07/09/2016 2:32 PM
There’s one thing that all players attending the Brampton Beast Free Agent Camp this week have in common:
A passionate, undying love for the game of hockey.
For the majority of camp attendees, their gateway to a possible career in professional hockey is only a short drive away, across the Greater Toronto Area or from a number of cities and towns across Ontario.
But for a handful of players attending this week’s camp, they had to travel a little farther to try to make their hockey dreams come true. One such player is Niko Stark.
The 6’2” 21-year old goaltender traversed the Atlantic Ocean all the way from Europe just for a shot of making the Brampton Beast.
“I flew from Germany to Toronto on Monday,” Stark said with a grin. “Wednesday was the first time on the ice in three months for me. I feel good.”
Stark played professional hockey in his hometown of Selb, Germany for the last several years and decided to try to make his dream of playing professional hockey in North America come true.
“It’s a dream to play here for me,” he said. “I wrote to every NHL team, AHL team and every ECHL team and sent them my game tape. I read on the homepage of the Brampton Beast that they had this camp in July so I decided to come.”
Having played professional hockey before attending camp, he’s not afraid to man the crease in front of some of the best free agents in Canada but he admits the game is a little different during a competitive camp environment.
“I think it’s very fast,” he said. “I play pro hockey in Germany and I’ve played with a couple of guys from Canada and the USA, so I know the game is fast. When you see it in person like this, it’s very fast. They shoot very hard.”
Another player attending this year’s camp also came a long way to be here this week, but odds are he feels more at home here in Brampton than most skaters.
Patrik Zilak hails from Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech Republic but played last season for the Brampton Bombers in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
The 5’9” speedster already has two seasons of Canadian hockey under his belt having played for the Bombers and at PEAC Prep School in Toronto and feels he’s in a place to really make an impact at camp this week.
“I want to continue to develop my hockey skills and I think coming to this camp is just another level I can reach,” Zilak said. “It’s a great opportunity to play with great players and be seen by great coaches. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
Even though Zilak is in tough against close to 80 other free agents in attendance at the Powerade Centre this week, he’s not shying away from the unique challenge a camp like this presents.
“You always want to try to do all the best things you can do,” he said. “It’s a tryout. It’s really competitive. You’re just trying to be a team player but obviously you’re trying to play for yourself. It’s hard but you always try to play your best, whether it’s practice or a tryout. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Zilak got to know the City of Brampton a lot during his season with the Bombers last year and is certainly not opposed to sticking around in Brampton and playing for the Beast.
“Absolutely,” he said of remaining in Brampton if offered a spot on the Beast.
That sounds good to me. It’s fun here. I love it. It’s awesome. But I still have a long way to go. I’m just going to try and do my best and we’ll see what I get out of it.”
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The Brampton Beast will be bringing their exciting brand of ECHL hockey back to the Powerade Centre this fall. Don’t miss a minute of the action! 2016-17 Memberships are now available, starting at $34.78 plus HST per month.
For more information or general media inquiries on the Brampton Beast, please contact Chris Ballard, Public Relations Coordinator at (905) 564-1684 or email@example.com.