Dominik Volek is gradually rounding into the type of player Brent Sutter envisioned when he acquired the rights to the Czech forward from the Regina Pats in December.
Volek has been hampered somewhat by a hip flexor and inconsistent play, but has appeared to be on the upswing in recent games, including Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the visiting Pats when his shootout goal was the winner.
The 19-year-old son of former New York Islanders forward David Volek — a one-time teammate of Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter — has a nifty set of wheels and an accurate shot, two traits that are attractive to any team at any level.
“That’s why we traded for him, to add some skill to our lineup,” said Sutter. “He brings us a skill set that we needed in our top six forwards.
“He gives us that skill that we needed to have on the power play. He’s a guy who’s learning the power play and will get better at it this season and next. He’s a guy who in a way is our power play quarterback. We like to work everything off his side because of his skill set and his ability to make plays.”
Sutter was holding his breath Thursday when Volek went to hospital for an x-ray — and accompanying MRI — after blocking a shot by teammate Mathew Dumba during the overtime session of Tuesday’s contest. The Rebels GM/bench boss breathed a sigh of relief when it was determined that Volek’s ankle pain and swelling was limited to a bruise, and not the break that Sutter had feared.
“He’s now listed as day-to-day,” said Sutter, whose squad is in Lethbridge tonight to take on the Hurricanes, plays host to the Prince Albert Raiders Saturday and visits the Medicine Hat Tigers Sunday. “We were concerned that it could have been much more than (a bruise). If it’s still sore tomorrow (today) we’ll give him all the time it takes to heal and hopefully it will be sooner than later.”
Volek, who celebrated his 19th birthday in January, admitted he felt immediate pain when he was struck with Dumba’s shot.
“I moved my leg into the shot and it hurt right away,” said Volek. “Brent asked me if I could go for a shootout and I said ‘yeah, I can.’ And it worked out.”
Volek, a six-foot, 175-pound winger, has certainly contributed offensively this season with eight goals and 15 points in 23 games. But his level of intensity has wavered from game to game, although he has seemed to be more in tune recently.
“For him it’s about consistency, the consistency of knowing that there’s a certain level of play that’s acceptable,” said Sutter. “He has to understand and learn that he can’t have nights where he’s not where he needs to be. It’s just a learning process for him.”
Volek scored 14 goals and added 18 assists in 70 games for the Pats last season, then refused to return to Regina last fall and played nearly three months in Sweden before joining the Rebels.
Despite playing in the WHL last season, Volek admitted there was an adjustment period upon returning to Canada.
“I think the first four to five games was very hard with the smaller ice and high tempo of the game,” he said. “But now I think it’s getting better every game.
“I feel like home here now. The first 14 days you don’t know anyone, so it’s kind of tough. But now I feel like home and feel good on the ice and off the ice. The boys are awesome.
“I still try to play my best. Yeah, I have some bad games, I have some good games, so I’m trying to play every game so I can bring something on the ice for the team.”