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Samorukov makes an impressive return from World Junior duty

'Hockey is our life, so let's play hockey' says Guelph Storm defenceman about playing seven games in 11 days

Dmitri Samorukov didn't take long to lick his wounds from Team Russia's disappointing quarter-final loss at the World Juniors.

After playing five games in eight days as a member of his country's national junior squad, he called Guelph Storm coach/general manager George Burnett and told him he wanted to be back in the Storm lineup Thursday in Niagara Falls.

Samorukov scored in that game and then scored again Friday night in a big 4-1 win over the Owen Sound Attack at the Sleeman Centre.

He also had an assist and was a plus-4 on the night.

Samorukov, who has played seven games in 11 days, took it all in stride.

"Yeah, it's a lot of games, but hockey is our life. So let's play hockey," said Samorukov.

"I want to help my team. I don't care about myself, I just want to help the team"

He said the World Juniors was a great experience despite the result.

"It's an unbelievable feeling when you're with a group of guys who are older than you. They know how to be a team, like being a family. It was a good experience for me and I learned a lot," Samorukov said.

A year ago the Edmonton Oilers fourth round draft pick wouldn't have been able to conduct an interview in English. Now his English is excellent and he credits that with part of the reason for his improved play.

"Last year my English was terrible. So now I understand what the coaches want and I understand the other players and I can say something too. It's much easier when you can talk," he said.

Samorukov's dedication hasn't gone unnoticed by Burnett.

"He called me two nights ago at 12:30 and said 'I'll be ready to go in Niagara' and was excited to be back Not everybody would come back with that excitement," Burnett said.

"I know he was disappointed with the results with his national team, but it's a great thrill to be in that tournament, especially as an underage player, and he probably gets a chance to do it again next year."

Samorukov was a year younger than most of his Russian teammates at the tournament.

He was one of several players who had big games Friday against Owen Sound, most notably Givani Smith, who scored twice, Liam Hawel, who had three assists, and James McEwan, who had a goal and two assists.

Anthony Popovich made 43 saves in the Storm net.

Guelph led 1-0 after one period and 3-1 after two against the Attack, a struggling squad that many picked to win the Western Conference. They now sit in seventh place, just three points up on ninth place Erie.

Guelph is back at it Sunday when the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds visit.