I was disappointed when none of the writers who cover the teams and have access to the players picked up on the connection between Rangers prospect Artem Anisimov and the Devils’ Alexander Vasyunov last month when the Hartford Wolf Pack met the Lowel Devils for the first time. While I suspect neither player will win the Pulitzer Prize with their command of the English language, I was hoping for at least a sentence or two acknowledging the personal battle I’d watched on the ice that night. On Sunday I finally got what I was looking for, though it came not from any of the media outlets that cover the AHL squads, but in a story chronicling the first meeting of the two Yaroslavl boys published on Russian hockey portal allhockey.ru.
The article recounts much of what I posted after the game: That the two had grown up playing side-by-side, the leading tandem on their Yaroslavl club, often winning awards for being the best players in youth tournaments, and eventually going on to win the silver medal at the World Junior Championships in 2007 while playing on the same line. And that their paths diverged following the Canada-Russia SuperSeries in August of 2007 — where they once again played on the same line — with Vasyunov returning to Yaroslavl while Anisimov started his career here in North America. The story goes on to describe the progress each has made thus far in their respective AHL seasons and notes the outcome of the match-up, in which Anisimov scored two goals to become first star of the game, while Vasyunov’s goal and assist earned him second star honors.
Each player shared his thoughts on the game, and on facing the other for the first time.
Artem Anisimov: “I prepared for this match as for any other, I looked forward to the game, and wanted very much to win. It turned out to be an interesting and hard battle. Of course, it was very unusual for me with Sasha in the game, since previously we took the ice only on the roster of the same club, and frequently even on one line. But life has separated us [and] we find ourselves on different sides of the barricade — its a valuable experience.”
Alexander Vasyunov: “From that game remain only the most welcome impressions, and only positive emotions. The game was very serious [and] important, especially for us — I would even call it “Vasyunov versus Anisimov”. I think that we both gave one hundred percent, fought to the end. We so wanted to beat one another, that in regulation time we [were equal]. You could say that friendship won. I’d like very much to still play with Artem, but we’re no longer on the same team!”
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