The United States and Russia traditionally have not been more than cordial in many ways. Look no further than the Cold War and the continued stand-off over Ukraine.
Gleb Veremyev is simultaneously proud of his Russian heritage and a first-generation American. One way he can meld these identities together is through his love for hockey.
Hockey and Russia go hand in hand. For Veremyev, he knows that all too well.
The 18-year-old Lincoln Stars forward put his first pair of skates on at just two years old and now his dream of playing in the NHL is just a few strides away. It’s not his shiny destination that keeps him going, it’s what is behind him that drives his work ethic.
When someone sees the name “Veremyev” on the back of a
jersey their first thought might be “he’s not American.” Little do they know they are looking for a proud first-generation American citizen, but the pride of Russia is still also flowing through his veins. It all goes back to the Soviet Union era, when Veremyev’s parents resided in what is now present-day Russia.
“If there was one sport the Soviets were known for it was hockey,” Veremyev said.
After Veremyev’s parents moved to the United States it made sense that their kids would play their home nation’s pastime. His hockey career started in his home state of New Jersey.
Veremyev’s hockey career has been heavily influenced by Russian culture. His first coach was Vlad Kouredov, an ex-Soviet Elite league hockey player.
“As a young hockey player, it was comforting being able to speak Russian with my coaches but once I got older, I learned English and I was coached by English-speaking coaches,” Veremyev said.
Veremyev’s path to the Lincoln Stars is a winding road. It all started when he took his first strides at Rock Ice in Dunellen, N.J. His first organized team was the New York Aviators located in Brooklyn, N.Y.
He then continued to bounce around on travel teams all located in the Northeast. Veremyev also had the opportunity to represent the United States in the U17 world games in Füssen, Germany.
But his accomplishments and career would be nowhere if it wasn’t for his parents and he is well aware of that.
“Whenever I’m on the ice, I’m playing for the people who got me here,” he said. “My mom and dad sacrificed everything to make my family’s life better. They are my ‘why’.”
“Knowing that my mom and dad started from nothing and had to work for everything motivates me to give my all on the ice.”
On the ice, Veremyev sticks amongst the rest, standing at 6’5” and weighing in at 200 pounds. In a recent game against Omaha, Veremyev scored one goal and broke an opposing player’s nose in a fight.
“He’s not scared to show the opposing team that its not easy to come into the Ice Box and play the Lincoln Stars,” said coach Rocky Russo. “He is a gritty player and it shows. He’s not scared to get a little bloody.”
It’s not just on the ice where Veremyev shines. He’s also a one-of-a-kind teammate.
“You like to be around guys like (Veremyev) because he brings a smile to everyone’s face,
but when it’s time to practice or play, he is locked in,” teammate Griffin Jurecki said. “He’s the type of guy who makes everyone around him better. He’s very physical and uses his body very well but he’s also very versatile. It’s kind of a one-two punch.”
There’s a lot that makes up Veremyev. Passion, pride, physicality, and all of that is the perfect recipe for a good hockey player. Veremyev has a long journey ahead of him but that end goal is well worth the time and effort. Every time Veremyev takes the ice, he hopes he’s one step closer to playing in an NHL rink.