Born in Bradenton, Fl, USA., eight-teen-year-old Sasha Pastujov was selected in the third round, 66th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2021 NHL Draft. However, the 2019 draft pick signed an OHL Standard Player Agreement with the Storm in August 2021. Sasha spent the past two seasons with the US National Team Development Program where he led Team USA to a silver medal in the 2019 U17 World Hockey Challenge and to a gold medal at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championships. Sasha has appeared in 23-games this season with the Storm notching 19-goals, 15-assists for 34-points.
HOW IT STARTED
Question: How did you become involved in hockey and at what age?
A: My two older brother’s played hockey, so I was always around the rink, and I just naturally fell in love with the sport. I was around 3-years old when I started skating.
Q: Are there any players you style your game after, and if so, who?
A: I try to style my play after Vladimir Tarasenko, he’s got a good offensive edge. He has a great shot. I also watch a lot of Auston Matthews. Being American, I have kind of followed along a similar path as him, the same developmental route. I’ve started to look up to him and I watch his highlights all the time.
Q: Who would you say is your biggest support system?
A: Definitely my family. My parents, my brothers, they try to watch every game they can. I look to them most for support. They’re always there for me and also let me know when I’m not playing well, so I appreciate both sides.
Q: What would you say is the biggest difference between the USHL and the OHL?
A: There are a lot of similarities, but one of the biggest differences would be the schedule. We played mainly weekend games in the USHL, and the OHL has more weeknight games.
HOW IT’S GOING
Q: How has your experience in Guelph been so far?
A: It’s been great! There is lots to do and the guys have made the move super easy. Since I got here everyone welcomed me in, especially my billets, they took me in and made me feel like part of their family. Since day one the team has been great, and we have good locker room chemistry.
Q: What has been your favourite thing about Canada so far?
A: My favourite thing is probably the exchange rate; I have way more money now. When I got here, I exchanged 100$ and got like 140$ Canadian back.
Q: How would you describe the energy of this year’s team?
A: Everyone is hungry. The team has got a lot of energy for sure. It’s good, it’s fun and its always positive. It makes it easy to come to the rink every day.
Q: What motivates you to work hard?
A: My parents and the sacrifices they made. They’ve done so much for me and my brothers. I work hard so I don’t waste their sacrifices and just always keeping that in the back of my head. I do it for my parents, my brothers, and my grandma. She loves watching all of us play. It’s always extra motivation for me to score and make it worth watching for her.
Q: Tell us one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
A: My mom was a dancer, so I used to dance when I was little. I did some ballet. I also played the trumpet in the sixth grade; I was pretty good at it.
Q: What are you personally working on the most this season?
Definitely my speed. It’s something I know I have work on in order to play at the next level.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: Hopefully playing professionally. It’s always been a dream ever since I was a kid to make hockey my life.
Q: What’s a piece of advice you’d give to someone pursuing an OHL career?
A: Play your game. It’s obviously a step up from wherever you were playing before. Always stick to what works for you and what worked at the levels before. Success will translate if you just stick to your game. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
RANDOM RAPID FIRE
Q: Spotify or Apple music?
Q: Tacos or wings?
A: That’s a tough one, but tacos.
Q: Jeans or sweatpants?
Q: Scary movie or comedy?
Q: Sand or snow?
Q: Pancakes or waffles?
Q: If you could play with any Storm alumni who would it be?
A: I would say Daniil Chayka, but I’ll go Nick Suzuki.
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A: I’d probably stick with Florida.
Q: If you were a superhero, what superpower would you want?
A: Super strength and super speed would be cool. Maybe flying. Really all of them.
Q: What is your go-to cheat meal?
A: I definitely spend way too much money at McDonald’s. Even Chik-Fil-A when I’m back home.
Q: What is your favourite holiday?
A: Probably Christmas or my birthday. Usually, I am back home for my birthday, and get to see my family and friends.
Q: What song would you sing at karaoke night?
A: You Belong with Me by Taylor Swift
Q: Who is your biggest inspiration? And Why?
A: Probably my parents or my grandma. They are the people I look up to every day, talk to every day and are the people I care the most about. They just work really hard. It really inspired me and how much they care about our family. It’s just something I look up to.