The Lone Star Brahmas begin reporting for training camp on August 16 and that means a 5,700 mile trip for veteran defenseman Alexey Solovyev. The Moscow Russia native will be entering his third and final season in the NAHL.
Alexey joined the organization as a member of the Texas Tornado midway through the 2012/13 season. In 39 games that season Solovyev put up 1G – 8A during the regular season before adding 1G – 4A in six playoff games. “I think it gave me a tremendous experience as coach Curtale was giving me a lot of ice time, considering that I was a rookie that year,” said Solovyev.
After getting his feet wet that first season with the Tornado, Solovyev had a breakout year with the Brahmas in his second campaign. He finished the season with 20 points on 6G – 14A, good for second on the team in defenseman scoring. “I thought I had a decent offensive year last year, of course not without the help of my teammates and coaches. I know it could be much better,” Alexey said of last year’s performance. Solovyev has a very heavy shot from the point that can be a major weapon. “This upcoming year, I’m planning on using my shot a little more than I did last year and not hesitate with the puck. I’m going to try to bring even more offense to the team than last year and at the same time improve my game in the defensive zone.”
While he was able to put up some impressive numbers, last season was a trying time for Solovyev and the rest of the Brahmas. “As a team, we had to learn to control our emotions, especially in the first few months of the season, when we were losing a lot of the games,” he remembered. “Towards the trading deadline, coaches knew that they had to make some changes. It for sure was really hard for us to say goodbye to some of our teammates that got traded, but in the long term, it was a beneficial thing to do.” The vets who had been through the battles before bought into the system and helped turn the season around after a dismal first two months. “Older guys, who had some experience dealing with those things and they tried to help some younger guys and lead them in the right direction.” The team will look to carry those lessons and momentum into the coming season.
“The only thing we have to do is to play hard, compete and do what our coaches tell us to do. All of that together will put us in the playoffs”
Brahmas’ Head Coach Dan Wildfong and Assistant Jeff Potter have assembled a formidable group to patrol the blueline this season and will look to Solovyev as a leader of the group. “Unfortunately, I haven’t seen our draft picks and tenders in action just yet,” Alexey said. “From what I’ve heard, our coaches did a terrific job on recruiting new players for the upcoming season. Overall, our defense looks pretty good.” There is a good mix of veterans with junior experience and rookies who have shown great promise.
Solovyev sees a promising season coming together for the Brahmas with the coaching staff having a full offseason to assemble a competitive roster. Alexey knows the team will have everything they need to get back to the playoffs including “good players, a lot of on ice practice time, off ice sessions, good billet families and great coaches that are going to help us achieve that goal,” he said. “The only thing we have to do is to play hard, compete and do what our coaches tell us to do. All of that together will put us in the playoffs from where we want to make a run for the Robertson Cup,” he concluded.
Pursuit of a Robertson Cup is only one of the things prompted Solovyev to leave a country know for producing very talented hockey players to come to the US. “I chose to come to America over staying in Russia is because in Russia you can’t study and play hockey at the same time. When you go to juniors there, you gotta forget about school, and if you choose school, you won’t be able to play hockey.” When asked to compare the NAHL and Russian Juniors Solovyev had this to say. “Overall, I think Russian juniors will be a little better, the league is for sure not as physical as NAHL, but there are a lot of very skilled guys, much pore passing and various combinations.” Despite the opportunity to play at a high level closer to home he kept the long term clearly in sight. “I love playing hockey and I want to play professionals for as long as I can, I also want to be educated, who knows how life turns out in a few years. That’s why I decided to come to states and pursue a dream of playing college hockey. If I would only want to play professionals and not study, I would probably have chosen Russian juniors over NAHL. However, I think NAHL is improving a lot as a league, every year it gets more and more competitive.”
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“I have a few goals for this season,” said Solovyev as he prepares to enter the season. “First of all, as a team we have to get to the playoffs this season and I know, if we put our hearts into this goal, we will be able to show everybody what we’re really capable of and let our fans see some playoff action in Brahmaland,” He also has a personal goal which goes right back to his reasoning for leaving home in the first place. “I want to earn a D-I scholarship this year. I’ve been working hard for the past few years and hopefully it’s going to pay off this year and I will be able to commit to play D-I hockey.”
Alexey has become a favorite among Brahmas fans, with a few more bombs from the blueline he will likely build on that fan base and go a long way toward reaching his stated goals for the season.
South Division Star of the Week Honorable Mention – Jan 13, 2014