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Player Diaries

World Cup diary: Vladimir Tarasenko

Team Russia forward has eyes on semifinals, enjoying experience with family

by Vladimir Tarasenko / Special to

St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko is playing for Team Russia at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. The 24-year-old has agreed to keep a diary throughout the tournament, which runs through Oct. 1.

In his latest installment, Tarasenko talks about Team Russia being in another must-win situation and his 71-year-old grandfather making his first trip to North America to see him play in the World Cup.

TORONTO -- The past few days here at the World Cup have been really hard and also a fun time.

After losing our first game to Team Sweden on Sunday, we had to defeat Team North America on Monday to stay alive for a semifinal berth. It was one game and either you're in or you're out.

I think we played better. Our goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, played really well and we won 4-3. Now we have one win and we need a second one against Team Finland in our final preliminary round game Thursday (3 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVA Sports).

Video: RUS@NAT: Tarasenko spins and scores through a screen

Our fate in the tournament is on the line again. All we need to do is just go on the ice and play our best to help our team go to the semifinals.

We were confident going into the game Monday. We have really good players. But Team North America also has a really good team and good players. They play hard, they play fast and they play with emotions. That was a really important win for us.

Now we play Team Finland. We've had a couple of tough losses against them in international play the past few years, especially in the quarterfinals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. So we have something to get back Thursday. We just need to win one more game.

I probably won't watch the games Wednesday. I'll just try to spend some time with my family, walk around Toronto, and maybe go to the Hockey Hall of Fame and try to have fun. I've never been to the Hall of Fame before.

My grandpa, my wife and my two sons are here in Toronto with me. On Tuesday we went to the World Cup Fan Village in the Distillery District and we all had a good time.

My whole family is cheering for me, especially my youngest son, Aleksandr. He's 4 months old and he saw his first game ever here.

My grandpa is 71 years old and this is his first time across the Atlantic Ocean. At home in Russia, my grandpa watches all the Blues games on the internet. He has and he watches every game. He wakes up early and follows me.

I think this was the dream of his life, to see his grandson play somewhere other than Russia, especially at this World Cup and in the NHL. After the World Cup he's going to come with me to St. Louis and he'll be there for the Blues' home opener and a couple of other games.

It's crazy. I still can't believe he's here, so every day I tell him, "You finally made it."

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