© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Vladislav Lysenko is playing for his third Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team this season.
Vladislav Lysenko is playing the game he loves while violent protests have ravaged his homeland in recent weeks.
The Charlottetown Islanders defenceman is from Kiev, Ukraine, and his family still lives there.
“It’s really dangerous. I watched on YouTube about the situation. People are dead. It was scary for my parents, for my friends in the Ukraine,” Lysenko said.
The protests erupted in November after President Viktor Yanukovych rejected an agreement to strengthen ties with the European Union and sought a bailout loan from Moscow. Eighty-two people, mostly protesters, were killed last week and parliament impeached Yanukovych.
Lysenko stays in touch with his parents via Skype a few times a week, but said it’s tough being so far away from home during the political unrest.
“It’s real difficult but I have dreams (to) play in the NHL,” the 18-year-old blue-liner said before Tuesday’s practice.
Lysenko is used to being away from home. He left Kiev when he was 11 to play hockey in Russia.
“There was no money for hockey arenas, for hockey teams, for hockey equipment.”
Lysenko came to North America and played in the United States Hockey League with the Waterloo Black Hawks in 2011-12 and was drafted in the Canadian Hockey League import draft in 2012 by the Sherbrooke Phoenix.
Lysenko had seven goals and nine assists last season in his rookie year with the Phoenix in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He began 2013-14 in Sherbrooke, was traded to Val-d’Or in November and to Charlottetown in January.
“If I get traded, I get traded, that’s my job,” Lysenko said. “I must play and play good and play for the fans and my teammates.”
Islanders coach Gordie Dwyer appreciates what Lysenko has gone through. His professional career took him to Sweden and Germany, but he was more than 10 years older than Lysenko was when he came to North America.
“I know what it’s like going the other way,” he said, noting it was challenging at times as an adult. “You take for granted sometimes what these kids go through when they come over. They give up a lot to chase their dream.”
Lysenko describes himself as a two-way defenceman who plays with a physical edge. He likes playing on the power play, killing penalties and throwing the odd hip check.
Dwyer said Lysenko has a good mix for a hockey player, including a good skater, willing to play physical and thinks the game well.
“He’s got a physical presence to himself out there, I think guys take notice,” Dwyer said.
Lysenko will return home in the off-season and is eligible to return to Charlottetown for 2014-15.
The Islanders (18-36-1-4) host the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (31-24-1-3) tonight at 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre.
Goalie Mason McDonald gets the start for the Islanders.
Dwyer said the team continues to work hard at finding consistent offensive output. Burying a few garbage goals wouldn’t hurt.
“They don’t ask how, they ask how many,” Dwyer said.
“That’s the motto that we have to use right now and moving forward.”
Centre Craig MacLauchan is out with a concussion while a few players were sick and missed Tuesday’s practice.
Kensington native Thomas Stavert will make his QMJHL debut tonight for Charlottetown.
The Islanders called Stavert up from the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League, where he has 28 goals and 49 points in 47 games this season.
“He’s been scoring down at the junior A level,” said Islanders general manager Grant Sonier.
The 18-year-old forward is five-foot-10 and 175 pounds.
u Who – An 18-year-old defenceman with the Charlottetown Islanders.
u Hometown – Kiev, Ukraine.
u Size – Five-foot-11, 199 pounds.
u How acquired – Isles trade defenceman Ryan Graves and Blainville-Boisbriand’s third-round pick to Val-d’Or for blue-liners Dave Henley and Lysenko.
u Statistics -
GP G A Pts PIM
56 1 10 11 48