When the phone rang at his home in Praha, Czech Republic, prior to Christmas Dominik Volek was in for an unexpected gift.
Red Deer Rebels president/general manager/head coach Brent Sutter was one the other end of the line informing the 18-year-old the Rebels had secured his rights from the Regina Pats and wanted him to join the team following the Christmas break.
“I talked to him when I got home and he called to say Merry Christmas and about coming over,” Volek said after arriving from the Czech Republic Wednesday. “I’m certainly excited about getting started again on Canadian ice and looking forward to playing in the league and with Red Deer.”
Volek played last season with the Pats, accumulating 14 goals and 18 assists in 70 games. He finished with a plus-minus of zero and had 32 penalty minutes.
But returning to the Pats wasn’t something he was interested in, although he enjoyed the league and the fans.
“I liked the junior fans, but I wasn’t happy in Regina,” he said. “I asked to change the billet and nothing. The coach wasn’t playing me and some of the promises they made they didn’t come through with, so I didn’t have a lot of interest in coming back this year.”
Instead he joined Farjestad in the Swedish Super Elite junior league where he played 17 games, scoring twice and adding four assists.
“I played some pro before getting injured then played junior, where I wasn’t so good,” he said. “But playing this year did help my confidence again and I’m looking forward to playing here.”
The Rebels traded 19-year-old Fliip Vasko and 18-year-old Marc McCoy to Regina for Volek’s rights.
Sutter liked what he saw on tape and feels Volek will add skill to the roster.
“He’s a top-end player,” Sutter said. “He’s fast with good hands and has good pedigree.”
Dominik’s father, David, played with Sutter on the New York Islanders.
“That’s not the reason we looked at him. He’s a smart player, someone we’re expecting offence from. He had a descent year as a 17-year-old in our league and now has a chance to come back where he’s a year more mature and a year stronger. We’re excited that he’ll be part of the Rebels organization for the next year and a half and he’s excited to be part of this.”
Volek simply enjoys the Canadian game.
“I think it’s the speed, the hits, the smaller ice, everything,” he said. “You have to do things faster. But the Swedish junior league was good and I don’t think I lost anything. I hope I can bring it to the Canadian ice.”
Volek saw his first action for the Rebels Thursday, picking up an assist in the Rebels 5-3 win over the Oil Kings in Edmonton.
The six-foot-one 185-pound winger, sees himself as a player with “good hands and speed.”
Sutter is excited to add another skilled player to the roster.
“I mentioned in training camp we were lacking skill, it was something we needed to improve on and adding him to the mix with some of the other players we’ve acquired has added a lot of skill to the roster and all of them will be returning next season. That’s huge. The thing is he fits in well with what we’re trying to do.”
Sutter has always been a defensive minded coach, but realizes the game is changing.
“The Rebels have always been known as a stingy team with good defence, but in this day and age you have to score more goals to win and you have to play an exciting brand of hockey. We’ve changed some things and we want to play with more speed up front . . . an up tempo game where you’re on your toes and going for it, not thinking of only defending.”
l Rugged forward Mike Ferland is back in camp with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Ferland, who was a fifth round pick by the Calgary Flames in the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft, is looking to get more ice time than he was in the Flames system. He played in seven games with the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL and three with Utah of the ECHL. He had one point with both teams. Ferland, who had 47 goals and 96 points with Brandon last year, hopes to get reassigned by the Flames back to the Wheat Kings. If he does it will give Brandon four 20-year-olds. The others are forward Nick Buonassisi and defencemen Ryley Miller and Tyler Yaworski . . . The Kelowna Rockets hope to have 20-year-old rearguard Mitchell Chapman back from an ankle injury, giving them four overage players . . . The Moose Jaw Warriors have 19-year-old LW Jordan Wyton back after missing 14 games with an upper body injury.