Player Spotlight: Denis Smirnov

Audio/Story posted October 17, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Tom Johnston

Denis Smirnov is a 5-foot-10-inch senior forward from Moscow, Russia. This season, Smirnov has been introduced to a new line that includes Aarne Talvitie at center and Sam Sternschein on the right wing.

Smirnov described what it’s like to play alongside Talvitie.

“Aarne has a great shot, and he proved it on Friday, so it’s fun to play with him,” Smirnov said. “We stay after practice and work on some stuff and have good communication off the ice. It definitely helps.”

Smirnov’s 2018-19 season didn’t quite meet the expectations that many people had. For a player, that can have both a physical and mental toll on how one develops, both as a player and as an individual.

Smirnov shed light on how working on clearing up the mental aspect over the summer was more difficult than clearing up the physical aspect.

“Mentally was definitely on the harder part because it’s easier to work on your physical body,” Smirnov said. “It took a lot of mental preparation, a lot of thinking, a lot of video. But I'm happy with how I spend summer and properly look over video.”

Coming into camp, Smirnov didn’t know which line mates he would be playing alongside. Coach Guy Gadowsky is notorious for changing up lines quite often, even during games.

“It’s always changing,” Smirnov said. “Now we kind of have some ideas. Coach is trying everything out, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Denis Smirnov looks bounce back after scoring only eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 37 games last season. In 2017-18, Smirnov had 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points. As a freshman, Smirnov had his best season, playing in 39 games and putting up 19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points.

 

Tom Johnston is a fifth-year senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email taj5211@psu.edu.