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The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

From Russia to Utica: Pshenichnikov adjusts to American life in Utica

A whole new world: Vladislav Pshenichnikov. /Photo courtesy of Kayleigh Sturtevant
A whole new world: Vladislav Pshenichnikov. /Photo courtesy of Kayleigh Sturtevant

Growing up in Moscow, the largest city in Russia, international student athlete Vladislav Pshenichnikov experienced a whole new world transitioning to Utica. 

Vlad, who is in his first year of playing hockey for Utica, is pursuing a degree in sports management and hopes to play professional hockey following graduation. 

“Playing professional hockey has always been my goal since I was young, I started playing when I was just 4 years old.” Vladislav said. “I always thought that playing your favorite game while getting paid and having a chance to travel to see the world is a great lifestyle. 

The transition from Russia to Utica was an entirely different experience. According to Pshenichnikov. From the players to the coaches to the overall Culture and environment. 

Pshenichnikov started playing hockey at just 4 years old. 

He came to the United States when the pandemic hit in 2020 for the first time after he graduated from the Russian Embassy in Sweden. To start his first full year of junior hockey in Florida.

“I had a great time meeting new people and experiencing different cultures.” Said Pshenichnikov. “There were a lot of players from Sweden on the team that year and it was pretty easy for me to adapt because I’ve spent a couple years playing in Sweden earlier in my career.” 



Following the conclusion of the 2020 season, during the following junior season, he returned home to Russia. Where he continued to play in Yekaterinburg, only three hours away from his hometown. 

Even though he was eager to get back to the United States and enjoyed his time here, he says he had an incredible year of growth while facing tough teams after returning home to Russia. 

Vlad notes that because he had gotten so used to the American lifestyle for so long, he was relieved to finally be able to speak to people in his native language. Something he misses while he’s here in Utica. 

For his third and final year of junior hockey he began his journey here in Utica as he played for the Jr Comets. 

“Since I already had experience playing in American leagues I knew what to expect but I still had to make certain adjustments to the way I play.” Said Pshenichnikov. 

Although coming to Utica wasn’t too much of an adjustment for him since he had prior experience in the US and playing for the JR Comets, Pshenichnikov claims that despite the fact that he was somewhat accustomed to playing hockey in the US, he still had to 

get used to a number of changes when playing for the pioneers. From the style of hockey, the way players think on the ice, the pace of the game and communication all had a significant impact. 

“The hardest part of being away from home is certainly not being able to see all the relatives, friends and close people.” Said Pshenichnikov. “Of course I miss my family members who are not able to come to visit, my friends and my pets.” 

As he had expressed, the language barrier had been a challenge for him but after spending some time here getting used to things he has made a lot of new and important connections and met some amazing people. 

Head Coach Gary Heenan says that he’s done very well at learning the English language and getting acclimated to the North American lifestyle. 

Throughout his time here playing for Utica Vlad had scored 4 goals and had 5 assists.

“Vlad is a great teammate, he’s like that annoying little brother that is always saying something funny and in your face.” Teammate Kimball Johnson said. “He always has a smile on his face with contagious positivity. It’s obvious he loves hockey, and loves his teammates!!” 

Vlad comments that he is incredibly pleased and grateful to have this opportunity to continue his studies and hockey career as a player for Utica University. 

“Since I’m from such a large city, I have to say that some of the best things about Utica are the small town atmosphere and everyone’s love for hockey.” Said Pshenichnikov. 

Heenan describes Vlad as a very serious minded individual. 

“He works extremely hard.” Said Heenan. “He’s a very skilled player still learning the college game.” 

Vlad is eager to see where the remainder of his first season will lead him and the rest of the Men’s Hockey team, who have now moved up to No. 2.

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