts are predicting Buchnevich the same way that passed all bright young Russian players - Kuznetsov, Tarasenko, Yakupov and Grigorenko.
Despite a shortened 2012 season due to injury in the KHL club Severstal, with which Pavel has signed a three-year contract, he has earned positive feedback from coach of Cherepovets team, who didn’t mince words when speaking about the work ahead for Buchnevich.
“Buchnevich had a good season, but it was not excellent,” said former coach of "Severstal" Andrei Nazarov. “He had a great desire to go on ice, but he didn't work enough for it in training. Desire is not enough to start playing. Let's hope that Pavel will understand it. I think that he has to play better than (Valeri) Nichushkin.”
At the training camp of the national team of Russia, Pavel answered on questions of IIHF.com
“There is a good working atmosphere in the team, everybody want to get to World Juniors and fight for this right,” said Buchnevich. “First of all we worked a lot in the gym and closer to start of tournament we started to train more and more on ice. Guys came to the team in a different levels of conditioning, so it's important to recover. And everybody understood that.”
How would you evaluate you previous season in the club?
Unfortunately, the injury did not allow me to perform well in the KHL. Therefore, the upcoming World Juniors will be the last chance in this season to play well. Now that I recovered, I have confidence that I can show off my skills in Sochi. I will make everything for it. It will be first world championship for me and also it is the main event of the year. Perform well and you will receive a high place in the draft. Everything is in my hands in this way.
What is your relationship in the team?
It is working. We have formed a great team, I know almost everybody. Also I easily get with newcomers born in 1996. All requirements of coach we grasp on the fly. We worked a lot with tactics, we always work on every detail, so we expect only to get gold medals at the U18.
What are your personal goals for the tournament?
Of course, I want to score more, maybe even win an individual trophy, but these desires are behind the team goals. First of all, I have to protect the honour of my country, and that requires maximum concentration and team work.
Does host championship plus for Russian team or it is worse because of bigger psychological pressure?
Certainly, it's a plus! To be honest, I fear that fans will not come to our games. In that case hosting championship will be the same as if you're playing overseas. I like to play in a full arena and I didn't have this in MHL, where the games usually only have like 200-300 people - almost all either friends or relatives. So, I hope for support of fans.
In addition, the first match in Sochi we will play against the U.S. team that won everything last years. It's clear that they are our main competitors. We beat them twice in a row, so I'm sure that the Americans are angry at us. They will try to take revenge. So, the game will be interesting. We want to meet the expectations of our fans!