(Photo: Colton Dodgson/WCSN)
Arizona State forward Georgy Gorodetsky is a long way from home.
The Yekaterinburg, Russia native has lived and played in the United States since he was 15 years old, so while his jump to play collegiate hockey in Arizona might seem like a leap into uncharted territory, it’s quite the contrary.
He received his invite to the American hockey system after a camp in his hometown, where coaches from the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep High School in Minnesota took notice to Gorodetsky’s talent just before he was set to enter his high school years.
They inquired about his willingness to make the leap to the U.S., a move that the 6-foot freshman was open to trying.
“[The coaches] told me, why can’t you try out for that school,” Gorodetsky said. “I said, why not, and I flew over there during that summer, I made it, so yeah, after that I stayed there for one year and I kind of liked it and I decided to stay and play in the U.S.”
After his tenure at the same prep school that produced such NHL players as Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Towes and Zach Parise, Gorodetsky was ready to make the leap to the junior ranks in the USHL. He played with the Des Moines Buccaneers, where he posted eight goals and 24 assists in 55 games.
Those numbers were good enough to peak the interest of Greg Powers and his coaching staff, namely assistant coach Alex Hicks.
“Basically, we just want kids who want to come to Arizona State,” Hicks said. “Both of them, Georgy and [Jakob Stridesberg] wanted to come here and they felt that they could help our program, we felt that they could help us too so it was pretty easy.”
While Gorodetsky is the first Russian-born recruit the program has ever landed, he isn’t alone as the only international player – not North American born – on the team’s roster. Sophomore defenseman Jakob Stridsberg is Gorodetsky’s roommate, and while neither guy is particularly new to the United States, the two have developed a tight-knit bond.
“We have a really good relationship, very close,” Gorodetsky said. “It’s not really hard, because it’s not his first year over in U.S., not my first, it’s my sixth year (in the) U.S. so I’m used to it, I adjust to American culture, to English, so I mean yeah, it’s not that hard for him, neither for me.”
Gorodetsky’s decision to play for Arizona State came down to the special bond he felt he would have with the coaching staff, as well as the opportunity to be remembered as far more than just another player who wore the uniform.
“That was the main goal for me, be something new, a new program,” Gorodetsky said. “Be the tradition, be the first guy to start [the program], that’s very important. You kind of mean something for that, not like some other schools [that are] like 70 years old, like 60 years old where the coaches doesn’t really care about the kids anymore. Here, coach [Powers] like takes care of every single player because you know it’s a new program and everyone is important.”
This weekend in the team’s 4-1 loss to No. 18 Michigan, Gorodetsky scored the first point of his collegiate career, assisting on forward Joe Lappin’s first period goal.
His contributions are going to come in more ways than just on the ice, however. Hicks believes both Gorodetsky and Stridsberg’s decision to play for Arizona State will expand the international recruiting effort moving forward, leading to more international players choosing to play for the Sun Devils.
“I think whenever you get recruits from any part of the country, let alone outside of the country – you get a kid from California to come here and have success, then the younger kids from California are going to want to come, you get good kids from Alberta like we have, the next generation of kids from Alberta are going to want to come here,” Hicks said. “I don’t think it’ll be any different with kids from Sweden or with kids from Russia that are playing over here and they’re like, ‘wow, that kid did it,’ they’ve liked it, they’ve heard good things.”
Arizona State sits at 1-8-0 on the season and is set to head East for games against New Hampshire and No. 3 Boston College this weekend.
Regardless, Gorodetsky’s confidence in his decision and his team has not wavered.
“I’m pretty happy with the decision,” Gorodetsky said. “I know we’re not that strong this year, but we’re getting there. We’re going to be much better even by the middle of the season, we’re getting there every day, getting stronger and stronger, better and better, tactical like on the skill level.
“I’m telling you, we’re going to be really good next year. We’re going to be on that level where we need to be.”