Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hounds' Russian import a welcome add

With all the local players on the Hartland Hounds this season, bringing in an “outsider” might disrupt team chemistry, right?

Hardly, even when the new player hails from Russia.

Nik Bakanov arrived in Hartland last month from his native Moscow looking to get exposure to North American hockey with the hopes of making a career here.

So far with the Hounds, the 17-year-old forward has a goal and two assists in five games. As for chemistry, Bakanov said the players have been extremely welcoming.

“I like the guys and I'm friends with all of them and the coaches, the same,” said Bakanov. “I know the league is young and I love the Hounds team because we play smart hockey, not dirty hockey.”

Hartland coach-GM Randy Montrose heard about Bakanov through the hockey grapevine and thought he’d be a good fit in Hartland.

Turns out, Montrose was right.

“Nik is a kid we heard was interested in coming to play over here, so we made some calls,” explained Montrose. “We play a very European style of hockey in moving the puck, things like that, and that has helped Nik fit in immediately. We’re working with him everyday to make him comfortable here and he’s working with us to make that happen.”

Bakanov said he played on some very strong teams back home and one day, he hopes to play for his favorite team, the Moscow Dynamo, a team that currently sports Alexander Ovechkin on its roster.

Still, Bakanov’s move to Michigan is making him realize that there are many opportunities in North America.

“I'm interested in American hockey because I have never been to America and I like leagues like the OHL and the USHL,” said Bakanov. “Not many friends from Russia have played in these leagues, but I want to work and train to get there.”

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