Veteran forward a boost for Estonia
One is the return of Aleksandr Petrov, who scored two goals in two games. The 32-year-old didn’t play for the national team for the past three season focusing on his new life abroad that last year brought him back to HC Valpellice, a Serie A club near Turin, Italy. There he lives now with his Italian wife and their kid.
Petrov was born in Pussi, Estonia, near the road from Tallinn to St. Petersburg. In the late ‘90s he started to play for the U18 and U20 national team while competing in the highest Estonian league for Kohtla-Jarve before the path continued abroad in Russia, Latvia, Finland, France, Norway and Italy where he spent eight seasons.
He’s currently the scoring leader for Valpellice with 18 goals and 20 assists from 34 games. That’s more than former Canadian World Juniors participant Stefan Della Rovere or one or the other player with Italian national team experience have.
“Valpellice has become my hometown, it’s perfect. I also started to speak Italian although not my lot. For my personally the season was good but for the team not so much, we are in the lower part of the standings,” he said.
And now he returned to the national team wearing the “Eesti” jersey.
“It’s great to be back. You never know when the season ends and now we play in February,” he said. “It was special to be back and hear our languages. It’s different ones because the players and coaches have different background so you can hear Estonian, Russian, Finnish and English.”
The start against Poland and Hungary has been expectedly difficult with the two countries having professional leagues.
“In Estonia we don’t have a professional league. They play 12 games and work but some players play abroad in different countries,” he said. “We need to do more to become a stable Division I country. We need to work more with kids. All our neighbouring countries play in the top division, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Russia but in Estonia we don’t have much money for hockey, it’s not that popular.”
This year Estonia will play again in the Division I Group B and compete in Zagreb against host Croatia, Ukraine, Great Britain, Lithuania and Romania where Petrov hopes to be back. Against Lithuania the Estonians will play their last game here in Budapest on Sunday in an all-Baltic clash for third place.
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