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Mikhail “Mikey” Savin Playing in Nationals With Family Top of Mind

By Michael Reedy, 03/30/22, 12:15PM MDT


Sioux Falls Power forward welcomes Nationals as distraction from conflict in Ukraine

When a player steps onto the ice, everything fades and the focus can solely be one thing: to win the game. Distractions from school or work can creep in, especially for teenagers, but sometimes hockey can also help provide a welcomed distraction.

The most difficult distraction for anyone, however, is family and those you love, and for Sioux Falls 15O forward Mikhail “Mikey” Savin, his focus shifts drastically once he gets on the ice.

Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine is very personal for Mikey, as his teammates and coaches call him, who was born in Eastern Ukraine and lived throughout the country up until last year. Mikey had an opportunity to study in the United States to improve both his hockey skills and his English, while his parents and younger sibling stayed home in Ukraine.

“The level of hockey in Ukraine is not as good as it is in the United States,” Mikey said. “My parents decided to send me to the U.S. which was good because I wanted to improve my English. That’s why I came here, to play hockey and improve my English.”

Moving 5,200 miles away would be difficult for any teenager but the recent invasion has put much more weight on him to burden. Recently, his mother and younger sibling fled Ukraine for safety and his dad stayed in Kyiv, Ukraine, to defend his country. For Mikey, it has been difficult to keep up with the news and see what’s happening to his home country, but it doesn’t change the type of player he is on the ice.

“When I’m on the ice, I’m focused on hockey and to win the game,” Mikey said. “It was hard in the beginning because I would think about what’s going on in Ukraine, but now when I step onto the ice for practice or a game, I’m focused, I’m doing my best, and doing my job trying to win the game.”

Assistant coach Shaq Merasty described Mikey as one of the hardest working guys on the team and brings high energy to the team and the entire lineup.

“He works hard not just on the ice, but off the ice in school,” Merasty said. “He’s got a great attitude and is a good character and has a lot of respect for the game and you can tell he was raised right by his parents. He brings a positive attitude and energy to our club and brings a smile to the rink every day and has a great work ethic. I think any coach at any level would take those qualities from a player.”

Mikey holds a close relationship with his family and still makes it a priority to speak with his father on a regular day basis. Despite the current circumstances in Ukraine, his father doesn’t miss the chance to give Mikey advice of how he’s supposed to be on and off the ice, no matter the time of day.

“I talk to him regularly, I was just on the phone with him yesterday,” Mikey said. “When he’s talking to me, he gives me advice on how I’m supposed to be. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 1 a.m., 2 a.m., or 3 a.m. in Ukraine, any opportunity we get to talk we take it and that helps me out a lot.”

Behind the team’s bench, fans will see a Ukraine flag taped up to show support for their teammate/player and the people of Ukraine. The team has also showed its support of Ukraine with blue and yellow tape on their sticks, the colors of the nation’s flag.

The idea itself was brought up by Mikey and when he brought the idea forward to his coaches, they had no issue with it.

The Sioux Falls Power bench during a break in the action of the team's opening game at the Youth Tier I 15O National Championship.

“We just take that extra minute or two out of our day to show him (Mikey) that our entire club supports him and his family and hope that everyone stays safe.” Merasty said.

The showcasing of the flag and the nations tape of the players sticks has helped show Mikey that his club supports him and that there’s several helping hands if he needs one.

“When everything happened, the coaches were talking to me about what’s going on, asking me how I was doing and if I needed any help that I could ask them,” Mikey said. “It’s sad seeing the news and hearing updates on what’s going on, but how supportive people are here and how everyone is always willing to lend out a helping hand and ask what they can do to help makes me feel better.”

Now, looking forward to the slate of games coming up and playing in the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 15O National Championship, Mikey is excited to focus on helping out his team to play in the championship game on Monday.

“It’s my first year playing hockey in the United States so it’s exciting to play in the national tournament,” Mikey said. “You know, some people play 5-10 years and don’t get this opportunity, so for it to happen in my first year, I’m so excited.”

The excitement is ironically a stark contrast to how Mikey found the sport of hockey. Mikey said boredom was the reason he started, that he wanted to try something new, and was walking in the park and saw a hockey team in his city. He thought he’d try it out and once he did, he couldn’t stop.

Mikey’s one request to fans watching and wanting to help was to use and share the phrase #NoWarInUkraine for his home country.

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