Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sylvester, Humphries, Macek Update

Macek bound for Germany

Brook Macek is embracing his German roots for the next step in his hockey journey.

After finishing a five-year WHL career, the 21-year-old recently signed a two-year deal with the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (The top professional league in Germany).

“My agent was talking to some teams over in Germany because I had the potential to get the dual citizenship,” Macek recently told HitmenHockey.com. “There were a couple of different teams with a couple of different offers. The two-year deal with Iserlohn was the best fit.”

Macek set career-highs with the Hitmen last season, potting 80 points for second on the team.

Being of German decent, Macek is eligible for the dual-citizenship and does not take up an import spot on the Roosters roster.

Based in west Germany, Iserlohn is looking to rebound from a dismall 2013 season, finishing second-last in the 14 team league.

“They struggled a bit last year so they are looking for some new guys to come in,” Macek said.
He doesn’t know anyone playing on the team, but the roster features a few former NHLers including ex-Edmonton Oiler Mike York, ex-San Jose Shark Mark Bell and former Pittsburgh Penguin netminder Sebastien Caron.

“When my agent was talking to them, they seemed pretty excited about the year that I had. They seemed confident that if I came over there and trained hard over the summer, I could have a good year.”

And as another plus for Macek, he’s not that far away from family. He said he’s got aunts and uncles living about 90 minutes away from Iserlohn.

Next on the To-Do list for Macek is learn the language – he’s a blank slate.

“My dad bought me a language program to help me learn German online so I’m going to try to learn as much German as I can before I head over.”

That trip over should come in early August.

Former Hitmen star Humphries chooses guaranteed KHL contract over Canucks tryoutBy: Kristen Odland - Calgary Herald

Spencer Humphries saw it every year he was in the Western Hockey League.

A European import arrives speaking little to no English, a whistle is blown, and the rest is just hockey.
Simple enough — right?

So, bound for the HC Lev Praha of the Kontinental Hockey League in Prague next season, the former Calgary Hitmen defenceman figures the process should be as equally straight forward.

“I know with the imports in Calgary, there wasn’t much talk,” Humphries was saying Thursday afternoon from his home in rainy Delta, B.C. “There are players that come to our team like (Ukrainian) Pasha (Pavlo Padakin), (Russian Alex) Gogolev, and (Swede) Victor (Rask), and they’re able to do it.

“The coach kind of just goes out there and puts a drill on a board and then you watch what’s happening and you go out there and do it. I’m kind of excited to see what it’s like.

“Hopefully, it’s not just a bunch of people yelling at me and me standing there, having no idea what’s going on.”

But it was a risk he was certainly willing to take — and one that he was willing to turn down a rookie camp invite to his hometown National Hockey League team for.

During Calgary’s lengthy post-season run, the Vancouver Canucks had expressed interest and contacted his agent as Humphries and the Hitmen did battle against the Edmonton Oil Kings. He was, of course, thrilled with the idea of an NHL dream realized, in a place he grew up.

That was until about two weeks ago when the HC Lev Praha came calling with the bait of his first professional contract.
Humphries sat down with his agent to weigh the pros and the cons of his decision.

“It’s hard to turn down a tryout especially from (the Canucks),” said Humphries who was one of three 1992-born overage players during the 2012-13 season. “But at the same time, we looked at it like we’re not closing any doors. We’re taking another route. On this route, there might be a door back to the NHL or to North America.

“It was obviously a hard decision and my agent let me know what he thought.”

The pros? A new experience overseas in one of the best leagues in the world. The cons? It’s not the NHL.

“It was hard to say no to such a good contract,” reasoned Humphries who attended the San Jose Sharks training camp when he was 17. “And, at an (NHL) tryout, even if you have the best camp of your life, it can still not pan out the way you want.

“We took the contract which would guarantee I’d be playing. The KHL is a great league, the second-best in the world. I’m excited to get over there.”

As a bona fide shutdown blueliner, Humphries and defence partner Jaynen Rissling used their size to make life difficult for opposing forwards all season and clear the crease of Hitmen goalie Chris Driedger.

But in the KHL where there is more room for finesse on the Olympic-size ice, the demands — as well as the language and culture — are sure to be different.

Humphries plans on going in with an open mind.

“My 19-year-old year in Calgary, I was allowed to do more offensive things,” said Humphries who had five goals and 33 assists in 70 regular season games this year along with 86 penalty minutes and added another 10 points (two goals and eight assists) in 17 playoff games. “This year, I was more of a shutdown guy against teams and played a really defensive role. Going into this (year), I can go on offence or defence.

“I’m going to talk to the coaches and see what they want out of my game.”

So, with his Czech limited to ‘hello,’ ‘thank-you,’ and one sentence — ‘Hello, I don’t speak. Do you speak English?’ — he’s moving on.

“With junior, it definitely got me used to being away from home and moving away from my friends and family,” Humphries said. “But I was joining someone else’s family so that makes it easier. And, of course, they spoke English fluently. Now, I’ll be taking the next step — moving over there by myself and into my own apartment and speaking a completely different language.”

Sylvester headed to Vancouver

Five year Hitmen forward Cody Sylvester is finally getting a look from pro hockey.  The centre will attend Vancouver Canucks development camp.  Camp dates have yet to be released.



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