By Juraj Hudak World Junior 2017

Adam Ruzicka is considered one of the biggest prospects of Slovak hockey. Although he is only 17 years old, he has star potential for the NHL.

But Ruzicka’s journey is only at the beginning. A first step to leave his mark could be making the roster for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The young Slovak hockey player grew up in Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. Ruzicka was a hyperactive child – leading his parents to make a big decision.

“It’s a funny story. I was a very wild kid and one day my parents brought me to the doctors because of that. They recommended them to let me play sports. So I started playing ice hockey. I was only four years old,” Ruzicka said.

During his youth age there was a big problem with hockey development in Slovakia. Talented young ice hockey players didn’t have a chance to improve their talent if they didn’t have money for equipment. “Yeah, I knew about this. But I am so thankful to my parents. They made it possible for me to play hockey,” he said.

Ruzicka started his career with Bratislava-based club HK Ruzinov and then continued in the youth teams of Slovan Bratislava. As a 17-year-old he got a chance to practise with the senior team that plays in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

“It was great experience for me. I met older players who gave me a lot of advice for my future career. I benefit from it every day,” said Ruzicka.

And it seems he is right as his first season overseas looks very promising. He plays for the Sarnia Sting in the junior league OHL and has great numbers. In 32 games he scored 12 goals and got 10 assists. “I am doing well, but it could always be better. It´s only my first season in Canada, but I think I am getting into the Canadian style of hockey. Hopefully, it will carry on during the whole season.”

His brilliant start of the season caught the eye of Slovak U20 national team head coach Ernest Bokros. “It would be great to be on the team. One thing I know is that I will do all my best to show him my ability to be part of the Slovak junior team. I know the World Juniors are known as one of the fastest tournaments, but I think I am ready for it. I am playing in OHL, which is considered the fastest junior league in the world.”

If Ruzicka made the team, he would be one of the youngest players in the tournament, but one with a lot of talent. Ruzicka feels very confident about this.

“If I go to the World Juniors I will help the team as much as I can. Despite of my age I will show my best for sure. Look at Connor McDavid. He is the youngest captain in the NHL and he’s a leader. I don’t think my age is a problem.”