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New York Aviators Alum Pshenichnikov Earns KHL Debut, Makes Impact In Russian Junior League

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com, 11/10/21, 8:45AM EST

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The United States Premier Hockey League congratulates former New York Aviators player Vladislav Pshenichnikov was able to reach the pinnacle of professional hockey in his homeland of Russia with a call-up to the Kontinental Hockey League, Russia's top pro circuit, on Oct. 13. 

The 2002-born native of Moscow, Russia, has carved out a fine career for himself early on this season in the MHL (roughly translated to Junior Hockey League), playing for Avto Ekaterinburg, the junior affiliate of the Kontinental Hockey League’s Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg. 

On Oct. 13, the KHL Avtomobilist team called up Pshenichnikov to the pro team, and he remained on the pro roster between Oct. 13-22. He made his KHL debut on Oct. 13, playing in a 5-4 shootout loss to HK Sochi that day. He returned to the MHL squad with a game on Oct. 26 and has remained there since. So far, Pshenichnikov has played in 17 MHL games with five goals and eight assists for 13 points. 

Last season, Pshenichnikov played in 22 games for the Aviators, scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists for 27 points. He had also played in one game last year for the Connecticut Jr. Rangers of the USPHL Premier, scoring two goals and two assists for four points. 

Pshenichnikov feels deeply indebted to the Aviators and their organization that helped him reach the pinnacle of pro hockey in his native country.

“I think the Aviator program is really good for players who want to develop and make college leagues. Coach Mike [Stanaway] always tries to help his players grow and play better hockey, he gives good tips on and off the ice,” said Pshenichnikov, in an e-mail to the USPHL. “I personally had a great time while being at the Aviators, met nice people and had a lot of fun. I developed a lot there too because American hockey is much quicker and there is less space to make plays. That made a big difference on my hockey and helped me develop.”

The start of his involvement with the Ekaterinburg franchise began this past spring. 

“I started talking to my team at the end of May and I officially signed a deal at the beginning of June,” added Pshenichnikov. “KHL is a top two league in the world and of course the level of hockey here is really high. Teams play quick and systematic hockey. There are some really talented players who could set up plays individually. The most important thing is to do what coach tells you especially for young players.”

During his call-up to the KHL, Pshenichnikov found himself rubbing shoulders with many NHL alumni like Ryan Spooner, Shane Prince, Nikita Tryamkin and others. It was an education in the dedication to, and love of, the sport that it takes to remain at that level. 

“Our team has many talented players. We have a lot of forwards who could create plays in the offensive zone. Some of them played in NHL and some had many [years of] experience in KHL,” he added. “Avtomobilist has a lot of foreign players, as well as the head coach [Bill Peters] who had a big career in NHL. I think our team could be really strong this season because we have a lot of potential.”

In addition to Peters as head coach, Avtomobilist’s KHL team is also coached by assistants and NHL alumni German Titov (658 NHL games) and Igor Ulanov (778 games). 

With the Avto MHL squad, Pshenichnikov is skating alongside no less than three players who were listed on the NHL Central Scouting Players To Watch List for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. 

Best of luck the rest of this season, Vlad!