Sergei Anisimov and Valeri Rykov for the L/A Nordiques. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn) (Sun Journal photo by Andree Keh

LEWISTON — L/A Nordiques head coach Cam Robichaud asked forward Sergei Anisimov if he had heard of a kid named Valeri Rykov.

Both are from Russia, Anisimov from St. Petersburg and Rykov from Moscow. With a population of 144 million in the country, the chances of them crossing paths was pretty low. Sergei thought the same thing.

Well Robichaud brought Rykov in after the Christmas break and it hit Anisimov that their paths did cross.

“Cam texted me and said the other Russian is coming,” Anisimov said. “He asked if I know him, I said I don’t recognize his name. When he came here I recognized his face.”

Apparently they took part in one or two hockey camps together in the past.

Ever since Rykov arrived from the other LA in early January — his sister lives in Los Angeles, California — the two Russians have been dominant for the Nordiques in their NA3HL playoff push. In 15 games Rykov has racked up 26 goals and 27 assists for 53 points. His 3.53 points-per-game is tops in the NA3HL.

“We are on (Robichaud’s) top scoring line and that’s why we get a lot of ice time because we produce points,” Rykov said through Anisimov, who was translating for him.

The Nordiques open the Coastal Division semifinals this weekend against the Long Beach Sharks. All three games will be at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee with the start times for game one and game two will be at 7 p.m. for both Friday and Saturday nights. If necessary game three on Sunday will be at 2 p.m.

Prior to Rykov joining, Anisimov had eight goals and 23 assists in 32 games. Very respectable numbers for a team that was getting scoring up and down the lineup. When Rykov joined the team and Anisimov’s line he has had 11 goals and 14 assists in 14 games.

The first half of the season Robichaud wanted Anisimov to fire the puck more, which he started doing in the second half.

“Sometimes you have to do what your coach tells you to do,” Anisimov said.

Anisimov said he’s more of a pass first, shoot second type of player. Adding Rykov to the mix only helped his confidence playing with a fellow countryman.

“I think having both of them has improved our hockey team,” Robichaud said. “When Val got here after Christmas, it really gave a boost to Sergei, whether it be he had someone to speak the native language or the familiar face as they had known of each other prior to Val coming here. It boosted Sergei and got him scoring and having more point production.”

Rykov, who didn’t play any games this season prior to joining the Nordiques, gives credit to his teammates for his quick start. Especially in his first six games, where he racked up 23 points.

“He’s basically saying he likes his linemates, the (defensemen) he’s playing with and the power play playing with,” Anisimov said while translating for Rykov. “He gets a lot of points because of the people who are playing with him.”

The players he usually plays with in addition to Anisimov are forward Joshua Sanchez, defensemen JP Chauvin and Cole Ouellette.

It had been an interesting year for Ryko,v who spent last season with the Palm Beach Hawks organization of the United States Premier Hockey League, where he spent most of his time with the Hawks’ Premier League team. While there he compiled seven goals and eight assists in 25 games.

This year he was a bit of a nomad trying to latch on at the Tier II level before joining the Nordiques.

“I actually went to Wisconsin over the summer to the Janesville Jets of the North American (Hockey) League main (tryout) camp and he was a late cut,” Robichaud said of Rykov. “I got his information and speaking with him over the summer he told me he was going back to Russia to train; then he ended up coming back to the States and tried to hop on a North American League team. It was the middle of the season, but he was practicing with some teams. I think he got to the point he wanted to train and practice, but compete in games.”

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