Yesterday I had the opportunity to chat with netminder Andrey Makarov who currently plays for the Rochester Americans. The 21-year-old Kazan native spoke about why he choose to stay in North America, his friends around the hockey community and his favorite US city. Be sure to catch our next interview next week with Mikhail Grigorenko.
How would you say your season in Rochester is going thus far?
You know, the first couple games we played well and the last few we’ve been struggling and gotten a bit off track and we just gotta win some.
How did you become a goalie? did you ever play other positions?
Honestly I started palying hockey when I was 7 year old and I played forward and spent a year playing center and one day I decided I wanted to play goal, It was a lot more pressure and I like being under pressure
You’ve played competitive hockey in Russia, Canadian juniors and the AHL how would you say they differ from one another?
Playing in a different country is hard. Everything’s is so different, there are no parents, no Russian teammates and you don’t even speak English. You’re forced to learn quick so you can at least communicate on the ice. The drive is different here because you are much closer to the NHL. The hockey is different in Russia because its quicker and the players show more finesse.
What does it mean to you to represent Russia in international tournaments?
Every little kid dreams of representing their country and its so much fun to represent Russia. You see all guys you use to play with who you don’t see anymore because you’re all at different parts of your career and it’s just so much fun to play with everyone again. We won silver and the bronze medal so it was a pretty good experience.
What do you think of Russia’s odds of winning a medal this year at the world juniors?
I haven’t seen the rosters for this year but I doubt I know any of those guys because they’re two year younger than me. With that said, I think they have good odds at medaling.
There are only four Russian goalies on NHL rosters this year, [laying in the NHL today?
It’s a different direction from Russia when youre not from north America. Its tougher for Russians to make it in hockey in the NHL because its so competive because teams have some familiarity with their own players. You have to work a lot harder to leapfrog other players especially since teams only carry two goalies on their rosters.
Who are some goalies you grew up idolizing as a kid?
I use to play at Lada Togliatti junior team and we would practice with the senior squad who at time had Ilya Bryzgalov and Vasiliy Koshechkin, the three of us started working out in the summer. And we would work together and they taught me how to act when turning pro and how to become a better goalie. So I guess them.
Who are some of your closest friends in hockey today?
Grigo because we are living together (laughs). I’m also really good friends with Nail Yakupov.
You’ve been in North America since 2010, many Russians prefer to stay in Russia, what drives you to stay?
When I was drafted in Canadian juniors by the Saskatoon Blades I really appreciated that they picked me and gave me the opportunity to play there. I played 3 years in junior in Saskatoon and I decided that I wanted to play in the NHL and the best opportunity would be to stay in north America.
Does any of your family live in the states? If not how often do you visit Kazan?
No, all my family is still back in Russia. They came last year to visit me which was nice
Which city have you enjoyed visiting the most in the US?
To be an honest, Las Vegas. I made my first pro start there in the ECHL against the Las Vegas Wranglers. It’s a nice town. lots of stuff to do, great shopping. Good memories for me
What do you like most about living in the United States?
Just hanging out with my team and getting to know my teammates in Rochester.