There will be a new goal scorer this year at The Brick Teddy Bear Toss Game.
The defending champ is off to the World Juniors.
Hitmen defenceman Vladislav Yeryomenko is on his way to Germany to represent Belarus at the World Juniors for the third time in his junior career. This time it’s the Division 1A 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
“It’s a dream to play in it,” he said. “Not everyone gets the opportunity to play in the World Juniors and words can’t really explain the atmosphere and feeling to represent your country.”
“We have a younger team but we know that we have the skill and work ethic to come out on top. It’ll be nice to be a part of the group that could send them back to the main tournament next year.”
Yeryomenko was a part of the club that appeared in the main tournament last year, after Belarus got promoted when they won the Division 1A title a year before.
In six games, Yo-Yo ended with four points (1G, 3A) which tied for third in team scoring but Belarus lost a three-game relegation series to Denmark to find themselves back in the Division 1A group.
“It’s my last year so I want to do everything I can to end it on a high note and have a good tournament overall,” he said. “We have a good team with some guys from the CHL and even the KHL and a few who have been drafted.
“I think we are one of the stronger teams in the tournament and we want to win it bad.”
Over the course of his junior career, Yeryomenko has been a vital member of his home country’s roster, as he also appeared in 12 contests at the World Junior U-18’s Championships. With many members from last year having aged out of the tourney, the defenceman will be leaned upon to take on an expanded leadership role.
It’s also a full circle moment for the Nashville Predators prospect, as his first time playing in the U-20 portion happened to also take place in Germany.
“I’ll never forget that first tournament,” he said. “We won that year so I’m hoping history will repeat itself. It’s a dream to play in it and not everyone gets the opportunity to play in the World Juniors.
“Words can’t really explain the atmosphere and feeling to represent your country.”
In his third season with the Hitmen since being drafted in the first round of the 2016 CHL Import Draft, it’s been a surreal experience for the Belarus native from day one when he first arrived in Calgary to now 150 career WHL games under his belt.
All in all, it’s been quite the journey.
“I remember when I watched clips off Youtube of CHL games, I thought to myself ‘it would be unreal to play there,’” he said. “It was difficult to transition to the culture and learning a new language at first but my teammates and coaches were all a huge help.
“I’ve loved every minute of being a member of the Hitmen and so thankful for the opportunity I got to be here.”