Replacing the production left behind by NHL rookies Travis Konecny, Pavel Zacha and Jakob Chychrun was a necessity for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. Center Adam Ruzicka has helped fill the void.
Ruzicka, 17 and NHL draft eligible in 2017, averaged better than a half point-per-game through mid-November, keeping the Sting in the West Division race. “We’re not leaning on him offensively, but we definitely need him to contribute,” said Sting coach/owner Derian Hatcher. “If he wasn’t here right now, there would be a big hole to fill.”eplacing the production left behind by NHL rookies Travis Konecny, Pavel Zacha and Jakob Chychrun was a necessity for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. Center Adam Ruzicka has helped fill the void.
Selected 107th overall by Sarnia in the 2016 CHL import draft, Ruzicka participated in the past two Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournaments for Slovakia, captaining the team in August and contributing four points in four games.
Before joining the Sting, he played in Pardubice, Czech Republic. At 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds, it makes sense why he’s a disciple of Czech right winger Jaromir Jagr and his puck-protection style. “He’s a legend,” Ruzicka said. “I’m trying to play like him because he’s probably one of the best players in the world. We’re a similar type of body.”
Hatcher believes Ruzicka’s frame and ability should allow him to fashion his game after the man with the famous mullet, but that will take time, and Ruzicka’s transition to Sarnia hasn’t been perfect. Ruzicka questioned himself during a stretch when he had one point in 10 games, and he is still adapting to the North American game, where rinks are smaller and decisions need to be made quicker. But his shot and puckhandling have him back on track. After that one-in-10 drought, Ruzicka bounced back for seven points in the seven games that followed.
Considering who’s missing in Sarnia, Ruzicka is in a good place, and Hatcher will keep rolling him out there. “We had a feeling he could come in and be a good player for us, which he has been,” Hatcher said. “He’s definitely getting a lot of ice right now.”
– Daniel Nugent-Bowman