YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — When watching Ivan Prosvetov in goal for the Youngstown Phantoms, there are a few things that come to mind immediately. The fact that he’s only 18 years old and already stands at 6 feet 5 inches isn’t shocking, but it’s certainly noteworthy. His speed and agility when in net stands out, too. However, despite those things, it’s the moves he makes as a young goaltender that would cause even the most casual fan pay attention a little more closely.
While the Phantoms dropped their home opener 4-2 to the newly branded Central Illinois Flying Aces Saturday, the game itself wasn’t a huge indication of the type of player Prosvetov is and can be.
“I think he’s a competitor,” head coach Brad Patterson said. “Doesn’t matter where the puck is … I see it all the time in practice when, you know, they have situations, kind of putting the goalie in a tough spot and he battles. He competes. I felt bad tonight (Saturday). I felt there was maybe one he wanted back and a couple bad bounces. But you know, I’ve seen him on a regular basis, and he’s a top-notch goalie. He’s going to be great.”
Prosvetov will have to show that competitive side even more this season, as he and Wouter Peeters will be battling it out for the starting goalie position. That title was reserved for Ivan Kolbakov last season, who signed with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. Peeters was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft, whereas Prosvetov was drafted sixth overall at the KHL entry draft in 2016.
Does that mean Prosvetov will be heading back to Russia to play hockey? Well, not any time soon, at least. Prosvetov played with the Russian U16 team in 2014-15, and then with the Russian U17 team in 2015-16. After that, he came over to the United States to join the Minnesota Magicians of the NAHL for the 2016-17 season. While this is his first season in the USHL, Prosvetov said that he prefers the faster pace of the North American style of play.
“I don’t have a big track record with him,” Patterson said. “But his development curve, talking to our people we know overseas and obviously our staff does a lot of scouting in the (NAHL). You know, he puts in the work over the summer. He’s with the right guys, like Shane Clifford, our goalie coach, who has been working with him and will continue to work with him.”
Clifford has an impressive resume on his own. The former goaltending coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Clifford can count Marc-Andre Fleury amongst his former pupils and is entering his 10th season with Youngstown.
“Here it’s faster, more skilled,” Prosvetov said about transitioning from international to North American style of play. “I adapted, I did lots of work; It’s so much different here. It’s faster hockey. American (style is) much faster.”
Prosvetov’s time playing in these different leagues has been a solid developmental path. He’s a large, agile goalie, and he uses these things to his benefit. Here, rinks are smaller and the plays develop faster. How has that worked into Prosvetov’s development while playing with the Phantoms?
“Here, (it’s a) little rink, (and) lots of pressure,” Prosvetov said. “So you know you need to be ready every minute.”
It’s easy to see when you watch Prosvetov in net that he is, in fact, ready every minute. Whether it’s a quick move to make the right stop, or he’s darting out of the net to play the puck, almost every play he makes seems to have a smart reasoning behind it. He has a calm air surrounding him, which can be nothing but beneficial as he grows and continues to develop.
“He’s willing to learn, and that’s the biggest thing,” Patterson said. “He’s a competitor, and when you’re able to adjust and adapt to different styles of games, it’s a tremendous credit to him.”
Prosvetov’s ability to compete, adjust and adapt may just be his own personal path to developmental success.