KALKASKA, Michigan – The 2016-17 season came to an abrupt end for Kalkaska Rhinos defenseman Georgy Samodelkin after he suffered an upper-body injury.
For the upcoming 2017-18 season, Samodelkin is 100 percent ready to go.
He has also been named an alternate captain to serve with team captain Tomasz Skokan.
“Georgy is a great guy and a great friend,” said Skokan. “On the ice, he never stops. I call him the ‘Russian Machine.’ It's amazing to watch how hard he works.”
“The best way to describe Georgy's fitness level is that he is a super athlete,” Rhinos coach-GM Krzysztof Oliwa said. “Georgy possesses a level of fitness you simply don't see in many young athletes. His work ethic on and off the ice – it’s a dream come true for any coach.
“He has put hundreds of hours into his conditioning since last season and we could not be more excited to have him back. Georgy is one of the hardest working players on the ice and his skating ability, moving the puck and skating up the ice and his ability of winning his battles in the corners makes him one of the best d-men in our league.”
Oliwa added that Samodelkin’s fitness level is a benefit on the ice and makes him stand out and get noticed. Listed at 6-foot and 192 pounds, Samodelkin plays bigger than his actual size and spent several years in Russia training under his idol and former NHL defensemen Igor Kravchuk.
“Imagine looking into a black hole on the ice when opposing players go in the corner, but the only player that gets out of it is Georgy and the puck,” Oliwa said. “It's simply amazing to watch and see a player that puts so much work into his fitness level and his overall strength, especially his legs – you’ll see the results on the ice.”
After last year’s injury-shortened season, Samodelkin, who says he is a defensive defenseman, has aspirations to make 2017-18 his best yet.
“Coach gave me an opportunity to continue playing and improving with the Kalkaska Rhinos,” Samodelkin said. “I'm going to feel more prepared compared to last year and I will be able to help the rookies. I play an aggressive, intensive and physical game and I will do anything to sacrifice myself for the team.”
Samodelkin added that he’s played the game since he was four years old and can’t see himself doing anything else.
“I really loved that game from a young age and further on, it became part of my life – that is why I can't live without it,” said Samodelkin. “In the long term, I want to be a professional hockey player and reach all of my goals for this season.”