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Imports important to future

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Matvey Petrov, the newest member of the North Bay Battalion, has said he’s eager to show what he can do for the Ontario Hockey League club.

The Battalion selected Petrov, a right-shot forward listed as a right winger, with the first overall pick Tuesday in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

“There’s a little bit of pressure being first, but I’m ready for pressure,” Petrov said Thursday on a video conference call with fellow Russian import Matvey Guskov and Adam Dennis, general manager of the Battalion.

“I’m glad to get to see the fans in North Bay, and I’m glad they trust me,” Petrov said from Moscow, where Guskov translated for him.

But Dennis said the expectation is that Petrov, who turned 17 on March 12 and is first-time eligible for the National Hockey League Draft next year, will be speaking English by then.

“We brought Goose in as a third-year player, but he’s not here to translate for Petrov,” noted Dennis, who said the Battalion will arrange for a tutor for the six-foot-one, 163-pound native of Gus-Khrustalny.

Petrov, who’s been described as a highly skilled player with an excellent shot, said he models his game after that of his favourite player, Pavel Datsyuk, who starred for 14 years with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings before playing the last four seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Petrov played 21 games last season for the junior Moscow Krylya Sovetov, scoring five goals and earning four assists for nine points. In a further nine games with Russia’s under-17 team, he produced four goals and five assists for nine points.

Petrov and left winger Guskov, acquired June 1 from the London Knights for three conditional OHL Priority Selection picks, all of them conditional, make up the Battalion’s two-player import quota. Guskov, who turned 19 on Jan. 30, scored 16 goals and added 14 assists for 30 points in 62 games last season.

London selected Guskov, a six-foot-one, 179-pound resident of Nizhnekamsk, in the first round of the 2018 CHL Import Draft. As an OHL rookie in 2018-19, he had 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points in 59 games.

Petrov and Guskov have developed a friendship, having attended the 2019 NHL Draft together.

“He went with me to the draft in Vancouver and we stayed in the same room,” said Guskov, a fifth-round choice by the Minnesota Wild.

“He was right beside me when I got drafted by Minnesota. He’s a great friend to me.”

The two players also have skated together.

“I’m looking forward to next season,” said Guskov. “I can’t wait to see a puck drop in the OHL. I think we’ll be a great team next season, with a lot of great young guys and older guys.”

The Russian duo “should bring a lot of confidence to the players on our team and to the fan base that we’re going in the right direction,” said Dennis.

“I know in my time we haven’t had two import players of such magnitude, and we’re really looking forward to them coming in and having an impact.”
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