Bienne signed the young Russian defenseman Alexander Yakovenko for the remainder of the season. He is the first Russian – if we exclude Alexei Dostoinov who plays with a Swiss licence – to play for the Seeländer after Andrei Zyuzin who collected 13 appearances (2 assists) during the 2011-12 season.
Date of Birth: 22 febbraio 1998
Alexander Yakovenko was born on February 22nd, 1998, that is the day after Bienne had earned a 7-1 win against the GCK in game-3 of the LNB quarterfinal series. That season, the Seeländer made it all the way to the final but eventually lost it 3-1 overall against Langnau.
Junior hockey in Russia
Alexander’s father, Sergei Yakovenko who also represented Kazakhstan at international level, was a player in Russia when his son was born… Alexander then played junior hockey in Russia too. More precisely, he played for Traktor Chelyabinks U17 and U18 during the 2014-15 season and even represented Russia at the U17 and U18 Worlds.
Between 2015 and 2017, Alexander Yakovenko was always in Russia and he played in the MHL and in the MHL. He wore the jerseys of Team Russia U18 (with which he played at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup), of Chelmet Chelyabinsk and Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk. Then, the great attempt…
Alexander in fact, starting from the second part of the 2017-18 season, played overseas. He joined the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) and he remained there until the summer of 2019. In the USHL, he collected a total of 98 appearances tallying 75 points. He was even the third best scorer of the team during the 2018-19 season.
Finland… and Switzerland
Last summer then, Alexander Yakovenko moved back to this side of the ocean and signed a contract with Jukurit in the Finnish Liiga. In the Liiga, he proved to be a very talented player and, even though his team struggled – Jukurit is currently 14th placed – the Russian defenseman tallied 21 points in 36 games and was the second best scorer behind Vadim Pereskokov who recently joined Lausanne.
In order to get to know more about him though, we got in touch with someone who’s been following him from close in the recent past. We had therefore the pleasure to talk to Ville Niskanen, journalist at “Länsi-Savo”, newspaper of Mikkeli, who follows Jukurit. Below, his impression on Alexander Yakovenko.
I did an interview with Alex just couple of weeks ago. It takes certain character to leave your homeland at young age and pursue your career in different environment. That is what Alex did when he moved to United States to play local minor hockey in the USHL. He is very determined with his future as a hockey professional.
Of course, he’s a young player so his weaknesses are quite clear. Alex has made occasional defensive mistakes and physical play is not his greatest strength. I would say that when he gains more experience, his defensive play will improve. It must be remembered that this is his first year in professional hockey.
Which leads us to his strengths. Yakovenko is an extremely talented player and with a great puck control. He’s a very good passer and skater. Even though this is his first year in Finnish league, he has been one of Jukurit’s key players. Even more can be hoped next season, when he returns to Mikkeli.
Alex’s father Sergei Yakovenko represented Kazahkstan at international level and as you may know, Alex was born in Kazahkstan as well. But he only holds Russian passport. And his grandfather played ice hockey as well.
Thank you very much Ville!
Alexander Yakovenko is very young and yet already sort of experienced. Moreover, he was already playing a key role in a team of the Finnish Liiga. That’s not nothing… It’s soon to say if he can find some space in Bienne. However, in case, we just can’t wait to see this talented guy in action!
Welcome to Switzerland, Alex!
Alexander Yakovenko had a great time in the USHL. The following article (in English) is a must read, it talks about Alex, his potential and the record he broke overseas.