ELMIRA, N.Y. - At 22 years old, Artem Demkov left his homeland of Belarus to chase his dream. Seven thousand miles later, he has found a home with the Elmira Jackals.
"I love hockey," said Demkov. "I love hits, shots. I love energy. North American hockey, I like it."
Demkov has been an instant spark plug for the Jackals this season, producing 57 points. For Head Coach Pat Bingham, it was one phone call from Artie's agent that sealed the deal."You're going to like this boy. That's what he kept saying," said Bingham. "You're going to like this boy, and we certainly like him a lot here. He's everything he said he was. He's an exteremly hard working guy that goes to the net harder than anyone on our team, despite his size. He loves the game."
To his teammates, Demkov has taken his game to the next level.
"The guy just has a deep passion for the game and loves hockey," said Jordan Pietrus. "He loves coming to the rink and working everyday. Hhe plays the game really hard."
Maybe the hardest part wasn't the hockey, but leaving his family behind overseas. That all changed a few weeks ago.
"Woohoo, wohoo, Artie's wife is coming, Artie's wife is coming. I go see my wife. I kiss my wife. Everybody just wow, this is great."
Demkov now hopes to be the next great hockey star from Eastern Europe.
"My dream is to play big level in the AHL and next NHL."