At the young age of 17, Dominik Volek packed his bags and moved half-way across the world from his home in the Czech Republic to Southern Saskatchewan to better his hockey career.
"It was tough," says Volek. "My mom was sad and it was hard to leave everything."
Volek's hockey bloodlines played a role in his decision to move to Regina after the Pats drafted him ninth overall in the 2011 CHL import draft. The 6-foot, 175-pound winger's father, David Volek, played five seasons with the New York Islanders during the late '80s and early '90s. While his father was in North America, he seen and was told about the dedication and quality of coaches and trainers in the Canadian Hockey League. Therefore, as any father would, he wanted his son to play in the most beneficial junior league for his development.
"My dad wanted me to come here," says Volek. "He said it's the best junior league. He played with guys who played in the WHL."
Another major reason for Volek's decision to move to Regina is the difference of competitiveness and quality of development between the WHL and the top junior leagues offered by the Czech Republic.
"Czech Republic doesn't have a league like WHL," says Volek. "It's like, ugh, say two or three levels below this. It's not like WHL."
As expected, Volek's first season of major junior hockey entailed some ups and downs. He started the season with a hot stick, scoring three goals and six points in his first 10 games. He did, however, have some cold stretches later on, including a seven-game pointless streak in November. All in all, Volek made an impact on the score sheet and became a vital secondary scorer for the Pats in his rookie season, finishing the year with 14 goals and 32 points in 70 games.
"Volek started out with great flare and really had everyone's head turning," says Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. "But he has since tailed off and while I still believe he is an incredibly talented offensive talent, it is obvious there is still a lot of work to be done for him to reach his potential. Still I think he has adapted pretty well from the Czech Republic leagues to the very different Western Hockey League."
Volek, 18, is regarded as a possible late-round pick of the 2012 NHL entry draft. NHL's Central Scouting Service ranked him 163rd overall among North American skaters in their final rankings that they released in early April.
"I think he will fall under the 100 mark, but I think someone could draft him later on," adds MacLean. "With this draft class I think we will see a lot of off the map picking. I believe Volek has great offensive potential, maybe not elite, but certainly there are some tools worth taking a chance on and with proper development those skills could be cultivated into a very effective pro-level scorer."
1. What has been the biggest transition from living in the Czech Republic to living in Canada?
"Language is the biggest change. Some words are hard and it's just hard sometimes. I knew some English before coming here. Now I have to speak it all the time. It's (a) big change."
2. Did you know the Regina Pats were going to draft you in the Import draft? Did they contact you beforehand?
"It was a surprise. They never talked to me before it. I was happy."
3. Have you noticed a major difference in food from the Czech Republic to Canada?
"Yeah I have. Czech is more home food, like fresh. Here there's lots of fast food."
4. What do you think is the strongest part of your game?
"I think I'm fast and have a good shot. I can beat defenceman with (my) speed."
5. Did you set any goals for this season prior to moving to Regina?
"Play good (he chuckles). I just wanted to come here to get better. That's why I'm here."
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen