Patrik Bartosak will return to his home country in mid-December and is hoping he won’t be back until next year.
Make no mistake — Bartosak loves living in Red Deer and stopping pucks for the Western Hockey League Rebels, but he’d prefer to be in Russia for the world junior hockey championship.
The second-year Rebels netminder will be at the Czech Republic national junior team selection camp starting Dec. 15 in his homeland and fully expects to earn a berth on the team for the WJC slated for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia.
“I’ve been talking to the goalie coach from the national team and according to what he says I should be one of the two goaltenders on the team,” Bartosak said on Wednesday.
“They expect that three to four goalies will be in camp, but according to what he and my agent say, I should be the starting goaltender or the first back-up. I have got the best stats so far from the Czech goaltenders playing in the CHL and I will be working hard in camp.”
Bartosak identified the person whom he feels will present the biggest obstacle in his quest for the No. 1 job.
“Matej Machovsky is the guy I am probably going to battle with for the starting position,” said Bartosak, whose numbers are superior to those of fellow 19-year-old Machovsky.
Bartosak’s statistics speak for how well he has performed, particularly in recent weeks. He possesses a win-loss record of 13-7-1-0 with one shutout and has a goals-against average of 2.35 and a save percentage of .933.
In comparison, Machovsky has a 10-7-3-2 slate with the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario League, to go with one shutout, a GAA of 2.59 and a save percentage of .909.
That he allowed just two goals in three Rebels victories — compiling a 0.63 GAA and a .982 save percentage in the process — earned Bartosak CHL goaltender of the week honours on Tuesday.
“Like I said before, it’s not something I deserve, it’s something that the team deserves,” he insisted. “We played really well the last few games. It’s not just an award for me, it’s an award for the whole team.”
The Rebels are riding a five-game win streak heading into Friday and Saturday home-ice engagements with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Saskatoon Blades. Bartosak admitted that the overall team mood is more upbeat as a result.
“We’re definitely much more confident that we were at the start of the season,” he said.
“We feel pretty good and we’re excited for this big weekend and to have it go on . . . to get some more wins and keep going.”
While he’ll focus on the task at hand, the opportunity to represent his country in the 2013 WJC will be in the back of his mind this weekend.
“It would be super exciting. Since I first came to the (Czech Republic) U16 program, my goal was to get on the world championship under-20 team,” he said. “So yeah, it’s super exciting to get that chance and also to get the chance to battle for the starting position.
“I was looking forward to spending Christmas with my family, but this is something I can’t refuse.”