Talented goaltending prospect Ilya Samsonov has already begun his season in the KHL. Four games into the campaign, the 19-year-old Russian has not received a start and is serving as back-up for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the 2015-16 Gagarin Cup champions.
Last week, Samsonov was called up to Russia’s National Team to participate in the Four Nations tournament held in the Czech Republic. Russia went undefeated in the tune-up for the U20 World Junior Championship, defeating Sweden, Finland, and the Czechs. Samsonov won a silver medal with Russia last year.
Recently, Sport Express’s Pavel Klimovitsky spoke to Samosonov about his experience at Caps Development Camp and why he became a goalie.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be [one],” Samsonov said, as translated by Igor Kleyner. “I was begging my parents, and when they took me to the rink, there was not any doubt that I made a wrong choice. I always wanted to stop the puck, be at the center of attention, to decide the outcome of the game.”
The rest of the interview follows below.
How are you managing the conflict between Sbornaya and the club? The championship just started, and you are leaving already.
Ilya Samsonov: It’s not a conflict. It’s always nice to be called up to the national team. You can see the guys, meet those you haven’t played with yet. A serious challenge is ahead – World Junior Championship. There is no problem with my club when it comes to the call up to the national team.
Did you watch the game between Magnitogorsk and CSKA? Were you cheering on your team?
Ilya Samsonov: Yes of course, I watched the game with Kirill Kaprizov, he supports Magnitigorsk even more then Salavat Yulaev!
You recently refreshed your mask, having painted it with the themes from the God of War. How did this idea come about?
Ilya Samsonov: [Metallurg starter] Vasily Koshechkin and I were sitting in our locker room, talking about what to put on it. We wanted to make it with some game theme, thought about Warcraft, and then this idea came up. We turned it over to a specialist, and the rest is his creation. I like it, it’s a pleasure to wear this mask.
Is Koshechkin more of a teammate or a mentor for you?
Ilya Samsonov: He is my friend, my brother, and father at the same time. Always gives me advice, helps me out, we have a very warm relationship.
Did it ever occur to you, if only my goalie partner was a bit weaker, it would be easier to get the starting job?
Ilya Samsonov: I never thought that way. I think Koshechkin is the best goalie in the KHL for many years, nobody comes even close to his level. So it’s a great incentive for me to play with such a great goaltender, to look up to him. May be even outplay him, but there is no negativity here, we are both working for a common cause.
How did you become a goalie, didn’t you dream to score goals?
Ilya Samsonov: Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a goalie. I was begging my parents, and when they took me to the rink, there was not any doubt that I made a wrong choice. I always wanted to stop the puck, be at the center of attention, to decide the outcome of the game.
You went to Washington this summer for the development camp for the first time.
Ilya Samsonov: I only have very positive impressions. It was interesting to watch, listen, see how they work over there. We drafted some plans for the future, what to work on, what to improve.
The plans were of the hockey variety only, or did they also involve your potential future with the Capitals?
Ilya Samsonov: Only the former. They will not do anything secretly from Magnitogorsk in Washington. We stay in contact, work with Magnitogorsk goalie coach and his Washington colleague Mitch Korn. We did not talk about the future, I intend to play out my contract with Magnitogorsk.
How is your English?
Ilya Samsonov: It’s something under development.
They said that Barry Trotz’s son, who is an English teacher in Vladimir, will be helping you.
Ilya Samsonov: Yes, that is correct. The whole summer I was in various camps, now, when I return to Magnitogorsk, I will begin studying.
Did you get to interact with Trotz-senior?
Ilya Samsonov: Yes, he is a great coach, and a great person as well, always very positive, helps everybody with advice.
And among the Russian Capitals, who do you stay in contact with?
Ilya Samsonov: I just saw Evgeny Kuznetsov in Chelyabinsk. While in Washington, I always went to dinner with Stan Galiev, we had a good time, and helped me a lot.
Translation by Igor Kleyner.
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