SenShot’s Cameron Moore interviewed Ottawa Senators forward Egor Sokolov. Moore and Sokolov discussed the AHL all-star’s community involvement, differences between Canadian cities, and his development as a professional hockey player.
A successful season has led to many accomplishments and milestones. Throughout Sokolov’s 70 games in the AHL, he tallied 59 points leading his team in scoring and becoming the Belleville Senators’ all-time leader in points. He was named the team’s MVP and earned himself his second AHL all-star appearance.
Beyond the on-ice play, The former second-round selection was recognized as the team’s man of the year for his outstanding contributions to his community. He participated in several events including walking in the Santa Clause parade and dressing up as a clown for the “Clowns for Kids” fundraiser.
“It’s great, once you have the opportunity to interact with kids…somebody told me to enjoy your career while it lasts, once you hang up the skates and gloves not many people are going to come up to you…I thought it was a great opportunity to give back to Belleville, that’s where my pro career started…going to schools and seeing the kids and hanging out with them is cool. I think it’s an important part of being an athlete… you’re able to make a kid’s day, especially in Belleville, it’s not a big town and they have a pro hockey team,” said Sokolov.
It’s not always the elaborate events that lead to making these moments for children but something as simple as an offseason skate presents an opportunity for life-lasting memories.
“We were on the ice, me and Oskar Pettersson…there was a kid from outside of the town…I think Shelly said she messed up the time so he had to skate with us…You see his eyes just running around. I felt like okay, let’s make this kid comfortable and let him enjoy…After practice he ran up to us and asked for a picture, you can see how happy he walked out…Growing up as a hockey player, we have a KHL team back in my hometown (Yekaterinburg). You see the big dogs rolling in and you want to get an autograph, get a picture if possible. Once you get it, you just feel over the moon,”
The ability to make these moments within the Senators’ organization all started with one of the biggest trades in the franchise’s history. On February 25th, 2019, Ottawa traded Mark Stone and Tobias Lindberg to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Erik Brannstrom, and Oscar Lindberg, and along with the team’s dealings with Vegas came the 61st overall pick in the 2020 draft. The Sens with that pick took a shot on Sokolov, who was going on his third time through the draft.
The attachment to that deal doesn’t shake the former Cape Breton Screaming Eagle, and he is focused primarily on what he can control.
“I wasn’t a guy coming out of Vegas, it could have been any other kid drafted. I don’t want to be putting extra pressure on myself because Mark Stone is one of the best in the NHL. I hope I’m able to work out to be as half as good as Stone, even more, happy if I’m 75 percent of what Stone was able to accomplish…You never know what could happen with me but I just try to be the best Egor Sokolov, that’s the focus,” Sokolov explained.
The theme of milestones and moments continued for Sokolov during this campaign. On April 8th, 2023 in a 7-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, a dream was realized.
Just a little over two minutes past in the third period, Erik Cernak stumbled and turned over the puck to the Senators forward. In an instant, the 23-year-old slipped the puck past former Ottawa netminder Brian Elliott and scored his first NHL goal.
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Months removed from the achievement of scoring in the NHL, the reality of the occasion has still not set in for the young forward
“Not until I score my second one…At the moment, I remember I went to the hotel and I was laying in my bed looking up at the ceiling. Like man, I just did it. You know how hard and how much work I had to put in…I’m an NHL goal scorer, I’ve scored in the best league in the world…You got to get hungry and you want more. Hopefully, I can score a lot more in the future,”
Sokolov finished his brief stint with Ottawa with a goal and an assist in five games played. A huge improvement from his series of games with the club in the 2021-22 season, where he played eight and did not register a point. He had to wait a long time between call-ups. A grand total of 427 days between his first game of 2023 and his last of the 2022 season. The gap made the feeling of playing in the NHL once again familiar to his debut.
“It honestly felt like it was my first NHL game again… I thought I’m just going to make the most of and enjoy every second I spend on the ice…I thought it was a big change but I realized it was just hockey…I’m here for a reason. I shouldn’t be going out there like Tage Thompson is out there, what am I going to do? He’s been in my boots, trying to break into the league… I thought for me, just to try and make the best impression I can,”
In order to be the best version of himself and to continue to leave good impressions, Sokolov has identified a path to offseason training and a plan to become a mainstay NHL player.
“The skating is always going to be something I work on. Other things are how well I can protect the puck down low, and how well I can make the play on the wall, just using my size. How hard I can get myself and play myself in front and try to get a tip. Those things can help me break into the league. This is the summer when I focus on things like puck protection, forecheck, and stick positioning. That’s the main focus I have for the summer,” Sokolov detailed.
Already having put the puck in the back of the net one time in the show, he is focused on the next one. A clear focus on being his best self, not concerned with ties to the massive Mark Stone deal. Sokolov will continue to make moments, not just on the ice but through community involvement.