During the first half of Ilya Samsonov’s inaugural season with the Hershey Bears, he struggled to make the adjustment to the North American game as his young team struggled. In 15 games played through December, Samsonov recorded just five wins, and saw several shakeups, including countryman Sergei Shumakov being placed on unconditional waivers.
Then, in the new year, Samsonov switched up his number and became a big contributor to a historic point streak for the Bears, alongside fellow goaltender Vitek Vanecek. With his newfound confidence, he gave two interviews in English without a translator.
On February 22, Samsonov spoke to Evgeny Belousov for Sport-Express about how he’s settled into life in Hershey and finally figured out his game.
“There is a great atmosphere in the locker room, many guys are helping me to adapt,” Samsonov said as translated by Igor Kleyner. “I interact with Vitek Vanecek and Nathan Walker more than anybody else.”
As for when he may play in the NHL, Samsonov added that “[the Capitals] told me if it weren’t for my poor first part of the season, I would have played for the big team by now.”
The interview follows below.