Up Close: Stanislav Galiev

Friday, July 16, 2010

The game winning maneuver in Thursday’s scrimmage occurred during the shoot-out when Stanislav Galiev showcased a fantastic deke move before he snapped it through the legs of the goaltender.

“It is my special move,” the 18 year-old Russian told Caps Snaps, speaking in the English he acquired since coming to North America to play junior hockey. “I skate from right side, try to get backhand and shoot to the five hole.”

Galiev, who also scored in regulation, was among the handful of players Bruce Boudreau singled out following the scrimmage for special mention. “These guys are skilled--Kuznetsov, Galiev—skilled players.”

Unlike Evgeny Kuznetsov or Dmitri Orlov, two other young Russian prospects, Galiev decided to pursue a career in the NHL at an extraordinarily tender age—16 years old to be precise.

“I started to play hockey at four years,” said Galiev, who was born and raised in Moscow. “When I was like nine or ten, I started thinking it is my dream, my life.”

When Galiev was 16 he went to Chicago for a hockey tournament and returned with a fascination with North American style hockey. “Everything is like fast,” he said. “You need to be quick. You need to be ready. You get hit every second.”

“Coming back home I tell my mom I want to play in North America,” he recalled.  “My mom says ‘all right’ because it is my life. You know she understands me.”

Galiev’s first step was a difficult one for a young athlete and reflected the single-minded commitment that many Russians bring to sports. He joined a junior team in Indiana—the Indiana Ice. Leaving his family and friends behind, he arrived in American not knowing any English. He was the only Russian player on the Indianapolis-based team, which won a championship in the 2008-2009 season.

His mother Sveta, who is a widow, visited him periodically. But “Stas,” as Galiev was called by his American teammates, was mainly on his own.

Galiev’s next big decision was to leave Indiana for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. This time, his mother moved to Canada to be with him.

Galiev said that his adjustment to North America has also been eased by a local family from Ukraine, whom he was introduced to by his coach, and who gave him pointers on learning English and making his way in the West. “They helped me a lot,” he said. “ I am still talking with them,” he said.

Galiev was named to the all rookie team in the QMJHL and was drafted by the Caps in the third round. Galiev, who said he had the same hockey coach in Moscow as Alex Ovechkin, has impressive skating and puck handling skills. He does not bother with visualizing the game or any special preparation:  “just want to go on the ice, have fun.”

Like any normal teenager, he likes American and Russia “hot hits.” “Sometimes I can listen to Rap, sometimes I like to listen to disco,” he said. His biggest pals in development camp have been Kuznetsov and Orlov.

Though he jokes around with his friends and has an easy demeanor his determination is clear: “maybe for this year make the world junior team. Just keep working hard and try to make AHL team next year.”

Galiev with Orlov

Galiev with Kuznetsov


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