The star of today’s issue of the Shift 2.0 column is Russia’s hottest prospect – Matvei Michkov. His year was a fantastic one, with his KHL debut with SKA aged just 16, a double potted at his third pro game, a lacrosse-style goal with the Russian national team, and a Team Russia record for the youngest player and the youngest goal scorer beating nothing less than Alex Ovechkin. The WJC is about to start on Dec 26, and Michkov will take part in the tournament.

Matvei made his first steps towards all these accolades in Kungur, Perm Region. When he was three, in 2007, his father – a huge hockey fan – got him on skates. Andrei Michkov was a player himself, and his two-years-old son would get to the local rink to cheer for his dad.

“My father has been working with me since my childhood, he’s giving me advice even now. Just as most of other kids, I learned to skate first, and things started going well. When we were living in Kungur, we would get up at six in the morning to travel to Perm to have my practice. Then we moved, and everything was easier. I wanted to be a goalie, but my coach advised me to become a forward instead, since I was playing very well in that role.” 

Michkov had his debut for SKA against Severstal on Sep 2, 2021. He ended the game with a positive differential (plus-1), and in his third game as a pro he potted a double in Admiral’s crease.

“Against Severstal, I played on the first line with Anton Burdasov and Linden Vey. Hitting the ice with such great players gave me double motivation. In the first shift, I tried to play simpler, then I got used to the different speeds, I got tuned in, and scoring chances started appearing. Scoring my first goal at our home arena was something special, my linemate created my goal for me, I just put it in the empty net. I thank them. Then, in the next shift, I managed to score my second goal. I quickly understood that at the KHL level there are no bad teams. You always need to fight and show that you are better. No one is going to hand you the victory just because.”

There’s a lot of hockey going on in Matvei’s life right now, but he’s not getting any tired. Even when he was a kid, back in Perm, he didn’t miss a single game of the hometown heroes, Molot.

“All my idols played there back then, I really wanted to be like them. There wasn’t a single player I was following – I tried to follow the whole game and study some details that I can learn myself. Today, I keep on watching games from different leagues; it helps getting better.” 

One of Michkov’s forte is his winner mentality. According to Matvei, you need to work hard for this as only hard work brings results.

“I want to win everything I can, but for now my first goal is to win the Gagarin Cup. I love hockey and I enjoy games and practices. When I go and hit the ice, I feel excitement. I want to score, give passes, do something useful for the team – no matter if I need to play physically or get back on defense. I start games with the idea that I have to give all for my team and to win.” 

Moreover, Michkov loves the emotions that fans on the stands transmit. According to him, games without fans in the coronavirus era didn’t leave him the best impression.

“You score a goal, and only your team is going to celebrate – the stands are silent. I don’t really like it – we play for the fans who buy the tickets and want to see a show. I try to showcase my best game to please the fans. When you score and you hear the roar of the stands, it’s something unspeakable, it’s very cool.”

Matvei Michkov

Born on Dec 9, 2004, in Perm.
Playing career: SKA-Varyagi (JHL), 2020-today; SKA-1946 (JHL), 2020-today; SKA, 2021-today.
Achievements: Hlinka/Gretzky Cup winner (2021), U18 WJC silver medal (2021).

Director and producer: Zhanna Chernenko
Editing: Anna Averkina
Design: Evgeny Shcherbin
Graphics: RabotaRetouch

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