Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jakub Ficenec, 2010 Hockey Olympian

Canadian hockey players are not the only ones that play for other countries in the Olympics. Belarus selected the German-born Mikhail Grabovski, Finland's Janne Niskala was born in Sweden, Norway's Juha Kaunismaki was born in Helsinki, Finland and Sweden's third string goalie Stefan Liv was born in Poland. By far, the country with the most non-natives on their squad is Germany.

Ex-San Jose Shark Dmitri Patzold, one of Germany's goalies hails from Kazakhstan. Four Canadians as well play for the Germans, Jason Holland, Travis Mulock, Chris Schmidt and John Tripp. Forward Michael Wolf is from Austria and finally, defenseman Jakub Ficenec hails from the Czech Republic.

Ficenec actually began his North American hockey career playing with the South Surrey Eagles of the BC Junior League in the mid-90's. As a 19 year old in 1996, Ficenec was a team mate of 16 year old Scott Gomez and together they led the Eagles to the Royal Bank Cup final. After Gomez departed the following year, Ficenec would lead the Eagles to the championship while scoring 35 goals and 91 points in 55 games. I had the chance to see four or five Surrey Eagle games in 96/97 and distinctly remember the smooth skating Jakub Ficenec quarterbacking the powerplay.

Undrafted, he signed with the AHL's Portland Pirates in 1998/99 and scored 11 and 10 goals before transferring back to Europe in 2001/02. Ficenec is in his ninth season in the German Elite League and has consistenly been near a point per game defenseman ever since.

This year he has 19 points in 32 games for Ingolstadt.

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