Photo credit:courtesy UConn Athletics
Don’t sleep on Calgary Flames goaltending prospect Arsenii Sergeev
By Ryan Pike7 months ago
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The Calgary Flames have an abundance of good goaltenders in their organization. Starting netminder Jacob Markstrom was runner-up for the Vezina Trophy in 2021-22. Backup Dan Vladar has been considered an up-and-comer for the past few seasons. And third-stringer Dustin Wolf was the American Hockey League’s most valuable player in 2022-23.
But further down the depth charts is collegiate ‘tender Arsenii Sergeev, who’s quietly putting together an impressive resume of his own within just a few years of first arriving in North America.
A product of Yaroslavl, Russia – a city located a five-hour drive northeast of Moscow – Sergeev came up through local youth hockey and also spent time playing in Dmitrov, just north of Moscow.
But by 2019, looking for a challenge, a 16-year-old Sergeev made the decision to head to North America to further his hockey career. Alongside Ukrainian blueliner Artur Cholach, Sergeev joined the New Jersey Titans organization, a youth hockey academy fielding teams at several levels of hockey on the American east coast. Sergeev spoke no English and only knew Cholach and his own advisor.
In 2019-20, Sergeev played 15 games for the Titans (in the junior North American Hockey League), and also made four appearances for the New Jersey Rockets of the junior National Collegiate Development Conference and played twice for the United States Hockey League’s Sioux Falls Stampede. He performed well, but he was brand-new, didn’t speak the language, and was playing in several places that already had establish goaltenders.
The following season, 2020-21, Cholach headed back to Ukraine, eventually returning to North America to play with the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts in 2021. (He was a sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2021.) Sergeev headed to the hockey hotbed of Shreveport, Louisiana to play for the NAHL’s Mudbugs. Shreveport had no carry-over goaltenders from the previous season, and they ended up leaning on Sergeev and 20-year-old Cole Hudson in net. (Hudson was older and had more of a track record, so he was the starter and Sergeev backed up.) The Mudbugs won the Robertson Cup as NAHL playoff champions and Sergeev caught the eye of the Flames with his performances during the season.
The Flames selected Sergeev in the seventh round, 205th overall, of the 2021 NHL Draft.
In 2021-22, Sergeev migrated to the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. On one hand, the Storm had Flames draft pick Ilya Nikolaev, so Sergeev knew somebody. On the other hand, the other goaltender on their roster was Washington Capitals pick Chase Clark, who had spent time with the Storm the previous season. But after alternating starts early in the campaign, Sergeev took over the net and emerged as the top goaltender in the entire USHL. (Chase was traded to a different team mid-season to get more playing time.)
In 2022-23, Sergeev moved to college, joining the NCAA’s University of Connecticut Huskies as a freshman. He didn’t attend Flames development camp during the summer of 2022 because he was already at college, taking English classes in an effort to ease his adjustment to the college environment. He began the season in a goaltending tandem with sophomore Logan Terness. The duo alternated starts for much of the season, but Sergeev ended up starting a couple extra times (and earning a couple extra wins) for the Huskies.
Following the season, Terness entered the transfer portal and moved onto Ohio State University. Sergeev enters the 2023-24 season as the presumptive starter for a good college team, just four years after first arriving in North America. He’s expected to be paired with senior Ethan Haider, a Nashville Predators prospect and a transfer this off-season from Clarkson University, so it’s another situation where he’s going to have to perform well to earn his starts.
Looking back on his experience in North America when speaking to FlamesNation at Flames development camp, Sergeev said it was the correct decision to make the move.
“You always live and learn, and I think just in general for me, I think it’s the right decision and great experience for me, just moving to the United States, just do my best there,” said Sergeev. “I have more chances, progression perspectives, just reach my goal, reach my dream and then play in the NHL some day. The first year it was hard for me because first year, don’t know language, lots of stuff, just have to get used to it. And then I get feeling good there, and just do my job.”
The Flames have Wolf waiting in the wings, waiting for an NHL opportunity. But don’t forget about Sergeev, who’s quietly putting together a really promising resume.
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