Canada's Boris Katchouk high-fives fans as he heads to the ice for a World Juniors game. Photo: Andrea Cardin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Forward excited to play for gold with Canada
Boris Katchouk learned from an early age the importance and significance of representing his country on the international stage.
Katchouk’s mother Yelena Tumanova was an Olympic speed skater and represented the Soviet Union at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.
Katchouk, who has previously worn the Canadian jersey at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, is always receiving advice from his mother when it comes to his hockey career.
“She said, ‘You’re living in this country and you’ve got to respect all that’s given to you’,” said Katchouk. “She’s the biggest role model in my life to date. I always pick up tips off her as well.”
It was Tumanova, not surprisingly, who first got Katchouk on the ice. And being the son of parents to immigrated from the Soviet Union, he used Russian Rocket in his Twitter handle, the nickname Pavel Bure was known for.
“She definitely was (my first skating coach),” Katchouk laughed. “I think it was when I was three, I didn’t really like it at first, but she kept pushing me and it was fun.”
Now a prospect of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Katchouk is hoping to help Canada capture gold at the IIHF World Junior Championship for the first time since 2015.
The 19-year-old has three goals and three assists through the first six games of the tournament.
He credits his experience at the U18 Worlds two years ago where he scored a goal and an assist in five games for Team Canada for helping him adjust to the international game.
“Playing with Team Canada, it’s an honour and U18s started it off,” Katchouk said. “Now coming into World Juniors, it’s been an unbelievable experience.”
Following a convincing 7-2 win over the Czech Republic on Thursday, Canada will meet Sweden in today’s gold medal game.
“We’ve got to stick to our game,” said Katchouk. “We’ve just got to stick to what we do best and I think that’ll create momentum for us going into the game.”
Canada last played Sweden at the 2017 World Juniors where they used a 5-2 semi-final victory over the Swedes to earn a berth in the gold medal game. The Canadians eventually fell 5-4 in a shootout to the Americans at the Bell Centre.
Despite the recent history with Sweden, Katchouk says there’s not much they can take from last year’s meeting.
“We can’t look at that, they’re a whole new team this year and we’re just going to bring as much as we can,” Katchouk said. “We’re not even going to worry about any of the players, we’re going to worry about ourselves and that will help us throughout the whole game.”
Drafted in the second round (44th overall) by the Lightning at the 2016 NHL Draft, Katchouk is currently in his fourth season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds where he registered 27 goals and 45 points in 30 games before joining Team Canada last month.
The six-foot-three, 190-pound forward credits playing lacrosse while growing up for helping him put the puck in the net at the OHL level.
“One big thing that lacrosse taught me was hand-eye coordination,” he said. “I think I brought that into my hockey game so far.”
World Junior gold isn’t the only the on Katchouk’s mind. With his Soo Greyhounds currently in the middle of a 24-game stretch without a regulation loss and reportedly in the mix to acquire his Canadian teammate Taylor Raddysh from the Erie Otters, Katchouk is hoping for a lengthy OHL playoff run as well.
“It’s huge, our team is rolling right now and I can’t wait to get back there,” Katchouk said.