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Top 11 Debuts in the Past 11 Seasons


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The Best 11 Debuts in the Past 11 Seasons (S62-S72)


When you’re a rookie in any sport, you want to make a good first impression. You are a relative unknown – your coaches and teammates don’t know what you can do. You’re trying to carve a role on the team and gain the respect and trust of your team as quickly as you can.


It’s no different in the VHL, which may arguably be one of the hardest professional league to come into as a young player. While many players step onto VHL ice with grand dreams and visions of scoring big goals and making critical saves, this is a veteran’s league and few rookies have the chance to make an impact right away. This has not always been the case, of course. There have been many fresh faces who have wowed the crowd in their first game. While a strong first game doesn’t necessarily translate into a fantastic season, it does give management and fans something to look forward to - an alert that here is someone to keep an eye on - a potential star to follow. Conversely, many Hall of Famers and present stars have had less than stellar debuts. Any number of stats can give warning that here is a player who opponents will have to watch out for: points, shots, shutouts, fights. Any player who can produce these in his first game can be proud



We’ll start with a few eye-popping stats that were produced by rookies in their first game over the last 11 seasons:


Hat Trick – Jeff Blaze, RW  @NyQuil :tor: S73

Even though the current season is not included in this list, I wanted to give a shout-out to Toronto rookie winger, Jeff Blaze, to become the first player in 7 seasons to score a hat trick in their debut in a 5-1 win against Chicago. You’ll meet the last player to do so later in this list.


Most Minutes Played (34:56) – Sidney Crosby, D  @SidTheKid87 :hel: S63

Defenseman Sidney Crosby played this obscene amount of ice time in his first game with Helsinki in S63. He was more than up to the challenge as he assisted on two goals, was +1 with 2 PIM, 5 hits and 4 shots blocked.


Most Shots (16) – Julian Borwinn, LW  @Jubo07 :hel: S63

In the same game as Crosby’s minute-munching, fellow Titans rookie Julian Borwinn shot himself into the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy conversation immediately (which he did win) by putting on a shooting clinic hurling 16 pucks at Davos goalie Arvid Aamo. Aamo only let one of Borwinn’s shots get by him on the power play which ended up being the game-winner in a 4-2 Helsinki win.


Most Hits (8) – Randoms, LW  @hedgehog337 :dav: S64 & Elasmobranch Fish, D  @Sharkstrong :cal: S65

Randoms showed signs early on of his rough and tumble ways as his led all skaters with 8 hits in a 3-1 loss to Calgary while also assisting on Davos’ only goal.


Fish also led all skaters with 8 hits in his debut for the Wranglers, a 4-2 win over Helsinki. He also potted his first ever goal on the power play on a laser point shot and led Calgary in ice time on the penalty kill.


Most Shots Blocked (8) – Joseph McWolf, D  @McWolf :nya: S63

Largely due to his Americans getting annihilated 7-0 by Seattle in his debut and being outshot 68-25, VHL legend Joseph McWolf showed his mettle by leading New York with 8 blocked shots. The rest of his teammates blocked another 11.


Most Faceoffs Won (26) - Scott Shawinganen, C  @Cornflakers :nya: S63

In the same 7-0 blowout, McWolf’s rookie teammate, Scott Shawinganen took an astounding 69 faceoffs against the Bears but only won 26.


Most Penalty Minutes (17) – Evgeni Komarov, D  @Gooningitup :mos: S65 & SS Hornet, C  @McWolf :dav: S72

Evgeni Komarov would start his career as a feared yet respected pugilist with an attempt to injure penalty and game misconduct at 8:55 of the third period of an overtime loss to New York. He was a +3 and had four hits, a shot, and a blocked shot at the time of his ejection. At season’s end he would be second in the VHL in penalty minutes (215) and third in blocked shots (159).


The much anticipated debut of can’t-miss prospect SS Hornet was perhaps shorter than he imagined but sometime emotions can get the better of a young player. With Davos having just scored to gain momentum at 14:40 of the second period, Dynamo defenseman Alex Bridges threw a monster hit on Riga winger Patrik Tallinder behind the Davos net which drew a scrum. Like his namesake, Hornet buzzed into the scum and started a scrap with sophomore Reign center Kyl Oferson. It was an even tilt but it earned Hornet the instigator penalty along with the fighting major and a game misconduct.


Most Saves (49) – Bruce Grimaldi, G  @Psyduck77 :prg: S68

Unfortunately for rookie goalie Bruce Grimaldi, he didn’t get the win for the expansion Prague Phantoms, but he did keep it close by stopping 49 of 55 shots in a 6-4 loss to Vancouver.


