International Ice Hockey Federation

Zub's long journey

Zub's long journey

D-man's first steps on World stage

Published 08.05.2017 12:53 GMT+2 | Author Andy Potts
Zub's long journey
21-year-old defenceman Artyom Zub plays his first IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship for Russia. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Young Russian defenceman Artyom Zub has come a long way this season - and after lifting the Gagarin Cup he's looking for more glory at the World Championship.

It’s a long way from Khabarovsk to Cologne, and a long way from a KHL struggler to a World Championship contender. But it's taken Russian defenceman Artyom Zub less than a season to make that journey.

The 21-year-old grew up on the banks of the Amur, the river that forms the border between Russia and China. A promising young hockey player, he was a star for the Amur Tigers youth team, featuring in Russia’s MHL All-Star game in 2015 and breaking into the KHL with Amur Khabarovsk, a well-supported but underachieving team in the Eastern Conference.

But his career kick-started this season with his first international call-up, a mid-season trade to SKA St. Petersburg, a Gagarin Cup triumph and now a debut in the World Championship. No wonder Zub is describing this as the best year of his career to date.

“Making my debut at the World Championship was just great,” he said. “It was a wonderful atmosphere, we had fantastic support from our fans and, of course, we got the win. It was exciting, to be honest. I was a bit nervous at first, nothing too bad, but it took a bit of getting used to.”

Adapting to change has been a feature of Zub’s sporting career. Before taking up hockey, he trained as a gymnast in his native Khabarovsk. But Khabarovsk, birthplace of Soviet legend Alexander Mogilny, is a hockey town and despite its struggles the city’s team, Amur, plays in front of sell-out crowds at the Platinum Arena. Once young Artyom started going to the games with his father, he quickly wanted to sign up for hockey school. From the first training session, he was stationed on the blue line, and before long gymnastics were a distant memory.

Now he’s making an impact on the world stage, and working out what a rookie player should contribute as part of his initiation to Russia’s World Championship roster.

“To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what kind of ritual we’ve got,” he said. “I guess I need to bring along a bottle of something.” A pause. “Err, of water, of course. We don’t have any other kind of bottle.” Laughter.

Not everything about Zub’s debut was a laughing matter, though. Many commentators were critical of the youngster’s role in Sweden’s goal, pointing out that he failed to shut down the play quickly enough before Elias Lindholm shot the Swedes ahead. It’s all part of the learning curve towards a new level of hockey.

“You can’t dwell on it, it’s hockey. Teams give up goals,” he said. “I had to get back on the ice, work on my next shift, think about the game. It was only afterwards that I had a chance to look at the incident again.

“I shouldn’t have let their player get away from me, he was able to get up and make the pass. I needed to stay on top of him.”

With Russia’s subsequent form – especially that 10-1 demolition of Italy – suggesting that the team is adapting fast to the World Championship, Zub and his team-mates look capable of staying on top of their upcoming opponents here in Cologne.


Back to Overview