Longtime California youth hockey coach Igor Nikulin passed away on Monday after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
Nikulin was an influential coaching force in Southern California since his arrival in 1996, leading Los Angeles Jr. Kings teams to three USA Hockey national championships, including the state’s first-ever Tier I title in 2000 at the Pee Wee level.
A native of Kiev, Ukraine, Nikulin began his local coaching career with the Burbank Golden Bears. Since 1998, he coached within the Jr. Kings and LA Hockey Club/LA Selects programs where he led his teams to a number of Southern California Amateur Hockey Association, California Amateur Hockey Association and Pacific District championships.
Growing up, Nikulin played for the elite Hockey Club Sokil Kyiv in his hometown before joining a top league in Slovakia. After his playing days, he went on to earn bachelor’s degrees in teaching and coaching from the University of Physical Education and High Coaching School, respectively.
Nikulin, who led the prestigious California Brick tournament team for 17 years, also guided California all-star teams to International B division championships at the famed Quebec International Pee Wee Tournament in 1997 and ‘99.
He is survived by his wife, Irina Nikulina of Beverly Hills; daughter Olga Nikulina of Los Angeles; and brothers Evgeny and Oleg of Kiev, Ukraine.