Former Ontario Hockey League goaltender Igor Bobkov has returned to his native Russia for the 2015-16 season. After a season split between the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL and the Utah Grizzlies in the ECHL, Bobkov has signed a two year deal to play between the pipes with Admiral Vladivostok of the KHL.
Igor played two years in the OHL, 2010-11 and 2011-12. He was picked by the London Knights 53rd overall at the 2010 CHL Import Draft and played his first year with the Knights. Bobkov played 21 regular season and three playoff games for London with Michael Houser taking the number one role with the team.
In his second year, Bobkov found himself as the number one goalie with the second worst team in the OHL. He played 58 games for the Kingston Frontenacs, posting a 3.64 goals against average and .902 save percentage, along with one shutout. The Frontenacs finished last in the Eastern Conference and were better than just the Erie Otters in the overall standings.
Twice, Igor played for Russia at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. In 2010, he was the number one goalie for Russia at the tournament held in Saskatchewan. He played six games and put up a 2.45 GAA while leading the tournament with a .930 save percentage. Russia was upset in the quarter-final by Switzerland 3-2 in overtime.
In 2011 at Buffalo, New York, Igor was relegated to the backup role with Dmitri Shikin seeing the bulk of action for the Russians. However, in the final game, with Russia down 3-0 early to Canada, Bobkov was put in and stoned the Canadians. Five unanswered goals in the third period gave Russia the gold medal.
The Anaheim Ducks selected Bobkov in the third round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, 76th overall. His first North American pro action came in 2010-11 when he appeared in two games for the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. Since 2012-13, Igor has played in the AHL and ECHL. He has been called up to the Ducks but never got on the ice.
In 2014-15, Igor played seven games in the AHL for the Norfolk Admirals. In the ECHL, he played 34 regular season games for the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, putting up great numbers with a 2.58 GAA, .918 save percentage and four shutouts. In the Kelly Cup playoffs, he played ten games for the Grizzlies as the team lost in the second round to the Ontario Reign.
Igor Bobkov has signed for two years through 2016-17 with Admiral Vladivostok.
An expansion team in the KHL for the 2013-14 season, Admiral plays out of the 5,500 seat Fetisov Arena in Vladivostok, Russia, a venue that opened in 2013. The team’s president is former NHLer Alexander Mogilny. Fetisov Arena is named for Viacheslav ‘Slava’ Fetisov, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame since 2001. Ironically, Fetisov is from Moscow and has never played in Vladivostok.
In their two years, Admiral have yet to win a playoff series. They did not qualify this past season, 2014-15, and lost in the conference quarter-finals in 2013-14 to Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Vladivostok is a city in the far south east of Russia, near the borders with North Korea and China. The city of 590,000 is much closer to Japan, just across the Sea of Japan, than it is to Moscow and the rest of Russia. The city is the birthplace of actor Yul Brynner.