Shootout Winner (5th Round) – Ryuu Crimson, LW  @SlapshotDragon :rig: S63

Can’t get much better in your first game than winning it for your team in a shootout. Even though he only had 3 shots in 21 minutes of ice time, Reign rookie Ryuu Crimson shaked and baked his way down the rink to deposit the winning goal behind Quebec City goalie Tristan Iseult to give the Reign a 5-4 win.



Here are the top 11 debuts in the last 11 seasons (S62-S72):



Berocka Sundqvist, LW  @Berocka :sea: S68

1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, +1, 2 PIM, 7 Shots, 4 Hits, 22:20 TOI

The well-loved Australian began his career at left wing and had a great debut for the resurgent Seattle Bears. He would snipe his first VHL goal early in the first period on the power play to make the score 2-0 and then assist on Henrik Zoiderberg’s marker in the second period. Sundqvist’s goal would stand as the game-winner as the Bears dismantled the expansion D.C. Dragons 7-1. Berocka and the Bears (nice ring to it!) would go on to win the Continental Cup that year.



Vladimir Shaposhnikov, RW  @ng1291 :tor: S72

1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, +2, 4 Shots, 3 Hits, 3/3 FO, 19:38 TOI

Coming fresh off of a 51-goal, 102-point season with the VHLM’s Las Vegas Aces, Vladimir Shaposhnikov kept Toronto his first game against the New York Americans by assisting on the Legion’s first goal and then scoring the equalizer at 17:33 of the third period to send the game to overtime. The Legion would eventually win the game in the shootout and the Russian winger had made his mark with the two points, +2, 4 shots and 3 hits earning him the 2nd Star of the game.



Block Buster, G  @Banana2311 :dcd: S69

34 saves from 35 shots (0.971 SV%), W, 60:00 minutes

After a solid two years in the VHLM, Aussie import Block Buster got his first VHL start in the Dragons’ second game of the season and it would arguably be the best performance of his 22-game career. As one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, D.C. needed their goaltending to be stellar and Block Buster was nothing short of that in his debut. He outdueled Toronto’s star netminder, JB Rift, by stopping 34 of the 35 Legion shots he faced for an impressive 2-1 win. Of those shots, he stoned Toronto snipers, Jordan Tonn, Rylan Peace, and Orion Slade, a combined 20 times. Block Buster was named 1st Star of the game for the first and last time.



Kyson Blake, LW  @TMI :mos: S65

1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS, +2, 2 PIM, 7 Shots, 26:30 TOI

Kyson Blake started his Rookie of the Year season in fine style by contributing on all three of Moscow’s goals, putting up a goal and two assists in a 4-3 overtime loss to New York. He also led his team with 7 shots.



Isak Sjostrom, G  @Austin2997 :que: S72

45 saves from 47 shots (0.957 SV%), W, 60:00 minutes

The Wolves’ slight Swedish netminder put on a puck-stopping clinic against Toronto in his debut as he made the most saves by a rookie in his first game since the aforementioned Bruce Grimaldi in S68. Sjostrom (the Philadephia Reapers career leader in games, wins, shutouts, and saves) stopped shots by every member of the Toronto Legion with only Chad Magnum putting the puck behind him (twice). He made 45 saves to give Vancouver a 4-2 win outdueling former top VHLM goalie, playoff MVP, and Founder’s Cup winner Jaxx Hextall in a game that saw a combined 95 shots by both teams.



Jet Jaguar, C @gorlab :mos: S66

1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS, +3, 7 Shots, 2 Hits, 1 Shot Block, 3/4 FO, 23:37 TOI

Jet Jaguar’s brilliant debut gave fans a peek of what to expect for the next eight years. Jaguar and fellow rookie linemate Dimitri Volosenkov (featured further below) accounted for all of Moscow’s offense but unfortunately Riga scored twice in the last minute to take the game 5-4. But Jaguar still had 3 points, was +3, had 7 shots and took 2nd Star of the game.



Vaydar Odinsson, RW  @BOOM™ :hel: S63

2 G, 2 PTS, +3, 11 Shots, 2 Hits, 4 Shot Blocks, 31:33 TOI

While the above mentioned Crosby and Borwinn had memorable debuts, it was teammate, Vaydar Odinsson, who shone the brightest that same game against Davos. Odinsson did everything he could in the 4-2 Helsinki win as he scored twice on 11 shots, played the second-most minutes behind Crosby and led the team in power play ice time, was second in penalty killing ice time and even went 2-for-2 in the dot. His performance earned him the 1st Star of the game.



