‘My teammates already know about Belarus’
The 203cm-high defender, Oleg Yevenko, joins the Belarusian team on the eve of guest sparring matches against the Dutch
The 23 year old hockey player is playing his third season for Massachusetts University’s NCAA Student League, although his agent, Mark Lapush, once admitted that Oleg was previously invited to join the NHL Highlanders. This season, Yevenko has already played 32 matches to make one assist, received 67 penalty minutes and demonstrated a minus 11 utility indicator. In addition, he was awarded the Winter Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the University, which recognised his successes both in studies and sports. In December, Oleg already playing for the team, making his debut at the Swiss Arosa Challenge tournament, but has so far only participated in official matches on a junior level.
Have you had time to talk to Hanlon?
Glen greeted me and invited to make myself at home. He told me that we’ll discuss my role with the team later. Right now, I’m training.
Who has paired you?
I have had two different partners during my two training sessions: Andrey Karev and Nikolay Stasenko. I think it’s too early to draw any conclusions from this fact.
What differences do you notice in the December and present teams?
When going to Switzerland, I actually came straight from the mall, straight to the puck. We had no training sessions then and only two matches were played. This time, I have the possibility of training properly under Hanlon’s guidance. As regards the line-ups, they are similar. The Arosa Challenge was attended by a team of ‘fight-ready’ hockey players.
Is the NCAA Student League hockey season over?
Yes. The Massachusetts University team crashed out in the first play-off round.
As I know, you were invited to join professional teams — including from the NHL. Don’t you regret of your decision to stay with the Student League?
Are receiving more proposals now?
Can you tell us more?
What are the most peculiar features of foreign student hockey?
It’s very speedy but, regarding power fights, it’s less vivid in comparison to the AHL or NHL. Northern America’s strongest leagues train at small grounds, while many colleges boast Olympic sized rinks. Clearly, these create different styles.
You’ve received 67 penalty minutes this season. Do you love fighting?
No! Any fights are prohibited in the student leagues. I’ve received several ‘heavy’ penalties for wrong final hits.
Have your Northern American friends questioned you about the Minsk’s World Championship?
Of course. However, they were mostly interested in the routine aspects: where it would be held and who would be our rivals.
Do they know where Belarus is situated?
As I see they already know, because we have been studying together for three years now. Actually, many Americans call the Belarusians and Ukrainians ‘Russians’, but the guys from my team know of Belarus.
Americans are now announcing the team that will be coming to Minsk. At the moment, it comprises four student hockey players. Do you know any of them?
I’d study the list more attentively, but I know for sure that Johnny Gaudreau will come. He represents a Boston college which shares a single league with the Massachusetts University. The guy is not tall — just 173cm — but he is a perfect player who attacks wonderfully.
Do you feel the atmosphere of the forthcoming holiday in Minsk?
Everything is fine! I’ve seen that the city is preparing. You boast a wonderful arena, with perfect ice. All our hockey players are aiming to win in our home matches.