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Novak adapting well to the North American game

Marissa Baecker

Forward Pavel Novak has had an eventful couple of months. He represented his country, made the move to North America, and is now making moves for the Rockets on the ice all in the span of just over ten weeks.

The Rockets selected him 13th overall during the CHL Import Draft on June 27.

He then suited up for the Czech Republic at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup from August 5 to the 10 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. It was his second time representing his country at the tournament. In four games he had three points, including the overtime winner against the Americans to secure fifth place while playing on home soil.

Novak was a late arrival to training camp, signing a Western Hockey League Standard Player Agreement on August 24, the opening day of Rockets main camp. Just two days later, he was sitting in the Prospera Place stands watching practices as he waited for his paperwork to go through.

A few days later Novo, as known by his teammates, was on the ice with the Rockets for the first time. Not only was the size of the ice a change for him, but he also wore a visor for the first time.

“I think a visor is better than bars,” said Novak. “I see more movement and the action better with a visor. In the beginning, I think the smaller ice was harder, but now it’s okay. I’m getting used to the smaller rink.”

He played in five of the Rockets six preseason contests after his arrival, picking up three points (one goal, two assists). In his final two games, he had two points and a high of four shots on net in the last exhibition game.

The 17-year-old has found the game to be different than back home. The style is different and the amount of games played in North America is more.

“Here is more games. We have in Czech, I think, 50 games in one season and some games with the national team. We play 64 games here and then playoffs. It’s more physical here, more skating. It’s a little bit slower back home, I think.”

Novak has adapted well to the changes, he isn’t afraid to take a hit or dish one out when he has the chance.

He was held off of the score sheet in his first two regular-season games, but since then the winger has found his stride. He’s tied for the lead in Rockets scoring and leads all WHL rookies in points with eight (three goals, five assists) in seven games played.

Novak netted his first Western Hockey League goal against the Tri-City Americans with a power-play snipe,  he added another two assists while on his way to being named the first star of the game. He then lifted the Rockets to victory last Friday with both goals in a 2-1 win over the Prince George Cougars.

Yesterday Novak was named to the NHL Central Scouting 19-20 Preliminary Players To Watch List, he’s listed as a C rated prospect.

His “C” rating means that he’s a potential fourth-, fifth- or sixth-round selection at the 2020 NHL Draft in Montreal. Novak says while it’s exciting to see his name, he still has lots of work to do before the draft.

“I’m really happy, it’s really good news for me. But I will keep working hard for the draft in June.”

You can see Novak and the Rockets play this Saturday, October 12 when they host the Kamloops Blazers for the Hershey Candy Scramble Game. Kids 12 and under will be invited onto the ice during one of the intermissions to grab candy. Tickets are on sale at selectyourtickets.com, at the Prospera Place box office or by phone at 250-762-5050.

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