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Vyacheslav Smirnov - S62 Rookie of the Year


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For the longest time, Christian Stolzschweiger was considered to have had the best rookie season in Victory Hockey League history. He scored a whopping 72 goals, had 68 assists, for an astronomical point total of 140 in his first season. Christian also had a +53 plus/minus that season. Until Vyacheslav Smirnov came along, Jardy Bunclewirth may have been the closest to claiming the title of the best rookie of all time with 54 goals, 78 assists, for 132 points. Still an amazing point total. He also had a +60 plus/minus in his rookie season.


Vyacheslav Smirnov’s plus/minus is vastly lower than these other two candidates with an +18 rating. However, he has a case for being the best rookie of all time due to his point total. With 63 goals and 86 assists, Smirnov took the Victory Hockey League (more specifically, the Seattle Bears) by storm with 149 points. Simply amazing. Right from the get go, Smirnov showed that he could be an elite goal scorer. 63 goals would be amazing for any player, let alone a fresh faced rookie experiencing the VHL ice for the first time. He was one of the most exciting young players to watch in season 62.


Ryuu Crimson remembers that season. “Yeah, I mean it was definitely one of the most insane seasons played by… Well, any rookie ever. I just remember, I was playing in the M that season but everyone was talking about Smirnov in our locker rooms. We’d be watching his highlights on the locker room TV and just marvelling at the pure talent that was Vyacheslav Smirnov. I mean, it just seemed like whatever this guy did led to a goal. He had his fair share of assists that season, heck, even in his career but he established himself as a true blue goal scorer. I had the honour of playing with him in Team Asia in the Season 62 World Juniors and the Season 64 World Cup. Just such a skilled player that goalies trembled at the sight of. Okay, I don’t know if that last part is true but I would have definitely been scared if I was a goaltender facing him.”


That season remains Vyacheslav Smirnov’s highest point count in his career. To be fair, it would probably beat out tons of player’s high point counts. He played five seasons in the Victory Hockey League, breaking the 100 point barrier only one more time before he retired early with 106 points in season 65. While Vyacheslav was never really able to reclaim that kind of glory as his career progressed, he was still an exciting and damn good player. He may not be the most illustrious point getter and tended to stay in the 80 point range, which is still impressive, but his real claim to fame was his ability to put the puck in the net.


Smirnov was a consistent goal scorer. In the S63, he scored 37 goals and followed it up with 36 goals the following season. Then in S65 scored 46 goals (to add to that, this was his 106 point season). In his swan song season, 41 goals for the Calgary Wranglers before he hung up the skates. Vyacheslav Smirnov was still an excellent player even if he never reclaimed the glory of his rookie season. It would have been unfair to expect that from Smirnov every year. Still, nobody will ever forget when a fresh faced kid named Vyacheslav Smirnov came in and shocked the world.

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