In the second issue of our “Shift 2.0” column, 18-year-old CSKA’s forward Prokhor Poltapov told KHL.ru about the transition to the professional level and why he considers character to be the most important aspect of his game.

Prokhor Poltapov started playing at the Silver Lions sports academy. The coaches immediately saw him as a forward – perhaps because of his high speed and not very impressive size. He didn’t see hockey as a future profession at the junior level, a realization that didn’t come until a mere two years ago.

“I went to a higher level then; I started playing in the JHL, and I realized that this would be my favorite job. I was just playing kids’ hockey and didn’t think about the future, but then I realized that hockey was my future.”

Poltapov has his own little recipe for a successful game – always go out on the ice with a positive attitude. Otherwise, you’ll be too uptight and won’t be able to enjoy the game.

“There’s always excitement before a game; I try to go into the match with a great mood, no matter how important the game is. You always need to be positive. You shouldn’t think about anything too serious, because it can make the game not go as it should.” 

At the same time, Prokhor is a very self-critical guy and there were times when he was emotional and thought about quitting hockey. But once he cooled down, he calmly considered everything and did not make such a serious decision in the heat of the moment.

“We played against SKA-Varyagi, and we almost gave the match away because of me: during the match a teammate earned a shootout, I was entrusted to perform, but I couldn’t score. Then, there was the post-game shootout, in which I again couldn’t score on my attempt. I said a lot of words, of course, like I have to quit. But then I calmed down. At tough moments, I always talk to my mom, and she always has a motherly way of answering what I did wrong and giving me the right advice. This helps a lot.” 

Poltapov had his KHL debut in the 2020-2021 season in a game against Dinamo Riga, his only game that year for the CSKA senior team. The new head coach of the Army team, Sergei Fedorov, trusts him a little more, and now the young forward has five games in the regular season under his belt.

“In my debut game, I wasn’t worried at all until I stepped on the ice. My partners encouraged me, and I have to thank them. The first shift went quickly, I didn’t even realize how it all happened. Of course, I wanted to win that game, but the atmosphere and emotions were cool. I realized that I want to stay at this level. The main thing for me is to be useful to the team. If the game goes well, I try to score and give good passes to my teammates. But if I can’t, I try to get into some battles, get the puck possession, get the team going emotionally and do some dirty work.”

In the CSKA’s locker room, Prokhor is supported by his older teammates, helping him get used to his new skills. But there are also the “duties” of a young player, from which Poltapov, of course, doesn’t shirk.

“I collect pucks after practice, yes,” he laughs. “But that’s about it. All the guys try to help, because they once were in my place themselves. Just imagine – you come to a new team, of course, you don’t know anyone, all the guys are older, so you need help. Sometimes they tease me, but it’s all in a kind way. I try to talk less and listen more in the locker room, but if the more experienced players offer me a chance to talk, I won’t refuse.”

In his free time, Prokhor likes reading detective stories, especially Agatha Christie’s books. Moreover, his favorites are paper copies, he walks around bookstores himself, looking at the covers and reading the synopsis.

“I’ve never looked at the end of a book to read the clues. It’s more interesting on your own; trying to figure out who did the murder, you like to unravel the thoughts of people who think differently than everyone else. It helps in hockey, too, because you study goalies, how they play, at what moments, for example, they sit or stand. Over the summer, I read seven or eight books in a month and a half, and then, when training camp started, I had a little less time. I would recommend reading ‘Peril at End House’ by Agatha Christie – the denouement is really exciting.” 

For Poltapov, hockey is not only a job he loves, but also fun, drive, and discipline. You can’t do without it at this level, and no one knows that better than a CSKA player.

“When I joined the Army club, I realized that you need to take responsibility for what you’re doing and give it your all. In hockey, my character helps me, it’s a man’s sport, there’s nothing to be fluffy about, you must be patient and play hard. That’s what matters – hit the ice and prove it, play your best, show what you can do. Then you will progress and grow with each game.” 

KHL.ru dossier

Prokhor Poltapov

Born on Feb 1, 2003, in St. Petersburg.

Playing career: Krasnaya-Armiya (JHL), 2019-2021; Zvezda (VHL), 2021; CSKA (KHL), 2020-today.

Director and producer: Zhanna Chernenko
Operator: Yury Boyarchenko
Editing: Artyom Sorokoletov
Design: Evgeny Shcherbin
Graphics: RabotaRetouch

Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
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