Tomas Vomacka: From Hradec Králové With NHL Dreams

Tomas Vomacka: From Hradec Králové With NHL Dreams

Steven Ellis23 Jun 2017Steven Ellis»
 

Czech-born goaltender Tomas Vomacka has hopes of making it to the NHL. His dream begins this weekend at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

 
 
 
 

The pressure for young kids to perform well in their NHL draft year is astounding.

There are eyes on you at all times. 15 great performances can be overshadowed by one or two poor ones in front of important people. A strong season could be the difference between working at McDonalds and going to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

It's not an easy time for anyone.

But then there are guys who don't have as much pressure, nothing to lose. They have been underrated for years and every good performance 

That's where Tomas Vomacka fits in.

Born in Trutnov, Czech Republic, Vomacka just completed his first season in the North American Hockey League, a Tier II league where Latvian-born Mareks Mitens finished with 11 shutouts, the most in a single season in the entire league. The league always attracts a few imports each year, with goalies coming from Russia, Denmark, Lithuania, Switzerland, Finland and Great Britain.

But near the top of the list in the entire league was Vomacka, an 18-year-old netminder with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays. Vomacka came over from the Czech junior ranks where he spent the past few years with HC Hradec Kralove. Vomacka had a great campaign in 2016-2017, getting named to the league's first all-rookie team at the end of the year among other accolades.

In March, Vomacka was able to achieve one of his biggest goals: committing to the University of Connecticut, a NCAA Division I program in the Hockey East, for the 2018-19 season.

"My dream is still to play college hockey and I am really looking forward to make my dream happen," Vomacka said.

But did someone that was born in the Czech Republic ever expect to play in the top University league in the world?

"Not really," Vomacka said. "I started thinking about college two years ago, and it became my dream to be committed to D1 hockey school. Obviously, I am excited to go to the University of Connecticut, because it's a great school with a great hockey program."

Vomacka gained prominence due to his play in various international events for the Czech Republic, most notably the 2015 World Junior A Challenge. There, Vomacka stole the show against Canada Black, a team that featured a load of great young talent, including Shane Bowers, Brady Gilmour and Joseph Veleno. Vomacka's other performance saw the young netminder just losing to Canada Black earlier in the shootout, but for all intensive purposes, it was a great experience for the youngster.

"One of the best experiences I have ever had," Vomacka said about getting the chance to play for the Czech's on Canadian soil. It is always pleasure to play for your country."

Skip on to 2016, where the Czech's pulled off a major upset at a tournament they help co-host. After eight years of Canada dominating the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, Vomacka made 38 stops in his lone appearance against the United States. The team ended up pulling off the eventual tournament victory for just the first time in the history of the Czech's at the famous event.

"(It was) the best tournament of my life," Vomacka said about getting the chance to play in Canada. "We had a great group of guys in the locker room. Coaches were great too and the home fans were absolutely amazing. We had all this support and we played really hard. The moment when we won gold is going to stay in my head forever."

The Czech's are typically underdogs in international competition, so anytime Vomacka is thrown into a game, he's had to stay sharp. One of his strongest performances came at theat the recent Five Nations U18 tournament in the United States, where Vomacka, once again, was forced into play against the Americans. Vomacka wsa up for the challenge, stopping 49 of 52 shots in a big 4-3 overtime win, the first for the Czech's at the tournament.

Now, Vomacka's focus shifts to the National Hockey League, where he could hear his name called by one of the 31 teams this coming weekend in Chicago. With the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights, there's more of an opportunity for Vomacka to get drafted into the NHL, a goal he's hoping to achieve.

But still, it's not something he's thought too much about during the season.

"I thought about it little bit for sure, but I tried not to and just tried to stay focus for the games in Corpus."

Vomacka is ranked 14th by NHL Central Scouting for North American-based goalies, putting him in the top half of the list for goalies that play in Canada or the United States. But with so many options, there's always a chance that he'll never get the call.

But regardless, he'll be at the United Center in person in hopes of having his dream come true: getting drafted in the big leagues.

"My dream is to play in the NHL, for sure."

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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