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Slovakian forward Tvrdon ready for Rockets' debut
Marek Tvrdon was already 23 games into his pro career when the call came.
The 20-year-old Slovakian forward had been summoned back to the junior ranks after his WHL rights were traded last week to the Kelowna Rockets by the Vancouver Giants.
The league-leading Rockets added the 6-foot-2, 212 pound Tvrdon—a prospect of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings—to bolster their roster for a run at the WHL title.
Tvrdon, who had been playing with the East Coast Hockey League's Toledo Walleye, is comfortable with putting his pro career on hold until next season—particularly to join the Canadian Hockey League's No. 1 team.
"It is what it is, I take (the trade) and I will try my best here," Tvrdon said Tuesday, prior to a team practise in Kelowna. "I want to help the team to go as far as we can. These guys have a chance to go to Memorial Cup, so it's good. This is one more good stop and then back (to pro)."
Tvrdon was acquired from Vancouver Jan. 8 after the Rockets shipped another 20-year-old forward, Zach Franko, to the Kootenay Ice.
Due to some paperwork issues, Tvrdon wasn't eligible to play last weekend in Alberta but has since been cleared and will be ready to go Friday night when the Rockets visit the Victoria Royals.
"Finally I'm going to play a game with my new team, so I'm pretty excited," he said.
A power forward with skill and a hard, accurate shot, Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert has high expectations for the Slovakian-born forward.
"There's no doubt he's a bigger guy with skill that we're hoping he can do things well from the hashmarks in and provide offence for us," said Lambert. "We certainly think he'll help our power play. But also expect him to play a 200-foot game, be solid defensively and compete for pucks wherever he is on the ice."
During his three seasons with the Giants, Tvrdon struggled with injuries and missed 114 games. Still, when he was healthy Tvrdon was very productive with 45 goals and 107 points in 90 games.
"I hope (the injuries) are done," Tvrdon said. "It has been good this year."
In Toledo this season, he had nine goals and 13 points in 22 games.
Tvrdon was selected by the Red Wings in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
The Rockets will wrap up a gruelling stretch of road games with a doubleheader this weekend in Victoria as they meet the Royals Friday and Saturday. By Saturday, Kelowna will have played 16 of 18 games away from home…The Rockets return home next Wednesday to play the Everett Silvertips. Kelowna will then play 11 of its next 14 games at Prospera Place.