February 24, 2023
Bonded on and off the ice
With 515 miles between Ukraine and Belarus, only fate would have it that Danylo Sukhonos ’24 and Arkhip ’24 and Filimon ’24 Ledziankou would all find themselves playing junior hockey in Brooklyn, NY. Further fate would have it that all three players would attend The College of St. Scholastica as members of the Saints men’s hockey team. Bonded as Saints, Danylo, Arkhip and Filimon would become exceptionally close friends and teammates despite their countries being on opposite sides of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.
Danylo Sukhonos, finance major with a minor in computer information systems from Kharkiv, Ukraine, and twin brothers Arkhip and Filimon Ledziankou, business management majors with minors in finance from Polotsk, Belarus, reflect on their experience on and off the ice.
Attending St. Scholastica
Danylo: It was one of the first days of August 2020 and I was almost set to join another school in Massachusetts. The former St. Scholastica men’s hockey coach contacted me. I was deeply impressed after an hour conversation with him and realized that even though it was August, I wanted to join the Saints.
Arkhip: We were recruited by the previous men’s hockey head coach.
Filimon: We were recruited by the head coach of The College of St. Scholastica at that time. He seemed like a very intelligent coach that showed more interest in us than other coaches that reached out to us that summer. We also heard that Duluth is a great hockey town, so we were very excited to continue our hockey journey here.
Surprises about the city of Duluth
Danylo: Because of COVID in 2020, I came super late for my freshman year at St. Scholastica. It was mid-October and after the transfer in Chicago, I took a plane to Duluth. When we were landing, there was a snow storm in Duluth and I was more than surprised to see how much snow there was in mid-fall. But I’m absolutely in love with the summers and nature in the city of Duluth.
Arkhip: The weather in winter was probably the most surprising as I did not expect it to be that cold. Another thing that surprised me was the beauty of nature; there are some beautiful spots around here.
Filimon: There is definitely something about people that live here. There are many people that are very kind and caring. I have traveled the world quite a bit and certain people that I have met here have stood out to me in a good way.
The St. Scholastica experience in one word
Danylo: Gratefulness. The St. Scholastica community is surrounded by the greatest people I’ve ever met. Everyone is highly supportive, kind and goal-oriented while also knowing how to have fun. I’m very grateful to God for where I am.
Arkhip: I would use the word “challenge,” simply because coming from another country for college has not been an easy thing to do. It has been an interesting and fun journey so far.
Filimon: Adaptable. There are always difficulties on the way of achieving a certain dream, therefore, any situation that may arise on the way makes me adapt, learn and manage it in a proper manner.
The Saints hockey team
Danylo: It is amazing. Our group is more than a team but a brotherhood where everyone sincerely cares about each other and always has the back of the guy sitting next to him. We are highly organized and have a mutual goal that we fight and work for every day.
Arkhip: We have a really cohesive tight group of guys, despite having some difficulties at the start of the year. I think the team and coaching staff have the same goal which makes us very strong. Coaching staff has been supportive to each of the players and I believe that’s how it should be.
Filimon: I love our team this year. We have a great group of guys working toward the same goal of winning the national championship. We try to make each other better by working hard during our practice times, as well as getting to know each other every day in life outside of hockey. Our coaching staff is doing a great job by keeping us accountable and also providing everything we need so that we can succeed when it’s show time.
Proudest accomplishment in hockey
Danylo: As a team player, it was definitely representing team Ukraine U20 at the world championship. Individually, it was setting a record and becoming the most scoring defensemen in a league with 60 teams in my last year in juniors right before coming to St. Scholastica. If I’m being honest, the actual proudest moment is the [MIAC championship]!
Arkhip: Personal accomplishments would not be done without my teammates. I think this year has been very good for us as a team and I’m proud that we were first place in the MIAC division.
Filimon: Being chosen to play among 23 best players of my age in Belarus for almost 2 years at the age of 16. Additionally, playing for my country in several tournaments against some of the best players in the entire world.
Best piece of advice
Danylo: “Every first move has to be fake.” My Ukrainian coach used to teach that your opponent should never know your next move or what to expect. This is why I had a habit back in those days that every first move should be a fake.
Arkhip: “Paying attention to small details will lead you to success.”
Filimon: “Always keep working hard no matter what challenges come along the way.” It doesn’t just apply to hockey; it is something that motivates me to push myself to the limits on a daily basis in everything that I do in life. Additionally, being able to show my parents that the time that they put into my brother and me was not wasted is one of the main things that pushes me to be the best version of myself on the ice.
Adjusting to a new culture
Danylo: The hardest parts were definitely how open people are in the US and the language. Everyone is smiling, asking how you are, and in most cases, are happy; no one rushes anywhere. Also, I had absolutely no English when I came for my first year of junior hockey.
Arkhip: Being in the United States for about three years before college has helped a lot to adjust to a new culture. The easiest aspect is probably adjusting to new people and their values. The most challenging part was the language aspect.
Filimon: Having teammates to ask if we had any questions about something helped. Most challenging was definitely the language barrier. The transition from learning the basics of English in school to being able to hold a conversation with people was definitely not easy.
Family and friends from back home
Danylo: Everyone’s very happy for me. Back home, getting a higher degree in the USA is considered a top achievement.
Arkhip: From what they hear from me, they think it is a great place to be. Being able to play hockey at the collegiate level while receiving a bachelor degree is something that my family is proud of. They support us during the hard times and we are so thankful for them.
Filimon: I think they would like to come see this place one day. I have always said positive things about this place. Teachers, coaches, etc. have welcomed us with open arms which is pretty special to us as we continue to show everybody that this is a special place to be in.
Relationship with your teammates
Danylo: Arkhip, Fil and I played two years of junior hockey together in Brooklyn, NY. Besides becoming close friends, we also had amazing chemistry on the ice due to our background experience in eastern European hockey. I remember one month we had 99 points combined in just 11 games between us three. We were planning on going to college hockey together as well. It’s my fifth year in a team with them, and besides hockey, we have shared quite a few moments. At this point, they know me better than my family or anyone, so I can describe our relationship as brothers for life.
Arkhip: Our relationship is very unique because we knew each other for two years before college. Danylo is a great guy who will support you in any situation of your life. Obviously, I have known my brother well since we were born; our relationship is special too. It makes it easier to go through challenges while having these two guys by your side. We lived together our freshman year, and it was very fun and helped a lot to adjust to college.
Filimon: One of them is my twin brother; he’s been by my side since the time we were born. We are very close to each other which makes our lives easier and more fun. On the other hand, my teammate Danya has become one of my closest friends in life. We met each other in my second year of living in the US and right away got along with each other because our paths of getting here were pretty similar. Both of them play a big role in my life and I am very lucky to have people like them in my life.
Together, as part of the team
The three players have a shared background in eastern European hockey with Danylo as a defenseman and Arkhip and Filimon both as forwards.
The players assisted the men’s hockey team to recently claim the first-ever regular season MIAC championship in school and program history since joining the conference in 2021. This was their first conference championship since 1975. The men’s hockey team concluded their season at a 17-7-3 record after falling to Augsburg University in the MIAC playoff championship on Saturday, March 4.
Congratulations to Danylo, Arkhip, Filimon and the rest of the Saints hockey team for a historical hockey season!