Calling Dmitry Sinitsyn's road to the NCAA circuitous would be an understatement.
The trilingual, Russian-born and partially Texas-trained hockey player crossed the ocean to play junior hockey in Dallas and intended to join the USHL, but visa problems forced him back to Russia. Since he was still an amateur, he signed on with UMass-Lowell to play college hockey, and he redshirted last season as he got his academics (and student visa status) sorted out.
So now after a year off, he jumps from being a very strong under-16 defensemen to being one of the younger players in NCAA hockey. After all, most guys play in a junior league, be it the USHL, NAHL or something else, for at least a few seasons before jumping to college. Sinitsyn obviously didn't have that chance.
And that's before you bring into the difference in ice size and style of play from his European training into account.
"There is much more space (in Russia) and it’s real easy to avoid hits when there is much more skill and speed. So you have to play real careful," Sinitsyn said. "That’s why I came here. The hockey is different and everything is much faster and smaller."
Given the age difference and the large gap since his last competitive season, Sinitsyn has adjusted well to the NCAA. He's played in four of the team's first five games and has an even rating with no shots. That's the most games of any freshman on the team.
Also in today's links, Edmonton hockey fans are a wee bit upset with a Texas Stars player, how the lockout is affecting local rinks and teams and hockey players should really stop dressing up as giant pink bunnies for Halloween.
- I do have a certain amount of admiration for the following post about a hit in the Texas Stars game against the Oklahoma City Barons. After all, it's not often that you see ridiculously long diatribes against dangerous hits in AHL hockey (though it's only again "young stars" in the AHL, as if veteran players somehow deserve less protection than their higher-paid counterparts), especially ones that rely on low resolution GIFs and grainy screenshots with pixelated arrows. [Edmonton Journal]
- The headline on this article is a lot more depressing than the information itself. Essentially, the Stars have the local hockey infrastructure to help maintain a hockey (if not NHL) fanbase during the lockout, and they stand to make a large financial turnaround whenever the league returns because of the new ownership. Of course, for those to be relevant to the Stars again, this league has to figure out some sort of middle ground with the players. [Dallas Business Journal]
- This article is trying to demonstrate the lockout's affect on local rinks and youth leagues, but without any hard numbers to back up the first two grafs (and without any real strong quotes supporting it either), I'm a little skeptical of the dramatic slide, at least at this point. [Gant Daily]
- As for the lockout itself, no mediators yet (because it's not like these two sides could use a neutral third-party in the room or something), but the PA may be trying to initiate negotiations again sometime soon. We shall see. [ESPN]
- Done with the current unhappiness and ready to relive past ones? You might try this "nostalgic live blog" of the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals Game 6 that featured the Stars and then-Mighty Ducks. This was the series that started with the loss in the 5OT game and ended with the, well, you know, but it's a fun look back at how things were less than a decade ago. [The Hockey Writers]
- The absolute weirdest story of the week award has to go to the CHLPA drama. After opening with a bang early this week with the threat of a lawsuit, it turns out there's cases of mistaken identity and misrepresentation all the way around, which has led Georges Laraque to step down. [The Globe and Mail]
- Yes, I know it's another 364 days until Halloween. But you need some scary images to stay with you until next October, so go ahead and decide which makes the more disturbing pink bunny - Zdeno Chara (from a trip to a children's hospital last year) or Steve Ott (seen here with his daughter). [NESN/@OtterN9NE]
- Also in the "images that can't be unseen" category is Jamie Benn and his, er, interesting portrait with a teammate from a German outlet. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
- God I miss Sergei Zubov, and Todd makes me sad by confirming his DNA is simply too powerful to clone. [Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
- This week's offering for the Friday Flashback is Stu Barnes and his hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks. I loved Barnes style of play almost as much as I loved his amusingly oversized helmet.