Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk are first and third in scoring on Sarnia. (Photo courtesy Metcalfe Photography)
Rookies Alex Galchenyuk and Nail Yakupov are both adjusting well to their first season in the Ontario League. But the route they took to get there was vastly different.
Last season, Galchenyuk and his family moved from Russia to Chicago, where he joined the Midwest Elite League’s Chicago Young Americans in order to be eligible for the OHL draft as a non-import player. He got his wish when he was chosen first overall by the Sting in last summer’s draft.
Yakupov plied his craft in Russia last season with his hometown Reaktor Nizhnekamsk of the MHL, Russia’s junior league, but felt making the jump to the OHL would bring him closer to his ultimate goal of playing in the NHL. He got one step closer to that objective when he was taken second overall by Sarnia in the Canadian League import draft last summer.
Despite their unique paths to Sarnia, both are excelling in the Sting jersey. Through their first half of the season, Yakupov has 21 goals and 46 points in 31 games, while Galchenyuk has nine goals and 31 points in 32 games. Not bad for two young men still learning the subtleties of the North American game.
THN’s Ryan Kennedy takes a closer look at Sarnia’s dynamic Russian duo.
REPORTER: Ryan Kennedy | EDITOR: Mark Gougeon | PRODUCER: Ted Cooper
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