Former Rebels excited to see familiar faces
The last thing Dominik Volek expected was a change of address.
But if his new address had to be in Vancouver . . .
“I’m really enjoying my time there,” the former Red Deer Rebels forward said Thursday from Edmonton, where the Vancouver Giants have set up shop for the remainder of their three-game Central Division trip which includes contests tonight against the Rebels and Saturday versus the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Volek was dealt to the Giants Jan. 9 in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft and a third-round selection in 2016. He never saw it coming.
“I was really shocked the morning I got traded. I didn’t expect to be traded,” the 20-year-odl Czech winger insisted. “But now I’m accepting it and trying to be the best for the Vancouver Giants.”
The fact that former Rebels teammate Joel Hamilton was already in Vancouver — as a result of an off-season trade — helped Volek make the transition.
Volek joined the Rebels midway through the 2012-13 season and scored nine goals and collected 17 points in 32 games. He had 15 goals and 24 points in 32 games this season before being sent to the Giants.
Inconsistency plagued Volek to some degree during his time with the Rebels and he admitted he hasn’t been a model of consistency with the Giants.
“I’ve had some really good games and maybe some not so good, but I think I’m getting a little better now that playoff time is coming,” he said. “I hope I can be really consistent now and help the team in the playoffs. That’s the most important time, right?”
Volek, who has five goals and 11 points in 19 games with his new club, likes the Giants’ potential for playoff success. The Giants have won their last two games and with a 10-point lead over the ninth-place Prince George Cougars, should secure a post-season spot in the Western Conference.
“I think we are starting to get a little better right now but we’ll see when playoff time comes,” said Volek, who insisted he’s playing his final season in the WHL.
“Next year I’m not going to stay in junior hockey anymore,” he said. “I just want to move on to pro hockey somewhere. Maybe I can get to an NHL camp or just go back to Europe and find some place and develop more and work on my strengths and skills.
“Then maybe one day I’ll be back in North America.”
But first things first. Volek, who plays on a line with Travis McEvoy and rookie Ty Ronning, is anxious to return to the Enmax Centrium tonight.
“I am really looking forward to playing in Red Deer again and seeing familiar faces,” he said.
Hamilton expressed similar sentiments.
“I think it will be a little weird to be back in Red Deer but I’m definitely looking forward to it,” he said. “It was even weird playing against (his former teammates) in Vancouver (during a 3-2 Giants overtime win Feb. 4) but I think it will just be amplified playing there (Centrium).”
Hamilton, who was acquired by the Giants in August for a third-round pick in this year’s bantam draft, had no problem adapting to his new home and new team.
“I love it in Vancouver,” said the Cochrane product. “We’re doing well, we had a five-game losing streak before our last two wins and that wasn’t very good, but we’re kind of back on track now.
“We kind of turned it on right before Christmas and we’ve been playing pretty well most of the second half. It’s looking good.”
Hamilton played two years with the Rebels, garnering 18 points (5-13) in 44 games in 2011-12 and 39 points (9-30) in 70 games last season. He has eight goals and 35 points in 60 games with Vancouver, but a good chunk of those have come since Christmas.
“Since I’ve come back from the break, I believe I’ve been one of the top three on the team in points,” he said.
While he’s pleased with his own play as of late, Hamilton is focused on team goals.
“I think we’re sitting pretty good,” he said. “We’re just going to try and finish the year strong and then hopefully do well in the playoffs.”