From Russia with talent, Gorodetsky’s transition to ASU

The native of Yekaterinburg, Russia is the first Russian player to skate for ASU's Division I hockey program

Russia is known for producing some of the world’s greatest hockey players, and many see the country as a goliath in hockey. From 1964 to 1976, the USSR won every Olympic gold medal in hockey. That was until 1980, when the United States pulled the "Miracle on Ice" in Lake Placid, New York.

One of the many prodigies to come out of Russia is ASU freshman forward Georgy Gorodetsky, who became the first Russian-born player to sign with the Sun Devils last April.

Gorodetsky, a native of Yekaterinburg, Russia, is currently in the midst of his first season at ASU. He came to the desert on a scholarship, a place where he wasn’t sure about until the very end.

"I had a couple of offers from other schools," he said. "My last offer came from ASU, and it took me a week to make the decision. I called my dad and started talking to him near the end. We ended up just trying to make the best choice."

Gorodetsky received offers from Bemidji State and Colgate, but he ultimately felt ASU was the best place for him to grow as a player.

ASU has become a new stopping ground for players in hockey dominate markets like Russia, Canada and Sweden, with foreign players on its roster such as freshman forward Tyler Busch (Lloydminster, Alberta) and sophomore defenseman Jakob Stridsberg (Jonkoping, Sweden).

"Everybody that comes here has a chance to do something special," said graduate transfer forward Robbie Baillargeon. "To have people from different backgrounds is awesome. Russia and Sweden then out to Arizona, never would have thought of it."

Head coach Greg Powers echoed those sentiments, stating that ASU is committed signing players from all over the world.

"Once kids generally come out and see things, feel it and touch it, they want to be apart of it," Powers said. "It doesn’t matter if they are from a traditional hockey market or not."

Growing up in Russia, Gorodetsky never had one player or team in particular that he idolized. He pays more attention to the little details like back-checking and skill moves. He also notices and respects the tradition that the game of hockey has in his home country.

"Everyone likes hockey in Russia," he said. "Like, Russia is cold and all, but what are else are you going to do in the winter? Just play hockey."

Gorodetsky says his biggest supporter in his hockey career has been his dad, who was never afraid to show some tough love.  

"He has taught me a lot of things," he said. "He was very strict with me, and he always tried to make me grow up fast and trying to understand the adult world."

Beginning at the age of 15, Gorodetsky decided to head to the state of Minnesota, where he began his hockey career at the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep school. He played 111 games at Shattuck in two years, compiling 170 points. Shattuck produced players who ended up being NHL superstars like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise.

However, the 21-year old struggled in his first season off the ice, trying to adjust to the differences on and off the ice in the United States.

"It really is a great school with a great tradition," he said. "My first year there was rough. Coming over from Russia was challenge, and I couldn’t speak English very well. I guess I didn’t really enjoy it, but it was very helpful and a good lesson for me in life. Now that I think about it, it was a good time for me because I grew up as a person and become more mature."

Gorodetsky says it took him three to four months to adjust to living in a dorm in Minnesota. He also said learning how to acclimate himself with the American culture and learning the English language took him a whole year.

"My second year at Shattuck was much easier," he added.

From there, he played one season with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U-18 team in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League. The next year, he signed to play in the United States Hockey League with the Des Moines Buccaneers for the next two seasons. He corralled 66 points in 112 games in his time in Des Moines. Some of Gorodetsky’s current teammates, Jack Rowe, Joe Lappin and Ryland Pashovitz, all played with him in Des Moines.

While he learned how to be a better hockey player in the USHL, he credited his coach for making it fun for him.

"I really enjoyed Iowa, it was a great time there," Gorodetsky said. "My coach (Dave Allison) was unreal. He was pretty weird, but he was really funny. We were good as a team and everybody was friends with each other. I learned there that I needed to work on my skating, and I needed to get faster to get on a new level."

Gorodetsky now resides in the Valley of the Sun, and is a part of building a new tradition for ASU hockey. He's played in five of ASU’s 11 games so far in the season, enjoying every second of his time in Arizona with his new teammates.

When asked about his favorite part about ASU, his response was simple - everything.

"Everything is awesome," he said. "School is pretty doable for me right now, and the weather is so nice. I really enjoy it so much better than Minnesota and any other places."

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