Russian forward Alex Gogolev arrived in the Western Hockey League last year unsteady in the English language but steady enough on his skates.
That much was evident Monday as the newest Victoria Royal went through his first practice paces at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre since being acquired in a weekend trade that sent forward Zane Jones to the Calgary Hitmen.
But thats what you would probably expect from a guy who has been on skates since age two and whose dad, Dmitri Gogolev, is a former Russian and European pro player and assistant coach of Moscow Spartak of the top Russian pro league KHL.
The younger Gogolev also played soccer and tennis growing up but quickly added: Hockey was always No. 1.
But while Canada and Russia may speak the common language of hockey, it's a different matter off the ice.
Last year, [my English] was not good, said Gogolev.
This year, better.
But he quipped that he knows when the coaches are yelling, regardless of language.
Not that Royals coaches expect to be shouting much at a five-foot-10, 160-pound left-winger who had 25 goals and 57 points with a plus-17 rating in 69 regular-season games last year for the Hitmen and three goals and four points in five playoff games.
There were no surprises out there today he is a skilled player, said Royals head coach Dave Lowry, of his new player.
We expect him to bring a high skill set.
Which Gogolev does.
Most of the time, he looks like hes got the puck on a string, acknowledged Lowry, after his first extended look at the 20-year-old Russian.
The deal was made possible because the Hitmen had six 20-year-olds on the pre-season roster WHL teams are allowed a maximum of three in the regular season making Gogolev expendable in Calgary.
The young imports first impressions of his new Island surroundings were favourable. Its a very good city, good rink and good team, he said, understandably struggling through his first interview with the local media.
Asked to describe his play, Gogolev said he is a good skater with a good shot.
Gogolevs new Royals teammates see the dynamic potential of this addition.
I just met him today but Im excited to see what he can do, said defenceman Brett Cote.
The Royals, who finished the pre-season 4-2, start the 2012-13 WHL regular season Friday against the Vancouver Giants at the PNE Pacific Coliseum, before opening at home the following night against the Giants at the Memorial Centre.
ICE CHIPS: The Royals will appear on Shaw TV broadcasts four times this season Nov. 20 against the Saskatoon Blades and Dec. 5 and Jan. 25 against the Giants, all from the Memorial Centre, and Feb. 15 against the Rebels from Red Deer . . . Shaw will broadcast 32 WHL games across Western Canada, beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. when Kootenay visits Edmonton.
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