When Serhii Nikulin left his native city of Kharkiv in the Ukraine for Boston late last summer, he never imagined that his country would just seven months later be plunged into a maelstrom of violence and destruction.
The 18-year-old defenseman who played AAA hockey for the East Coast Spartans while completing his junior of high school studying at Boston Trinity Academy in Hyde Park, Mass., now finds himself thousands of miles away from his family while the Russian invasion has dominated the world’s attention. It’s tough enough to leave your home and culture to play hockey and study abroad, but the unimaginable stress of watching images of his war-torn country is something very few in the United States can relate to.
“I did not believe it can actually happen,” Nikulin told New England Hockey Journal when asked about the current situation in Ukraine. “I would say nobody could expect it. It was so, so awful, because I came home after my late practice with the Spartans, and I received a message from my parents and my girlfriend, and they wrote me that the war started. I felt like everything fell out from under my legs at that moment.”