International Ice Hockey Federation

Kadirova sensational

Kadirova sensational

Fanuza on the road to puck glory

Published 10.01.2016 14:50 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Kadirova sensational
ST. CATHARINES, CANADA - JANUARY 8: Canada vs Russia preliminary round - 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Remember the name Fanuza Kadirova.

Already a seasoned veteran in international hockey at 17 (turning 18 in April), the Russian forward and team captain is one of the most purely talented players at this year’s WW18. Before she retires, she might well become the best female player Russia has ever produced.

The left-handed shooter plays the right wing and uses the angle that strategy affords with great success. She has both great speed to move to the outside and quick hands to cut to the middle.

Kadirova played in her first WW18 at age 15 in 2014 and scored two of the team’s 12 goals. Last year, in Buffalo, she led her team in scoring with five goals and eight points, and she was named to the tournament all-star team as well. She also played in her first senior Women’s Worlds.

“I started skating when I was in kindergarden,” she explained. “I was six years old, and my father taught me to skate on an outdoor rink near our house. Up until I was ten, I skated only on this rink in my village. It was very frustrating when there was no ice. I’d wait all summer for winter to arrive, when I could skate again. This was such an enjoyable time in my life.”

She wears number 17 because of her idol, Ilya Kovalchuk, but more recently she has become a fan of Artemi Panarin, the 24-year-old Russian rookie in the NHL who plays for the Chicago Blackhawks and leads the league in scoring among first year players.

Last year the Russians won the bronze medal, defeating the Czechs 5-1 in the deciding game. Kadirova had a gola and assist in the game, including the winer. Although half of the team is back in 2016, half is also new to the event.

“Compared to last year, we’re still very excited to play, especially since this year we’re in a bigger arena with more fans,” Kadirova continued. “The team is younger this year, but now that this is my third time the coach has given me more of a leadership role. “

Watch Kadirova play and you see a skater with confidence. She dekes with deceptive flair and has great vision, never panicking or forcing a pass, always calmly surveying the ice to consider the best possible decision. Because the Russians lack offense, that best decision is often Kadirova’s signal to take the puck herself. 

As the tournament moves towards the playoffs, Kadirova will be counted upon to lead the attack. If she can be effective, Russia has a great chance of winning another medal. If her opponents manage to contain her, it will be up to her teammates to generate the scoring, a much tougher task.

Regardless, fans watching Russia play need only to look at number 17 for enjoyment. And, at 17 years of age, she’ll be in women’s hockey for many years to come.


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