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Galchenyuk: Good to be back, but best is yet to come

by Alex Galchenyuk
Alex Galchenyuk is a forward for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot, 198-pound forward was born in Milwaukee but is of Russian decent -- his father, Alexander, spent five of his 22 professional seasons playing in the U.S. Alex was the first pick of the 2010 OHL draft, and last season had 31 goals and 52 assists in 68 games. He had 2 goals and an assist in five games for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and returned to take part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Despite suffering a major knee injury that nearly ended his season before it really began, Galchenyuk has maintained a monthly blog for that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Today was a pretty good day. It's been five long months, but I was finally able to play in a game tonight.

Usually I don't sleep the day before a game, but yesterday I slept good. We went to the rink this morning, did some skating, rode the bike. That's when I got really excited. Then I went home, had a pre-game nap, and then my buddy picked me up and we went to the game.

I got to the arena a little earlier than usual. Getting dressed I was obviously nervous -- and excited. I didn't know what to think. It's my first game, so my focus wasn't to go out and score three goals. I just wanted to get into the game, and try not to get embarrassed.

I got to start the game, along with my linemates, Brett Thompson and Charles Sarault. It was strange being on the ice for the anthems. Last year I played all 68 games and didn't even miss a single practice. Most of this season, I was in the press box listening to the anthem. Now I'm standing in skates on the ice. It was a pretty cool experience. Just thinking about trying to get here, waiting for this moment -- it was pretty special.

I got a real nice reaction from the fans when my name was announced for the starting lineup. It was pretty loud and I really appreciated that.

I didn't play as much as I usually would, but tonight was about getting back into game shape, getting my timing back. I talked to the coach before the game and he said how much I played would depend on how I felt. One moment I would feel tired and then the next moment I'd feel fine. Late in the game I got tired and didn't play the last six minutes.

I got hit pretty hard today once and I felt OK. I was pretty happy I got hit. It got me back to some physical play. Because of the schedule I haven't had a lot of practice time and obviously no one on my team is out to hit me hard, so getting that hit early was good.

We lost 7-1 tonight, so it was tough mentally and physically. I know I can play a little bit better. I didn't expect much, I haven't played in five months. But I think I'll be better for the next game.

I'm sore, but you're usually sore after practice or a game. My knee is OK, so that's good.

It was good to get the first game back out of the way. We play London on Friday and that game will be on national television. The focus will be different. For this game, I was just getting used to playing again because I haven't played in five months. On Friday, the focus will be to play like I want to play, be skillful. It's like getting your first goal out of the way. I got it and I don't have to worry about it anymore. I'm excited for London.
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