Jimmy Spyro, G  @DarkSpyro :que: S70

36 saves from 36 shots (1.000 SV%), W, SO, 60:00 minutes

I guess if you want your rookie goalie to have a great debut, play them against Toronto. The much anticipated debut of the Vancouver rookie padstacker did not disappoint. Coming off leading Mississauga to the Founder’s Cup finals in S69, Spyro was in the zone stopping all 36 Legion shots directed toward him. He earned the 1st Star of the game and the distinction of being one of two goalies to get a full-game shutout in their debut in the last 11 seasons (the other was Virgil Ligriv who only had to stop 10 shots.)



Robert Malenko, D  @pennypenny :tor: S62

2 G, 2 PTS, 8 Shots, 6 Shot Blocks, 31:52 TOI

It’s hard to score in the VHL. It’s harder to score as a defenseman. It’s even harder to score as a rookie defenseman. Someone forgot to tell that to Robert Malenko. The first-year blueliner for Toronto ate his Wheaties before the game and scored the first two goals of the game on his first two shots! Talk about a debut for the ages. He opened the scoring with a howitzer that fooled Seattle goalie Roger Sterling only 2:46 into the first period. Malenko scored again on the power play on his second shot of the game. Unfortunately, that’s all the goals Toronto could muster as Seattle came from behind to win the game 3-2. Malenko shone at the other end of the ice as well leading Toronto with 6 shot blocks. He was awarded the 1st Star of the game for his stellar effort.



Carles Puigdemont, C  @Eudaldkp :nya: S65

2 G, 1 A, 3 PTS, +2, 14 Shots, 6/18 FO, 29:49 TOI

The slick New York center had himself a heck of a debut to cement a 5-2 win over Toronto. First, in the second period, he got his first VHL point by assisting on the third New York goal scored by Ryan Sullivan Jr (the eventual game-winner). Then later in the period, he scored his first VHL goal to make it 4-0. After Toronto scored early in the third period, Puigdemont buried the Legion 37 seconds later with his second goal of the game. Talk about killer instinct! He finished with a game-high 14 shots and earned the 2nd Star of the game.



Dimitri Volosenkov, LW  @SirRupertBarnes :mos: S66

3 G, 1 A, 4 PTS, +3, 10 Shots, 5 Hits, 1 Shot Block, 26:26 TOI

And at #1, we have Moscow’s Russian rookie Dimitri Volosenkov who put on a show in his debut that wouldn’t be matched for 7 years. Volosenkov was all of the Menace offense scoring a hat trick and assisting on rookie teammate Jet Jaguar’s first VHL goal for a total of four points. Moscow was leading 4-3 until Riga scored twice in the last minute to steal it away. With the hat trick, 10 shots, and 5 hits, Volosenkov put on a show for the record books and earned the 1st Star of the game and topped this list of best VHL debuts.




2100+ words: Claim 1/4

Edited by animal74
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4 hours ago, animal74 said:


Shootout Winner (5th Round) – Ryuu Crimson, LW  @SlapshotDragon :rig: S63

Can’t get much better in your first game than winning it for your team in a shootout. Even though he only had 3 shots in 21 minutes of ice time, Reign rookie Ryuu Crimson shaked and baked his way down the rink to deposit the winning goal behind Quebec City goalie Tristan Iseult to give the Reign a 5-4 win.


I actually never knew that happened. Damn.

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1 hour ago, Quik said:

Helluva lotta research had to go into this, awesome article @animal74

Thanks! Yeah, it took me three months to research and write but that was partially due to summer vacation trips and work.

Edited by animal74
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On 8/28/2020 at 10:07 AM, SirRupertBarnes said:

I never though Volosenkov would ever be mentioned again. Thanks for that! Hopefully Volchenkov can live up to that standard


He had better, rookie ?


Sweet article @animal74

Edited by MattyIce
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  • 2 weeks later...

Review: Much like what other people were saying, this was a really cool idea, and executed perfectly. No cut corners at all, you paid attention to every detail from coloring text, using bigger font, underling to bold, all the right right text pops out at you making it easy to ready and always easy to find the most important data, like the saves made or goals scored. Great that you took the time to add a description to each one as well giving us a better picture of the event, also kind of ya to tag every player mentioned in here. Amazing media spot and honestly they don't get better then this 10/10.

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