His first steps on skates the three-year old Arseny did in 2004 in Zheleznogorsk near Krasnoyarsk - his dad Sergei Gritsyuk used to play and put his son on ice in the neighborhood rink. Then, he moved to the Fakel sports school in the village of Podgorny.
“Back then we just played and had fun: we really shot the puck a lot because it was fun, we also practiced shootouts. I learned game details, there, but individually I learned more on that rink. You would go out with the guys, stand there, and shoot a hundred pucks at the goal and see which one of you would hit the crossbar first. That’s how we learned to shot, and we just had fun.”
Gritsyuk’s team made it to the finals of the district championship, where it faced Sokol Krasnoyarsk. Arseny then scored three goals and was invited to join the Sokol school. Moreover, there he played for the 1999 team. At the age of 12, in a tournament in Novosibirsk, he was noticed by Avangard scouts, and a little later Gritsyuk moved to the sports boarding school of the Omsk franchise.
“Of course, at that age I did not want to leave my parents, it was hard. But my dad explained that this is a chance that few people get. The first two months I really missed home and family, but then I got used to it. I am very grateful to my parents that they actually made that decision – it made me who I am today. I spent seven years in the sports boarding school, after which I joined the junior team. The older guys took it easy – we had a great team and coaches. It took me a couple of games to realize that the decision-making speed is faster here, it’s more contact hockey.”
In addition to his father, Arseny’s uncles and grandfather played hockey – the whole family supports him, and his father and grandfather are still his personal analysts and advisors.
“My dad watches the games, takes some things apart. Before, he didn’t give advice, but now he does it sometimes – after all, you can see better from the stands or on TV somewhere how to play the game. He says, ‘In the fifth minute, your partner could have shot, but you put your head down and didn’t give him the puck’. So, I return home, I watch and analyze it, and then we talk and discuss it. My grandfather motivates me more, gives me such simple grandfatherly, but very sound advice. I listen, and they actually work.”
Pre-game emotions are a special feeling for Gritsyuk. They always come in different ways, but the main thing for him is to burn inside and stay calm outside.
“Sometimes you go to a game, tune in, and it burns you from the inside out. Sometimes you can get into the game in the first shift, but most of the time you come out to warm up and realize tht everything is about to start. We try to go out on the ice in a positive mood, have fun or push with the guys beforehand. But sometimes you want to be by yourself, concentrate alone, collect your thoughts. Emotions in the game help if you channel them in the right direction. You can be wound up, but you must show outwardly that you’re in full control.”
In his free time, Arseny likes to play computer games and listen to music. The best recovery for him is walking and talking with his loved ones.
“With friends we play shooting games – Counter-Strike, for example, we connect to the Internet and start playing. When there’s no hockey, I like to go for a walk and I can call my parents or relatives on my way home from practice. Sometimes I just plug in my headphones: I relax, come home, have dinner, sleep, and the next morning I’m refreshed. As for music I like Miyagi & Endshpil, their songs have a sense, I like what they do.”
As a kid, Gritsyuk followed Alexander Ovechkin, now he likes Nathan MacKinnon. He also watches former partners in the NHL and VHL.
“Klim Kostin and Yegor Chinakhov left Avangard to play overseas – I watch how they prove themselves there. A lot of guys I played with now play for Omskie Krylya in the VHL, I also try to watch games when possible. I like to watch the guys we used to play together.”
Arseny’s main motivation on the rinkis to win: in a game, in a playoff series, in the season. He takes a philosophical approach to losses.
“When you win, it's like candy for kids – you always want more and more. But losses are necessary too, they make you stronger. When you lose, you realize what you were missing today. After victories, no one looks at how you played, you have fun as a team. And it’s after the losses that you understand what you need to improve. But of course, winning is sweeter.”
Born on Mar 15, 2001, in Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk’s district.
Playing career: Omskie Yastreby (JHL), 2018-2021; Metallurg Novokuznetsk (VHL), 2020-2021; Avangard, 2020-today.
Achievements: Gagarin Cup champion (2021), Hlinka Gretzky Cup bronze medal (2018), U18 WJC silver medal (2018), Olympic Games silver medal (2022).
Director and producer: Zhanna Chernenko
Operator: Yury Boyarchenko
Editing: Anna Averkina
Design: Evgeny Shcherbin