Levshunov speaking hockey language well in GB
BY GREG BATES
ASHWAUBENON – When Artyom Levshunov moved to the United States earlier this year, the language barrier posed a problem for the teenager.
The then-16-year-old from Belarus was in America for the first time to play hockey for the Green Bay Gamblers.
Picking up English was difficult, but once on the ice, Levshunov was speaking the language of hockey, and everything was copacetic.
The talented hockey player was in his element.
“When we first met him, he didn’t speak much, but he kind of opened up,” Gamblers goalie Kristoffer Eberly said. “He’s been really good. He’s super skilled, and I think when he’s got the puck, it’s hard to get the puck off of him. I think he’s a really great offensive defenseman and he’s locked down in our zone as well. He’s got everything going for him.”
Levshunov — who goes by “Arty” — has fit right in with his teammates and coaches with the Gamblers.
“My teammates helped me when I arrived in Green Bay for the first time,” said the soft-spoken Levshunov. “For me, it was so hard. My English, it’s getting better, but my first time I spoke so-so. Now, I’m working on it.”
Gamblers assistant coach Pat McCadden called Levshunov an unbelievable kid who has worked extremely hard on learning the local language.
“He’s learned a ton and you can almost have a full conversation with him now. He understands most things,” McCadden said. “He’s a really smart kid. He’s quiet at first, but once you get to know him and he kind of opens up you can tell his smarts are not just on the ice, he’s a very smart kid off the ice as well.”
Levshunov, who was selected by the Gamblers 111th overall in the 2022 USHL Phase II Draft last May, is feeling more comfortable each and every day and on and off the ice.
“I feel like he’s settled right in,” Gamblers forward Eli Sebastian said. “He’s a really good offensive defenseman and we’re super happy to have him. Obviously, he’s still young but even in like the first 20 games, the steps he’s taken in his game have been enormous. I know that as the season goes on he’s going to continue to become better and better.”
Prior to heading to America, Levshunov played for the Belarus U17, U18 and U20 teams. For the U18 squad last season, Levshunov put up 63 points in 46 games.
Going from playing hockey in Belarus to the United States Hockey League (USHL) is a big jump. However, the right-handed shooting defenseman, who measures up at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, has transitioned very smoothly.
“I think it’s fast hockey and more skilled players here,” Levshunov said. “In Belarus, I think it’s good, too. But here in America, everyone wants to play here. I like American hockey.”
In his first 23 games with the Gamblers, Levshunov has tallied 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists). He was named the USHL defenseman of the week the first weekend in November after logging two goals and three assists.
“From an on-ice standpoint, you look at how well he’s done offensively as a defenseman,” said McCadden, who during his career played for the Gamblers and at St. Norbert. “He was 16 years old when he started the season with us, so he’s the youngest player on the roster. It’s special what he can
do. I guess that’s probably the best word that I can use to describe Arty when he has the puck on his stick. Some of the things he does, it’s just you can’t teach. He just makes things happen out of nothing. He’s got a special talent where he can almost slow the game down and make plays out of nothing and even from a skating standpoint, he’s just incredibly gifted. The reality is he’s a top prospect for the 2024 NHL Draft.
“He’s fun to coach. You don’t get to coach players with that skill set every day, so it’s been a lot of fun, especially for me running the D core on the back end during games.”
Watching Levshunov from his net, Eberly can see the talent of the young international player.
“I like how smooth he is,” Eberly said. “He’s really smooth with the puck and he can get around guys, and he’s got a great shot as well.”
With Levshunov being eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft, his future looks bright. He doesn’t know his plans yet for next season, he’s just living in the moment this season playing hockey in the United States.
“It’s my first time in America. I love to be here,” Levshunov said. “I think now we have good players, good coaches. I like this team.”