SAN JOSE, Calif. - Coyotes rookie Viktor Tikhonov
’s training camp experience took a surreal turn Tuesday night when he played an NHL game, albeit a preseason one, inside HP Pavilion for the first time.
Tikhonov, 20, grew up about 10 minutes from the arena, in Los Gatos, Calif., while his father served as an assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks for seven years.
Suffice to say, Tikhonov knows the building well.
“When my dad was coaching here, I got to go on the ice for maybe four or five hours after the Sharks would practice,” Tikhonov said. “It was great.”
Tikhonov estimated he had between 30 to 40 friends and family members at Tuesday’s game cheering him on. He played 17 minutes.
“It’s really like a dream come true because I always wanted to play here,” Tikhonov said after the game. “I always imagined myself skating out of the Shark's mouth at the beginning (of games), but you know, I guess this is even better because it’s the same level and I finally made it.”
Tikhonov has had an impressive training camp. So much so that Head Coach Wayne Gretzky indicated Tuesday that Tikhonov would make the regular-season roster and that he likely would play on a line with Daniel Winnik and Martin Hanzal