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Newest Rocket Marek Tvrdon brings size, skill to team
Over parts of three seasons with the Vancouver Giants, Marek Tvrdon inflicted his share of damage on the Kelowna Rockets.
Now the 20-year-old Slovakian-born forward has been called upon to help the Rockets build towards a long and prosperous Western Hockey League playoff run.
The Canadian Hockey League's top-ranked team acquired the 6-foot-2, 217-pound forward from this Giants in a three-way deal this week, which saw Zach Franko, 20, dealt to the Kootenay Ice.
Tvrdon will join the Rockets this weekend in Alberta and is expected to make his Kelowna debut on Saturday against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Tvrdon, who played parts of three seasons with the Giants, spent the early part of this season in the pro ranks with the East Coast Hockey League's Toledo Walleye.
With both skill and size to offer, head coach Ryan Huska said Tvrdon should be a welcome addition to the Kelowna lineup.
"He a guy that has the potential to change a game with his abilities," said Huska. "One thing you get from his right away his size. In our league a lot of the teams are big, fast and skilled and he helps us in those areas."
In 90 games with the Giants between 2010 and 2013, Tvrdon scored 45 goals and had 102 points.
Huska is hoping for similar results with his club over the last half of the WHL season.
"He's been at the pro level, so I'm sure it will take him a little time get settled being back in junior," Huska said. "We think 5-on-5, he's going to help up generate a little more offence. But even more, we think he's going to help out our power play. He shoots the puck very well and gets himself into good scoring positions."
To start with, Huska expects Tvrdon will move into Franko's spot on a line with Ryan Olsen and Kris Schmidli.
In Franko's case, the trade to the Ice ends a lengthy relationship between the Winnipeg native and the Rockets.
A second-round bantam pick of the Rockets in 2008, Franko was in his fourth season in Kelowna, scoring 72 goals 127 assists in 252 games.
"That's hockey. Its a shock but I will make the best of the situation. I'm excited to go to Kootenay," Franko told AM 1150.
"It's tough but everything happens for a reason. I wish them the best and I think they will keep winning."
Meanwhile, the Rockets (33-5-0-2) are coming off just their fifth regulation loss of the season, a 4-2 setback to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday night.
"It was a good game between two good teams," said Huska. "Where we got into trouble was on face offs, and we took too many penalties. Their goaltender (Tristan Jarry) played well, too."
The Rockets resume their Alberta swing Friday in Lethbridge, before visiting Medicine Hat on Saturday, and the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday afternoon.