Nikita Alexandrov always wanted to play for Russia.
Now he has his chance.
The Charlottetown Islanders’ 19-year-old centre was one of 15 forwards invited to Russia’s camp for the world junior tournament.
“It’s obviously a dream of mine, playing for Russia,” Alexandrov said Wednesday before Islanders practice at the Eastlink Centre. “They gave me a chance to prove myself now in the camp and we’ll see (what happens) from there.”
He leaves Friday with the Russian camp beginning Dec. 10. This year’s tournament takes place Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in the Czech Republic.
Alexandrov is not the only Isles player getting a chance to play for his country as Gaetan Jobin has been invited to the Swiss camp. The 18-year-old winger left Wednesday for home with his country’s camp beginning on Dec. 9.
“I’m very excited and very happy to be part of this camp and maybe play in the world juniors,” he said, noting his goal of playing against the world’s top juniors. “It was a dream, so I can make this dream come true, and that’s very exciting.”
Alexandrov was born in Germany, but the family moved around as his father played pro hockey. The Isles forward said he remembers watching Russian playing for their country growing up.
“I always said that I wanted to be one of them.”
The St. Louis Blues prospect never played internationally before the CIBC Canada Russia Series in early November. Alexandrov had an assist, five shots and 11 faceoffs in two games for Russia.
He sustained a foot injury Nov. 9 against the Cape Breton Eagles in Sydney, N.S., and just returned to game action on Sunday. He said it is nice to get back on the ice prior to the camp roster being finalized.
“I just have to play my game,” Alexandrov said. “I think they know what I can do and I know what I can do as well, so I just try to show my skills as best as I can and (hopefully) I’ll make the team.”
Cape Breton’s Egor Sokolov and Moncton’s Alexander Khovanov will also be attending the Russian camp.
Switzerland and Russia are in different pools but could meet in the playoff round.
“It could be very fun I think,” Jobin said.
Kevin Gursoy has seen first-hand how good Alexandrov and Jobin are while playing on a line with both of them this season.
“It’s awesome to see those guys getting rewarded. They both work hard every night,” he said. “Nikita is a great player – I’ve said it many times before. Jobin, the same way, that guy can really fly up the ice. He’s got good hockey IQ and sees the ice really well.”
Alexandrov said he basically knows all of the German squad, who the Russians play on Dec. 31.
“It’s going to be fun,” Alexandrov said. “We played against each, with each other probably our whole life. Then seeing each other on the international stage, but on different teams, it’s going to be a little bit weird.”
Jobin said he has enjoyed his first half in Charlottetown and with the Islanders but is looking forward to seeing his family and friends.
Alexandrov won’t see his family in Russia, but if he earns a spot on the team, his family will make the nine-hour drive to watch the tournament.
“Us, as imports, we don't get to see our family very often,” he said.
Need to know
Who – A 19-year-old centre with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was born in Burgwedel, Germany, but has Russian citizenship. He lives in Germany in the off-season.
Acquired – He was selected by the Islanders in the first round (50th overall) of the 2017 Canadian Hockey League import draft. The Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues used their first pick (a second-round pick, 62nd overall) to draft Alexandrov in June.
GP G A Pts.
19 14 9 23
Who – An 18-year-old winger with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He lives in Fribourg, Switzerland.
Acquired – He was selected by the Islanders in the first round (38th overall) of the 2019 Canadian Hockey League import draft.
GP G A Pts.
30 7 5 12