Q&A with Tomas Marcinko

By Andrej Cicman

Tomas Marcinko was drafted by the NY Islanders in 2006 (4th round, 115th overall). He is playing his second season in the OHL for the Barrie Colts. After his rookie season, in which he collected 19 goals and 21 assists, he is one of the main pieces of the Barrie Colts roster. After 15 games this season, he has 11 goals and 6 assists. If he can hold this point production, his scoring rate will be far better than last season.

Jason Ford, assistant general manager for the Colts, points out what’s behind Marcinko’s strong progress: "Tomas has played better and improved his statistics this season because he has more confidence.  He played a full season in 2006-07 and adjusted to playing in Canada and the overall life away from Slovakia.  He is now more comfortable with his surroundings.  Plus, he has attended two NHL training camps with the New York Islanders and this has given him tremendous experience that he has carried onto the ice in the OHL this season."

And what can he say about him as a player? "As a player, I would describe him as having excellent skill and tremendous skating ability for his size.  Overall, he is good with the puck, and has excellent offensive instincts on the attack.  He has a lot of potential to move and play at the next level because of his combination of skill and size."

Marcinko also played for Slovakia in the last WJC and collected one goal and three assists in six games.  Hockey’s Future interviewed Marcinko in Slovak, and then translated the interview.

HF: How do you came to hockey?
TM: The main reason that I began to play hockey was my father. When I was very young, I followed him to all games and practices.

HF: You were born in Poprad, but were recognized in Slovakia as a HC Kosice player. Where did you begin to play hockey?
TM: Although it’s my birth town and my whole family came from Poprad, I never played there. My first hockey steps I made in Kosice and it was in the old hockey rink.

HF: Before you left Slovakia, you played 18 games in the Slovak senior top league, the Slovak Extra league and had two goals. Do you remember your first goal?
TM: I remember very well that moment. I think you can’t forget something like that. We played in Skalica and we won, so the goal tasted very good.

HF: Can you compare the level of the OHL with the Slovak senior league?
TM: It’s very hard to compare the Slovak Extraleague and the OHL. The OHL is more specialized for speed and therefore we have very little time for decisions. But in the Slovak Extraleague you can find a lot of more experienced players and they are playing wisely and are stronger.

HF: When you come back to Slovakia, what team will you choose for your next career?

TM: When I came back, for sure I would play for HC Kosice.

HF: In the summer of 2006, before you left your home country, HC Kosice head coach Jan Sterbak said that he had a place on his team for you. But you chose the OHL and Barrie Colts. Do you think that it was the right decision?

TM: I can’t remember these words, but we communicated about this possibility. It had a lot to do with the NHL draft. But I think that I don’t have to complain.

HF: It’s always hard to came to new surroundings. How were your beginnings in North America?
TM: My beginnings were very hard, but I expected that. In my life many things changed and I had to adjust to them. For sure, it was the language and the style of play that I had to adjust to in the shortest time. And then it was the people, their mentality and the food.

HF: What do you think about the Slovak junior team playing in the Slovak senior league this year?
TM: I think that they do it well. Although there isn’t a winning match, but I believe they can do it. I’m crossing my fingers and following every day the news and how they play. This project is really useful.

HF: Were you invited to this team?
TM: Yes, I talked about it with the head coach Mr. Frühauf.

HF: You are really getting on well. What is the main reason for your good start to the season?

TM: I think that we understand each other well on our line. We played together a few games in the last season and maybe that’s the reason. It’s hard to say if it’s a good beginning. You have good games and games that you don’t play so good. But still I have a lot of things to improve and I must work on it.

HF: Are you a checking center, or your task is to play more on offense?

TM: I don’t have it divided strictly into defense or offense. The head coach doesn’t tell me such things. I’m playing just like a normal center. I try to help in the defense as much as I can and support the offense.

HF: What are your team goals for this season?
TM: We lost a lot of last season’s players and our team is younger than it was. Our goal is to reach the playoffs.

HF: What can you say about your summer preparation?
TM: I prepared myself in Slovakia with HC Kosice and I appreciate this a lot. And I want to thank them for that opportunity.

HF: In 2006 the New York Islanders picked you in the 4th round. How many times have you been to their training camp?
TM: I was there two times, this year and last year. This year it was a little bit easier. I knew what is waiting for me and how it would look like. I was for a week in New York in the summer, we had a rookie camp. And after that I was invited to the main training camp of the Islanders.

HF: In the end of this year is the U-20 Championships in the Czech Republic. Do you think that this year the Slovak national team will be better, as it was last year?

TM: I believe in that. But nobody knows how it will end, if it will be better or worse. But I’m sure that every nominated player will do his best, so it will be better.

HF: What do you think are the main reasons that the Slovak prospects miss, if they want to achieve something?
TM: I think it’s bigger effort and desire. You must always follow your dream and subordinate to him.

HF: What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?
TM: I want to improve my finishing skills and be more engaged in the offensive phase of the game. But there are many more skills on which I want to focus and improve. I think I have good skating skills.

HF: How do you like living in such a small city?
TM: It’s better than it was last season. I adjusted to many things. The city isn’t so big, but it isn’t an issue for me.

HF: Have you met some Slovaks?
TM: You can find here a lot of Slovaks or Czechs, but I don’t have here some special friend.

HF: Who is your hockey role model?

TM: It is Marian Hossa from the Atlanta Thrashers.

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