Egor Sokolov led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in goals this season, but he's scoring even bigger points with the citizens of his adopted hometown in Sydney, Nova Scotia, by delivering groceries to those unable to leave their homes due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Sokolov's season with Cape Breton ended March 23 when the Canadian Hockey League announced the cancellation of the playoffs for the QMJHL, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League, and the Memorial Cup.
"I wanted to give back to Cape Breton for what it has done for me the past three years and for my billet family (Ashley and Kyle Ryan) for the amount of time they've spent with me and making this feel like home because I'm very far away from my country (Russia)," Sokolov said.
The 19-year-old forward from Yekaterinburg, Russia, passed over in the NHL Draft the previous two years, led the QMJHL with 46 goals and 10 game-winning goals, and was third with 92 points in 52 games this season, his third with Cape Breton.
He's been delivering groceries to family and friends of his billet family. Ashley and Kyle Ryan are owners of Foodland, a grocery store in Sydney. They thought of the idea of creating a social media platform for family and friends in need of having groceries delivered if they couldn't leave their home.
"[Ashley] knows families with little kids who have immune system problems, so she made the page on Facebook, takes the orders and collects the money, packages the orders each morning and then I deliver them in the afternoon," Sokolov said. "I do a workout when I get up in the morning, then go to the store in the afternoon and deliver everything.
"I'm really enjoying it."
Sokolov began making deliveries on March 23 and has averaged six to eight trips a day.
"I want to help people who can't really go outside of their homes right now," Sokolov said. "I don't think there are any cases in Sydney yet, but my message is to just try to stay home and don't go outside if you don't have to. It's hard times, but we have to fight against that and the best way for families to fight against that is to stay at home."
To his surprise, one delivery was to one of his biggest fans.
"I knew him from the year because he was one fan who always wanted to take pictures with me; I was like his favorite player," Sokolov said. "He left my No. 26 jersey on the door and put a sign up in the window that said, 'Thank you Egor!'
"It's been really nice to see the reactions of people when I'm coming up to the front porch. They wave in the window and I see those kids. I just try to make everyone feel happy right now in these really tough times so it's just the part of me to help people."
Sokolov was born in Yekaterinaburg, Russia, and played for the Traktor Chelyabinsk's youth teams before joining Cape Breton in 2017-18. He had four points (three goals, one assist) in seven games for second-place Russia in the IIHF 2020 World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic and represented the Columbus Blue Jackets as a free agent invitee at the Traverse City Prospects tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, the past two seasons. He was also invited to the Blue Jackets main camp in September.
"I learned a lot in Traverse City; how guys competed and how fast the hockey is here because you have to make a decision really quick," Sokolov said. "If you have a shot, take it and don't spend an extra second to make any other decisions."
Sokolov said he would like nothing more than to be selected in the 2020 NHL Draft.
"Obviously it's something I'm dreaming about," he said. "The past two years I haven't been picked so it gave me an extra push this year and I think those hours I put up in the gym and on the ice last summer paid off and I'm hoping for the best. We'll see what happens.
"Right now, it's about helping each other."