International Ice Hockey Federation

From Brest to Buffalo

From Brest to Buffalo

Sushko looks to lead the Belarusian offensive charge

Published 15.08.2018 01:05 GMT-4 | Author Ty Dilello
From Brest to Buffalo
Maxim Sushko helped Belarus earn promotion to the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. Photo: Sven Peter
Belarus is back in the top division at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo and the team is looking to stay there.

After having been relegated from the 2016 tournament, they earned their way back via the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group A and are now back in the elite pool. It’s likely not going to be an easy trek for the Eastern European nation in Buffalo, but Belarus will fight to the best of their ability, and because of this are always capable of pulling off a big upset. Just ask Sweden.

The Belarusians are going to be looking at players like Maxim Sushko with North American experience to be their offensive dynamos and put pucks in the net if Belarus wants to get points off the bigger nations. Sushko, an 18-year-old right winger, was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in the fourth round (107th overall) and is the one can’t-miss player on this year’s Belarusian squad.

Maxim hails from Brest, a city of 340,000 situated at the Belarusian border with Poland, at the junction of the Mukhavets and Bug River. After growing up with his local HK Brest program, Sushko came over to the OHL at the beginning of the 2016/17 campaign and joined the Owen Sound Attack. In his rookie season he notched 32 points in 54 games, and added 11 points in 17 playoff games. This season, Sushko is producing at double the rate as the year prior with 26 points in 28 games so far at the Christmas break.

Scouts say that Sushko is a dynamic offensive minded right winger with solid size and lightning quick speed. He analyzes his options very quickly in his mind when out on the ice and constantly makes good decisions with the puck. There is potential that if Sushko continues with his strong development in juniors that he could one day play in the NHL and join fellow countrymen Mikhail Grabovski, Andrei Kostitsyn and Sergei Kostitsyn, as offensive minded players who succeeded in the NHL from Belarus.

Belarus opens their World Junior campaign on Boxing Day against Sweden. They also have Switzerland, Russia, and the Czech Republic to deal with in a very tight Group B.

We asked Maxim Sushko some questions.

How did you get into hockey and at what age?

I practised gymnastics and my father’s friend invited him and me to watch hockey when I was seven years old. We liked watching hockey and the next day we went to the shop and bought all the equipment.

How was it growing up in the Belarusian hockey system?

We didn’t have a really good hockey system. I played all of my young career with two or three years older players.

Describe your playing style.

Two-way forward.

How are you enjoying your time playing in the OHL with Owen Sound?

I enjoy playing in Owen Sound. It’s a really good team with great coaches, and a good chance to improve my game here.

What did it mean to you when you became drafted by the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers? And is that why you are currently playing in North America?

It was my dream. And when the dream became reality, it was amazing. Yes, I want to improve my game here.

Are you excited by the chance of representing your country at the World Juniors?

Yes, it’s a really good chance to show for the world that Belarus is a hockey country and we can play against the best national teams.

What are some of the goals you and your team hope to achieve at the tournament?

We want to show our best game at this tournament and get points off the top teams.

How do you see the national team moving forward? Are their many good young players in the country that are going to make a difference going forward?

I think the Belarusian national team is moving forward. Now we have a good system and it’s going to help young guys improve and develop their game.

NHL Player: Nikita Kucherov
NHL Team: Philadelphia Flyers
Childhood Idol: Pavel Datsyuk
Video Game: FIFA
Movie: Suicide Squad
TV Show: Suits
Pump Up Song: Pick It Up (feat. ASAP Rocky)
Home-Cooked Meal: Curd Pancakes
Activity Away From The Rink: Reading books, hangout with the boys, and watch TV Shows


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