Photo credits: Paul Foster
Oxford City Stars’ import forward, 25 year old Ondřej Pekárik from the Czech Republic, joined the team a few weeks ago but scheduling issues meant we have only recently had a chance to catch up with him. We finally did sit down and have a chat with him this week – here’s what he has to say about himself:
482 Days: Welcome to Oxford. You’ve been in the city for a few weeks now – how are you settling in?
Ondřej: Thanks for the welcome! I haven’t seen the city too much because I live in Kidlington and we have a lot of games. But what I have already seen was beautiful, I’m pretty sure that Oxford is a nice and clean city.
482 Days: Tell us a little about your hockey career prior to coming to the UK last season. When did you start, what teams did you play for?
Ondřej: Well I started when I was 3 years old, and I have to say for that big thanks to my parents! I started to play in my born city Pribram then I move to Sparta Prague. When I still was a junior I moved to the Canada to play in OHL for Owen Sound Attack I also play as junior for National team as well. After Canada, I came back to Czech Republic to play in the highest level in Litvinov. I also spend time in the Ukraine professional league (PHL).
482 Days: You represented your country at U16 and U17 level, what was the experience like?
Ondřej: It was great.. I love to remember when we played in the youth Olympic games in Jaca (Spain). I had a lot of friends from the national team as well: Radko Gudas (Philadelphia Flyers) and Jan Kovář (current Czech international and playing in KHL) were my room-mates at the hotel.
482 Days: You were then drafted into the OHL for Owen Sound Attack. How did you find the experience of going to a different country, having to speak a different language and playing in one of the most competitive junior leagues in the world – especially as you were only 17 at the time?
Ondřej: It was hard for me but it is just how life goes.. I see the chance there so I’ll try to take it. I never apologize to myself that I did that. I go there like a boy and came back as like a man.
482 Days: Did you enjoy your time over there?
Ondřej: Of course I did..! Obviously I missed my family, but Canada is very nice country and guys from the team were good friends too.
482 Days: You had 2 seasons out of the game recently. I understand you had an injury – can you tell us a little more about that and how it is feeling now?
Ondřej: It was so hard for me I spent a lot of time in injury and came back from injury.. I would get back to enjoying hockey and just get back to my level and then another injury came… But in this time I had a big support from my parents – they helped me a lot..!
482 Days: What injuries did you have?
Ondřej: Left shoulder 4 times, left ankle, right shoulder, left knee…
482 Days: Good lord! How does everything feel now?
Ondřej: Much better – I can say everything is ok but sometimes I can feel left shoulder… but it is nothing too bad and I can play with it.
482 Days: That’s good news! So were the injuries why you moved teams a lot as a senior?
Ondřej: It was also playing for different teams in different levels.. It just sometimes happened – and also Elite Prospect doesn’t always say the truth <grin>
482 Days: Really? What is not correct on Elite Prospects for you?
Ondřej: It misses out some games, including 2 games in Litvínov in Extraliga (top Czech division) – but who cares… Now I play for Stars and I have to give the Stars the best of me!
482 Days: You’ve been playing with the Stars team for a few weeks now. What do you think so far and how are you finding the guys to work with?
Ondřej: First thing i want to say is we are ONE team, everybody is friends with everybody! The support from all guys to me and Boris is just amazing! They help to us as much they can. Same help we had from Simon and David as well. And on the ice…I believe we are in top 3 teams in this league for sure!
482 Days: In this league, teams are only allowed two ‘import’ players. As a result there are higher expectations on those they bring in. Do you feel extra pressure on you because of this?
Ondřej: Not really. I know how I can help the team… And I’m old enough to know that if we win 5:0 and I don’t score or make any points, I will be more happy then if we lose 5:3 and I get a hat trick. I know they expect points from me, and I will try to do my best to get them! But first in my thoughts is the team’s points. Everybody in dressing room is thinking like that… That is so important.
482 Days: And what do you think you can you bring to the team to help push them up the league this season?
Ondřej: Like I already answered – points. But good face-offs and a smart game as well.
482 Days: So how would you describe yourself as a hockey player?
Ondřej: Good pass and smart game, I’m not scared to play a physical game. I also think that I’m not too bad in keeping the puck and protecting the puck.
482 Days: What do you think your biggest strengths and weaknesses are on the ice?
Ondřej: Strength is probably my head, like I said – smart game… Weakness? You will have to ask Simon for that!
482 Days: What has been your favourite moment so far in hockey?
Ondřej: Rookie camp at Los Angeles after my first season in OHL.
482 Days: And finally – what are you most proud of (hockey wise)?
Ondřej: Hockey… it’s hard to say – it’s just sport. I’m really proud of my parents because without them we can’t do this interview! But I guess I can be proud that I still play even after all the injuries. I still love hockey and love the time be on ice and in dressing room with the guys.
482 Days: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I look forward to seeing more of you on the ice soon! Good luck for the rest of the season.