Arturs Silvos on winning bronze, a fave goalie and his perfect day off

Arturs Silovs already has a good book of work that could allow the 6-foot-4 stopper to have a sense of entitlement. But he’s not wired that way.

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Arturs Silovs is still sweating and slumped in his stall.

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He hasn’t removed his practice jersey or any equipment and his teammates are long gone to take advantage of a sunny afternoon.

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The Vancouver Canucks’ prospect goaltender knows the rite of passage to the NHL is a long and winding road. It often involves pre-practice instruction, the actual practice and staying out late to accommodate those who want to work on their shots, trip drills or other skills.

“Two hours on the ice,” the 22-year-old Silovs said with a slight groan Monday.

It wasn’t a complaint. It was like anybody putting in extra work to take their occupation to another level.

Silovs already has a good book of work that could allow the 6-foot-4 stopper to have a sense of entitlement. But he’s not wired that way. Eventually getting to and staying in ‘The Show’ is a strategic sojourn that requires respect and reflection.

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“There’s a time,” Silovs stressed. “You have to be patient. You can’t be like: ‘I know it and I’m good enough to play.’ You have to wait for your opportunity and work it through. They (Canucks) see you playing in the AHL and you have to stick with it.

“Play the games. Show that you’re a reliable guy and have consistency. And when you show it here (NHL), they have more trust in you.”

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Abbotsford Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs stretches to make an AHL save against the Laval Rocket on Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Christinne Muschi Christinne M /The Canadian Press

What works for Silovs is his game and demeanour. No matter the stage, he has been efficient, exuberant and endearing. He was recalled from the AHL affiliate in Abbotsford on March 12 to back up Casey DeSmith as Thatcher Demko recovers from a knee injury.

The career trajectory for Silovs is arcing like a rocket, but it hasn’t been easy. His NHL launch was rough.

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His first regular-season start — a 6-4 loss to the high-octane New York Rangers at Rogers Arena on Feb. 15, 2023 — included allowing two goals on the first four shots.

Mika Zibanejad raced down the wing, faked a wrister and Silovs opened up the wickets to allow a five-hole goal. Artemi Panarin then followed by taking a cross-ice feed and whipping a shot home before Silovs could get from post-to-post. Two goals in 72 seconds.

However, then there was backstopping his native Latvia to a bronze medal with an MVP performance at the world championship on May 28 in Finland. It was the country’s first event medal.

Here’s our weekly Q+A with the engaging Silovs:

Q: What did it mean to win bronze at the world championship?

A: It meant a lot. Everyone was happy. It was like a national holiday. I found it easier to play. I felt coming from Canada, the game there was much slower because the rinks are bigger. It’s not like shots are creeping in and you always have to be ready. I felt I had much more time with the (penalty kill) and more time to think and be aware.

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Q: How did you go 7-2-0, with a 2.2 GAA and a .921 save percentage?

A: There was always a thought we could win against Canada in the semifinals. We could have played in the final, and who knows, maybe win? It was great, but I always have that thing where I think I could have played a little bit better. I have that kind of in my head always. A goal or situation you could have handled better.

Q: Which goalies do you admire? Can you copy a style?

A: I looked a lot at (Jonathan) Quick’s game. He was really agile and competitive and was always spreading and making split saves. I’m sort of like him. I can do splits, but I don’t really like to try his way because he’s really aggressive. I try to use my abilities and my whole package.

Q: How has your demeanour kept you calm in the net?

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A: Let the game come to you. You don’t really have to be stressed out about it. Wait for the moment that you have worked for to see the puck and make the save. It’s a great opportunity to play at this level to show the world how you can play. Relax. Do your thing and use your instincts.

Q: How did you process that debut against the Rangers?

A: It was more learning. They have much higher skill than other players and you learn what they’re actually going to do. They score on you, but later, you realize what they’re capable of and then you’re more calm and patient with those guys. You try to make them make the first move.

Q: What have you learned from watching Demko?

A: How calm and patient he is and how he executes movements, all the little things that are as big as the game itself. When you score, there’s going to be a pushback, and you have to maintain the score. If you manage to do that, the game gets calmer.

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Q: Abbotsford is the youngest AHL team. A challenge?

A: You have to always be alert. Things happen. Turnovers happen. You have to be the guy to help the team be calm on the bench and making sure every time you’re on defence, you’re not panicking. Make a save. Regroup. And go from there.

Q: How did your hockey journey start in Latvia?

A: I was in Ventspils (population 32,948) until 10 and moved to the capital (Riga). I hung out with friends and hockey was just part-time and fun. I was swimming and doing basketball and playing three or four sports.

I started skating at age three and was a winger and centre and switched to goalie at age six. I wanted to try it and the coaches said I looked good and should stick with it.

Q: Did you watch Dinamo Riga, the former KHL team?

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A: It was always fun to watch the goalies — Mikael Tellqvist and Chris Holt —  and the games were a big thing back home. Sold out almost every game.

Q: What’s the perfect off day in the Vancouver area?

A: I usually go on a boat in Deep Cove and take a paddle board. I play a little PlayStation, but not as much as back in the day. It depends on my mood and how the day is going. If it’s raining, what are you going to do? Watch a movie and just relax and recovery is really important. You have to take care of yourself every day. I can cook (Latvian food) but like to go out for Japanese.

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