SOCHI – Sometimes big things come in small packages. Denis Malgin, a young Swiss forward of Russian origins, is playing in his first U18 World Championship in Sochi, all the while being two years younger than most of his teammates of the Swiss national team and, at 16, one of the youngest in the whole tournament.
Malgin grew up in a hockey family. His father, Albert, played for Molot-Prikamie Perm and Khimik Voskresensk in the Soviet Union, and then went to Switzerland, where Denis was born. The older brother, Dmitri, plays for Red Ice Martigny in the second-tier Swiss league.
Malgin, playing for the team of his age, posted some pretty unbelievable statistics, gaining 57 points (37 +20) in 13 games in 2012 in an Under-15 league. After moving up to the U20 team of the GCK Lions Zurich, his stats dropped slightly, but were also pretty impressive - 26 points (15 + 11) in 25 games.
In Sochi, Denis Malgin has one goal and one assist in two games, and has held his own against the older players. Speaking with IIHF.com, Malgin talked about the beginning of his career, about his hockey dreams, as well as what to expect from the Swiss national team.
“The U18 World Championship in Sochi is the first IIHF tournament of my career,” said Malgin. “I was very nervous when went out to the first match, it took a while to adjust. There was no such assurance as usual. Then I rolled it out and everything was better.”
Do you visit Russia often?
I come to Perm every summer, where my parents grew up. There are all my mother's friends. I think in Russian, which I speak with my parents. In the school I speak Swiss-German.
I guess you're probably the main guide in Russia for the team?
Yeah, the guys are asked about everything, torment me. (laughs) But seriously, I like Sochi, and the beautiful arenas. What could we say, very soon the Olympics will be here. Another thing is that that you need to concentrate on performances, not on anything else.
How did you start to play hockey?
When I was four, my dad sent me to skate. I rolled gently on the board. I saw how someone made a check and was afraid of this. About two months I didn't come back to ice. But then i started to train. Since that time my career has begun.
What position do you play in Switzerland and what goals do you have?
I play as a centre, and dream about the NHL. Although, I think that you need to put yourself small goals and gradually reach them. So, step-by-step my career will develop. Of course, I'll be happy to play in the KHL, but I dream about the North American league.
You play on a national team, where everybody is two years older. You are the youngest player in this championship. In your opinion, what helps you to earn such an advance that is given to only the brightest talents?
It's hard to say. Probably, I proved myself at the training camp, where I was better than others at my position. Generally, in Switzerland I played in the U20 league, where all were three, four years older than me. I was not bad. In the following season, i plan to start playing with men.
What to expect from the Swiss national team, where hockey is develops very fast?
We can give a fight to any opponent. We try to play hard and clever in every game. If we play our style of hockey well and have luck on our side, we can win. Good coaches are invited to work in the country, a lot of people are involved in hockey, so we look to the future with optimism.