Since Long Island University announced they would be implementing a division one men’s ice program back in May, they have wasted no time compiling a roster for the upcoming season. I spoke with one of those recruits, Rob McCollum, a few months ago about what it meant to join the Sharks inaugural season.
Today, Arsenii Smekhnov, the newest addition to LIU’s roster, shares his thoughts on what it means to join the program and the accompanying challenges.
Smekhnov hails from Kirov, Russia, but has played most of his youth hockey in the United States, most recently skating for the Youngstown Phantoms and Fargo Force of the USHL and Janesville Jets of the NAHL. He will be amongst LIU’s class of incoming freshmen, aiming to add some skill to the forward line up.
Smekhnov: LIU is a new program, and I simply just wanted to be a part of it and be a part of something new and something special. I also have a lot of friends who live in NY and I’ve only heard good things about LIU from them.
What are you looking forward to being part of a brand new NCAA ice hockey program?
Smekhnov: It’s definitely gonna be a fun experience. It looks like LIU is recruiting some pretty good players, so I feel like I definitely want to be one of them.
How do you hope your time at LIU impacts you as a player and a person?
Smekhnov: Well, college level is a step up in my hockey career, so my time at LIU definitely will prepare me for the next level, whatever it is going to be, in my hockey career. Also, I’m sure it’s going to make me a better teammate and a better person, just by being around the older guys and learning something from them.
What were your initial thoughts about the Sharks’ program and how did you hear about them?
Smekhnov: I think pretty much everyone was talking about the new hockey program in NY. So, when I first heard about it, I read some articles about it and thought it was great. The more schools there are makes it more competitive and a lot more fun to play.
Describe the significance of being a member of LIUs men’s ice hockey inaugural team.
Smekhnov: It is definitely something special for me and I’m looking forward to getting to school as soon as possible.
In what ways do you hope to overcome some of the challenges this season, given LIU being a new program as well as navigating the pandemic as a student and athlete?
Smekhnov: It looks like we are going to have a tight group, so it is not going to be difficult for us to overcome all the challenges we have as a sharks’ family.
What are your thoughts on the group of guys LIU has gotten together thus far?
Smekhnov: It seems that we have a good group of very skilled young guys from the best junior leagues, as well as some veterans that have transferred. It’s going to be a great organization with some great players.
With sources reporting the Big Ten Conference has plans to cancel the upcoming college football season given the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear what that means for other sports. The NHL has proved that it is possible to play hockey in a safe environment, but this is primarily attributed to the ‘NHL bubble,’ where players live and play in a secure location. Likewise, the MLB has exposed how quickly a season can be derailed from players and staff traveling and interacting freely with others, possibly coming in contact with COVID 19. However, college hockey may be among the few sports to see a season this year, as there is no skin to skin contact and players wear gloves and face masks.
Handling the pandemic will add to the challenges LIU is already bound to face being a brand new program without a conference but has already proved to have a dedicated coaching staff and enthusiastic roster. I think we will all be anxiously waiting to see what the 2020-21 college hockey season will bring