For many of the import players toiling with CHL teams, their dream is to one day play in the NHL. While every player in junior hockey is certain to possess the same aspirations, it is the imports that also have to embrace the adjustments that come with emigrating to a foreign country.
Such is the case with Marek Viedensky, who is enjoying his second season in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars. The 19-year-old is a native of Handlova, Slovakia, and was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
As a WHL rookie, Viedensky collected 16 goals and 24 assists in 59 games with the Cougars. A mobile forward, he spent time playing alongside Dana Tyrell (TB) and also Brett Connolly, the eventual WHL and CHL Rookie of the Year, respectively. This season, through 24 games, the 6-3, 195-pounder has scored four goals and added 20 assists.
With the Cougars making a firm youth movement commitment prior to last season, Viedensky’s tenure with the club has occurred for the most part on a junior team that has struggled mightily. As a big-bodied forward with some offensive skills, he has been able to establish himself as a reliable player, but would benefit from an opportunity to be surrounded by better talent. With the Cougars occupying the cellar in the WHL this season, Viedensky has faced questions from a few media wags at the WJC about the likelihood of a trade when he returns to Prince George.
In Saskatchewan, Slovakia competed in the same pool with Canada, Switzerland, Latvia and the United States. With high expectations after a fourth place finish last year, the Slovakians have been considered a mild disappointment here, compiling a 1-3 record in the preliminary round. The loss to Switzerland effectively cost Slovakia the opportunity to advance to the medal round. Instead, Slovakia played in the relegation round, where they emerged with a 2-1 record to salvage a spot in the 2011 WJC.
Viedensky scored one goal and six assists in six games here, good for second place on the Slovakian team behind Richard Panik of the Windsor Spitfires. Tomas Tatar, who plays for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, scored twice and added three assists in the tournament. Last season, the trio was an integral part of Slovakia’s success at the 2009 WJC in Ottawa.