Originally created 12/02/99

Russian winger surprises



The nameplate on the back of his sweater alerts the opponent to his background. But before long, Andrei Chouroupov shows everyone on the ice he is not the typical European player, the flash-and-dash stylist who craves wide open ice and avoids contact.

Take, for example, the 21-year-old Russian's first shift on the penalty killing unit for the Augusta Lynx, which came Saturday in the first period against defending Kelly Cup champion Mississippi.

In less than one minute of ice time, Chouroupov single-handedly prevented Mississippi from setting up its power play, leveling a triumvirate of Sea Wolves with three bone jarring neutral-zone hits.

More importantly, he embedded a message firmly in the enemies' heads, a message that surely stuck with the Sea Wolves long after the Lynx captured a 3-2 overtime victory.

"He's not a typical European player, trying to avoid contact and flying around the ice at 100 miles an hour," said Lynx coach Dan Wiebe, who acquired Chouroupov last week in a trade with the Toledo Storm for playerassistant coach Mark Desantis.

"Andrei has to take the body to be effective, but he's also a really good skater who sees the ice well and has a lot of skill. He can do a lot of different things on the ice. I think he's going to work out great for our hockey club."

Toledo coach Todd Gordon would agree.

Although DeSantis provides the steady veteran presence on the blueline and the outspoken voice in the dressing room the Storm needed, Gordon admits it wasn't easy giving up a burgeoning star in Chouroupov.

"You've got to give up quality to get quality, and Andrei is definitely a quality hockey player and a great guy," Gordon said. "He's talented, his work ethic is outstanding, he's very professional and very upbeat, and he never gets down. I think people in Augusta will be very happy with Andrei. He's a bonafide player in this league."

Chouroupov (pronounced show-ROO-pahv) simply wants to fit in and help the Lynx get on track after a miserable 5-14-1 start to their second season in Augusta.

"I was kind of surprised with the trade at first, but after being around for a few days now and talking with all the guys, I know this is a good place to be," the native of Moscow said as the Lynx were gearing up for tonight's Southeast Division showdown with rival Pee Dee (13-3-1).

"I think we're going to turn things around and be all right, and I would love to help. Hopefully, that's the reason they brought me here."

As a rookie last season, Chouroupov played 30 games for Toledo, scoring seven goals and adding 12 assists. His season was twice cut short, first by a concussion and later in the year by a shoulder injury.

Over the summer, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder added considerable size and strength and opened this season with a flurry, netting his first career hat trick in Toledo's opening-night victory.

Chouroupov was Toledo's third-leading scorer with six goals and seven assists in 15 games, playing primarily as the Storm's second-line center.

For now, he is playing left wing on Augusta's third line with Stacey Rayan at center and Chris Thompson at right wing, but should move up if he continues to dazzle his new coach and teammates.

"I'm definitely impressed with him with because he's a big kid who looks like he can score and finishes his checks," forward Dean Tiltgen said. "He's fit right in and adds depth to our three lines."

After limited ice time in his debut Friday in a loss to Mobile, Chouroupov tallied an assist and scored a goal in the overtime shootout Saturday against Mississippi. He followed that with his first goal as a Lynx in Sunday's 6-0 victory over Arkansas.

"He has the potential to move up and will be used in a variety of roles," Wiebe said. "He adds another element to our power play and penalty killing units and also showed he can help in the shootout. I'm real excited about Andrei. I think he's a great addition."