“It was an amazing feeling to beat such a great player as Gaborik. I took that puck home and put it in my room above the table, so I can still look at it. For me, it is the most valuable achievement in my career so far. But I will be working as hard as I can to add more,” said Dvorsky, who also became the second youngest player to play a game in the Slovak Extraliga.
The young talent originally from the Slovak town of Zvolen was congratulated by Marian Gaborik himself. The injured, long-time national team player currently under contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning published a photo of himself with Dvorsky, then 8 years old, at his hockey school, on his social media accounts with praising words about Dvorsky’s talent.
“Yeah, I was so happy receiving that message from such a great player. That gives me extra motivation to work a lot harder. When I grew up, he was my favourite player. But I have always looked up to Sidney Crosby too. Now I like Nicklas Backstrom and his play,” the 15-year-old centre told IIHF.com.
“Sometimes it’s a strange feeling because as a little boy I used to go to watch them just like a fan in the crowd and now I play against them. But at the same time, I’m so happy to get the chance to face such great hockey players,” Dvorsky said.
However, the joy of the games sometimes is replaced by the respect of the injuries or bad plays. Many guys in his age still have weaker bodies than the adult opponents, which creates a disadvantage on ice. Although they have talent, physically there are still limits and Dvorsky knows that.
“That’s why I need to be smarter. Men’s hockey is faster and extra physical so in certain situations I must be absolutely concentrated and watch every play carefully. But on the other hand, I can’t be afraid to go into the battles. It’s just about developing my game,” admits Dvorsky and emphasises that he’s not afraid of physical play at all.
The Slovak Extraliga will help him develop in this aspect compared to the junior play he’s been used to. Many players are experienced, well prepared and used to play abroad as well. Playing against them could be a big opportunity to become a stronger player.
However, originally he was not supposed to be where he is. Many years earlier he had left Slovakia to play junior hockey in Sweden, last season with the U16 team of Linkoping HC and this season with AIK Stockholm’s U18 team. The season in the East group started well with a 5-1 record and Dvorsky leading his team in scoring with 14 points (4+10).
However, the season ended after only six games at the end of October. Since then junior hockey has been banned in Sweden at any level due to COVID-19 restrictions for non-professional sport competitions. Eventually the season was cancelled and Dvorsky returned to his native country where he got the opportunity to play in the top senior league since January.
“In Sweden it was different. In the juniors, they pay more attention on skills, drills and speed. Of course, they play physical but in the Slovak pro league it is not only about the hits; players are more experience and smarter,” Dvorsky said.
He went to Sweden already as a 9-year-old, but his first steps on the ice were in his hometown of Zvolen.
“Honestly, I can’t remember all details. I was a little boy, but it was completely different. When I look back, people and the world around looked totally different for me than in my hometown. But everyone was so kind to me. All coaches and teammates were very friendly. Thanks to them, I got used to the new life very easily and I still feel great over there,” Dvorsky describes his last six years in Sweden.
During this period, the new environment could change his mindset. Does Dvorsky feel more Swedish or more Slovak now?
“No, Slovakia will be always my home, because I grew up here. But Sweden is like my second home. I speak fluently Swedish and still have many friends over there,” said Dvorsky.
Due to the cancelled season in Sweden he can enjoy playing at home, which brings him another new experience. The coaches of the Slovak U18 national team noticed his performance and invited him to a camp where he played two games against Czech Republic.
“I was so happy to be a part of the camp. I also made my international debut. From the start I felt good and confident on the ice all the time. Playing in the Slovak Extraliga helped me a lot, so I could easily adapt to the high international tempo,” said Dvorsky, who also scored his first goal in his first game for the Slovak U18 national team.
“It’s great to play on the international level where you can compare yourself with other guys from abroad straight in the game,” the Slovak native added and hopes to one day play a World Championship in the jersey of his country.
“I will do everything for that. If my performance would be good enough, there is a chance to get there. Everything depends on my work on and off the ice,” said Dvorsky, who has another big dream.
As every young top prospect his dream is to play in the NHL. In 2023 he will be eligible for the NHL Entry Draft.
“I don’t want to look that far to the future, but that’s the plan. Now I play for AIK Stockholm U18. This year I had plans to move to another level and play for the U20 team. Since the season was cancelled, I play in Slovakia, but when I will come back, I want to move up a level,” said Dvorsky.
“Now I want to play the best I can in Slovakia and to help Banska Bystrica to get to the play-offs. But as for the longer-term goal, it is for sure to be drafted into NHL, at the highest possible place,” Dvorsky added.
Banska Bystrica currently sits in 10th place in the 12-team league and has improved recently with five wins in the last eight games. Dvorsky has in the meantime scored his second goal and has three points in 17 games while logging 13 minutes of ice team in average.