|The forward of Elektrostal “Elemash” Nikolai Zherdev can be deservedly
called the leader of our national team. Leader of attacks of the best Russian
line has already conquered everyone in Slovakia with his head spinning raids through
the whole ice, after which the opponents’ entire line is left to look very
stupid. Those unlucky guys don’t even know what to do with this guy who
plays under number 13, who can only be stopped by breaking the rules.
-I am showing anything out of the ordinary in Slovakia- says shy Nikolai
Zherdev. – I just play how I know. I play in the same manner
with my club and I’m blessed that I am adjusting to the upper league.
At the world championships, of course, it’s harder to play. The heavy
weight of responsibility bears down. Which match in Slovakia do I consider for
now to be the best? Probably, against the Canadians. It’s easier for me
to play with strong competitors, such as forefathers of hockey and Czechs at
the match against which the level of preparation is much higher.
The unfortunate performance of the Canadian team was surprising, since they
brought a pretty good team. It’s true, they are missing a couple of strong
players, who are currently busy with their clubs, which are continuing their
battle in the playoffs in the junior leagues. Forward Rick Nash was missing
as well who is, as far as I know, one of the favorites at the upcoming NHL draft.
In August we let this team slide by us in the tournament in the Czech Republic.
Than the North American team had an optimal lineup. In any case, we did not
lose that game because of that. We simply did not play as well. We tried to
drive to the net in general one at a time, forgetting our traditional style.
In Slovakia we improved our game by passing, and we beat everyone with our team
play. At the world championships the team reached its peak. Before we had bright
wins with honest losses, now there is stability.
Before the start of the first round I was confident that we would beat the
Canadians, and after that without any worries would beat Norwegians, Slovaks
and Germans. In the first round we had to face the Czech Republic. They have
a very good goalie Lykash Mensator, who at the tournament in Tyumen beat us
almost by himself. Than for a long time, we locked the Czechs in their defensive
zone, but the puck (with resistance) didn’t want to go in the net. At
the end we walked away with a tough 1:0 loss. In Slovakia, we prepared for this
key game, and everything started to happen. The team didn’t let down after
being down in the first period, in which our goalie Denis Khudyakov played poorly.
We showed our temper and earned our hard fought win.
Regarding my path to the big hockey, I started to play in Kiev at the age of
4. At first I just skated on ice skates, my father brought me to the school
for figure skating. One time I somehow ended up on a stadium and saw how guys
played with a puck. I liked what I saw so much that I told myself: “I
want to play hockey!” The next day I signed up in a group for preparation.
Back than they didn’t have a team for the boys who were born in 1984,
but my first coach Uriy Krilov put me on a team with guys a year older. With
them, I went through all of the basics of hockey. Anton Babchuk ended up on
the same team, with whom I’ve played one the same team my whole life.
We moved to Elektrostal together a couple of years ago, after the president
of the club and mentor of the junior national team Ravil Ishakov noticed us
at the tournament in Quebec
Why did I choose #13? Before I got into Elemash’s lineup, I played with
#15 on my back. But that number was already taken, so I chose #13. A lot of
people are scared of that number, for me it’s the opposite, I like it
and it impresses me. That’s how it happens, that those digits always follow
me. Whenever I stay, in hotels I get #13. But when we left for the tournament
in Tyumen, #13 rippled in my eyes. We got tickets in the 13th carriage of the
train, which left February 13th. So I walk on this planet with devils dozen,
but so far it brings me only fortune!