“We are not heroes yet”
“We are not heroes yet”
Kamenev here to win another medal
It was a tight game – an expectedly tight game, Kamenev said – and he was happy it didn’t end with a shootout, thanks to his game-winning goal at 5:00 of the extra period.
Although there’s a team behind every success, it was Kamenev’s markers in critical moments that saved Russia from disgrace against the underdogs and kept the team with a 5-0 record at this tournament in medal contention.
Still, Kamenev tries to stay down to earth, without the airs and graces others might have in his place.
“Many people congratulated me by texting and on social networks, but for me it doesn’t matter because we just did our job. We are not heroes yet,” the 19-year-old said the day after the dramatic win. “We always feel good when we win and tried to calm down the day after.”
Kamenev was basically born with a hockey stick in his hand in Orsk, a city of 230,000 people close to the Kazakhstan border. It’s an industrial city with cold winters that lies on two continents, separated by the Ural River.
In the ‘90s his father Dmitri was a player in the second-tier Russian league for his hometown team Nosta-Yuzhny Ural Novotroitsk-Orsk. Dmitri got his son out on the ice when he was just three years old, and was also one of his coaches at the hockey school in Orsk where he’s currently coaching the class of 2005.
As a 12-year-old, the young Kamenev left home and moved 300 kilometres north of the river to one of the country’s top clubs, Metallurg Magnitogorsk. He made his KHL debut in 2013-14 as a 17-year-old.
After that season, the Nashville Predators drafted Kamenev in the second round (42th overall). After spending one more season in the KHL, Kamenev followed the call to North America and got to learn about the United States – his opponent today – first-hand with the Preds’ affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. In 24 games this season, he has six goals and eight assists.
“I like Milwaukee. I had no problems with the acclimation because my teammates help me a lot,” Kamenev said. “But it’s a different style of hockey. The ice sheet is smaller. It changes the game. You don’t have enough space, you have to think faster.
“What I learned most is that I started to speak English a bit and can now understand tips better from my coach and teammates.”
Language is less of an issue here in Helsinki, where the Russian U20 national team wants to show more than in the last game. The Russians finished the quarter-finals on an emotional high after tying the quarter-final game with 44 seconds left and winning it in overtime. Kamenev hopes to transfer these emotions to today’s classic match-up in the semi-finals.
Kamenev knows the U.S. from several international tournaments. He captained the class of 1996 at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, and was also on the team that won the silver medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Russia enters the game with a 22-6 record against the U.S. in World Juniors history. It won the last four encounters, including quarter-final wins in the last two editions. Kamenev is one of the returnees from last year’s team, like Ivan Provorov and Alexander Dergachyov. Among the returnees on the other side is Auston Matthews, the likely top pick in the next NHL draft.
“It’s a semi-final. It should be a tough game and it will be a tough game, but we prepared for that. We know that they’re a good and fast-skating team,” Kamenev said.
With four goals, he’s now tied for fourth place in goal scoring with several other players. Only Matthews (7) and Finns Patrik Laine (6) and Jesse Puljujarvi (5) have hit the back of the net more often at this year’s World Juniors.
Just like last year, when the Russians suffered a 5-4 loss to Canada in the final, the team is playing for a medal, and Kamenev hopes it’ll be gold
“Our main goal is to win every game, and we hope we will go all the way,” he said.
Russia-USA will be the late semi-final game at 20:00 local time (21:00 MSK, 1pm ET).
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