Lazarev adjusting to hockey, life in Cape Breton


Cape Breton Screaming Eagles forward Maxim Lazarev has two goals in his first three games in the lineup. He’ll make his home debut tonight against the Rimouski Océanic.

SYDNEY — Moving thousands of miles away from home to chase your hockey dream can be a tough road to take, and adjusting to life off the ice is a big part of it.
That’s what 17-year-old Cape Breton Screaming Eagles forward Maxim Lazarev has faced since moving from his native Kazan, Russia to Canada to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The language barrier has been a challenge for the teenager, but he’s coming along.

“I think it’s one of the biggest challenges for me is learning English,” said Lazarev, who credited the help of billet parents Natalie and Robert Miller for his transition. “I’ve been trying to learn English faster and I think I’m doing good. I’m learning English with a teacher. Sometimes, I watch TV, but I don’t understand more.”

Although it’s been a change for Lazarev off the ice, he hasn’t had much trouble adjusting on it so far.

After missing the first 20 games of the season due to injury, he made his debut against the Sherbrooke Phoenix on the road on Nov. 8. He scored two goals during the three-game road trip in Quebec, and helped Cape Breton secure five out of a possible six points.

Lazarev kept the puck from his first goal against the Shawinigan Cataractes on Nov. 9.

“It was good, I felt very good,” he said. “It’s nice and I was happy.”

Head coach and general manager Marc-André Dumont said he’s been impressed with Lazarev’s start.

“It’s tough for a player in their rookie season to come in when the season started two months ago, for system-wise, skill-wise, all that stuff,” he said. “It’s good to see he was very functional.

“As we go into the weeks and months, he’s going to get more and more comfortable. To see that from the get-go, a very functional game, is a good sign.”

Dumont said adjusting to life and hockey in Canada for import players is different on a case-by-case basis.

“There are kids who understand quickly and kids who take more time to understand,” he said. “Some players are visual, others are auditive. It’s a process and in his case, he’s a wise kid, so he understands quickly and that’s an advantage for him to get into the group hockey wise and socially as well.”

Lazarev makes his home debut with the Screaming Eagles tonight when they host the Rimouski Océanic. The club challenges the Drummondville Voltigeurs on Saturday. Each game starts at 7 p.m.

NOTES: Cape Breton will be without forward Clark Bishop (finger), defenceman Jérémy Beaudry (lower body) and goaltender Maxime Lagacé (lower body). Goaltender Chase Marchand will be in the lineup for the Screaming Eagles this weekend.

On Twitter: @cbpost_sports