Yunost Minsk scoring leader Maxim Parfeyevets (right) battles for the puck during the preliminary round of the 2018 IIHF Continental Cup, Photo: Jan Korsgaard
Parfeyevets brings scoring touch to Yunost
At the age of 25, Maxim Parfeyevets is both young enough to entertain big hopes for the future and experienced enough to be the lynchpin of Yunost Minsk.
The KHL call-up may have been overdue, seeing as it came at the age of 25, but Maxim Parfeyevets was as excited as a teenaged rookie, when he got his trial contract with Dynamo Minsk, Belarus’ flagship franchise. Prior to that, Parfeyevets was a scoring star for Yunost Minsk, the perennial powerhouse of the Belarusian Extraliga, the host of the 2018 IIHF Continental Cup Final. He leads the league with 25 goals and 49 points in 30 games.
Dynamo was the logical step up. More than that, he was to report straight to St. Petersburg for the away game against the mighty SKA, arguably the best professional club outside of the NHL.
“They threw my right under the hammers,” says Parfeyevets, employing a peculiar Russian colloquialism. “But we showed good, aggressive hockey there. It helped that a lot of SKA guys were off with the national team where they spent a lot of energy, so we looked fresher and quicker. Could’ve probably won in regulation, but I am proud that we didn’t fall apart after allowing the equalizer and got the shootout win. I am very happy that my KHL debut was a win over a team such as SKA.”
Parfeyevets’ KHL assignment lasted for only two games, and his stat line consists of one assist in the SKA match, but there is feeling in the Belarusian hockey circles that the high-flying winger has outgrown the Extraliga, where he is scoring almost a goal per game.
“This is a better question to ask coaches and experts,” said Parfeyevets when confronted with this school of thought. “People who watch me from the side have a better idea. I am not thinking about my future plans since it’s still the middle of the season, and there are big games ahead. But when it’s over, we’ll look at it and think it over.”
For Parfeyevets, maximizing his hockey potential is a matter of family pride. And of some unfinished business from the previous generation.
“It was my father who introduced me to hockey,” says Parfeyevets. “He played himself, but at the age of 18 he went to do his duty for the Motherland (serve in the army), and that was the end of his career. They did offer him to come back, but when he was 20, I got born, and he decided to do something else with his life. He only returned to hockey when I turned six.”
Maxim still recalls the conversation in the family car when it was decided the tender-aged Parfeyevets Junior would be handed over to Gennadi Bandurin, dad’s old coach who was still working at the local youth hockey club. It’s him, dad, and the Yunost Minsk coach Denis Bulgakov, who get the most credit for making Maxim into a player.
“I am so thankful to all of them for laying the basis early on,” says Parveyevets. “I am undoubtedly very happy that I got into hockey. It’s an amazing sport. I enjoy my job, and that’s the most important thing.”
One thing the speedy winger always had to compensate for is his relatively modest size. At 170 cm and 79 kg, he doesn’t exactly cut an imposing figure, which doesn’t concern Maxim in the least. Indeed, he sees it as an advantage.
“I get an edge in quickness, but yes, at the highest level the size is emphasized,” he acknowledged. “But it’s not like I am the only one like that. There are players with similar vitals who play in the NHL, so I keep a positive outlook. Even the little ones can find their spot.”
Right now, his spot is helping Yunost in its quest for the Continental Cup on the home ice of the Chizhovka Arena. Built as second venue for the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, the new arena has become home to Yunost. After the team’s successful outing in Denmark during the preliminary round of the Continental Cup, Yunost is bullish on its chances before the famously loyal Minsk crowds.
“We showed ourselves very nicely in Denmark,” said Maxim. “It’s a great tournament, and good hockey was played by all the teams. It’s so interesting to play against teams from other countries and to see the level of the local champions. But it’s going to be totally different hockey in Minsk. Everyone gets reinforcements for the Continental Cup, since the first place gives you the pass to the Champions Hockey League, which is a completely different level. The Minsk tourney will be great. I hope, the visitors will like it in our country.”
As for Parfeyevets personally, his next goal is to catch the eye of the national team. He has donned the Belarus red and green in the past, but never in the World Championship, and surely wouldn’t mind another visit to Denmark, where the 2018 tournament will be held in May.
“There is always a chance,” said Parfeyevets. “But I must do a lot of work for that. And show good hockey.”