For a player who had just been demoted from the National Hockey League, Roman Horak was in a surprisingly upbeat mood on Friday morning.
But in light of the fact that the 20-year-old rookie forward had never realistically expected to start the season with the Calgary Flames, the newest member of the Abbotsford Heat was able to take it all in stride.
“The NHL was always my dream, and I enjoyed every day I spent there,” said Horak, who surprised many – including himself – by cracking the Flames’ opening-night lineup and suiting up for 25 games before being reassigned to Abbotsford on Friday. “I appreciated the chance there, and hopefully I’ll be back soon.
“I take it positively. I’m hoping I can help this team, and I’m just going to work hard and we’ll see what happens.”
Horak, a native of the Czech Republic, posted nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 25 games with Calgary, while earning plaudits for his on-ice vision and solid two-way game.
With the Flames getting healthier up front – Brendan Morrison returning to the lineup, and David Moss expected back soon – Horak was a healthy scratch for the Flames’ Thursday home game against the Colorado Avalanche, and he was reassigned to Abbotsford hours later.
The thinking is, a steady dose of ice time in the AHL will serve the youngster’s development better than watching from the press box in Calgary.
Horak’s arrival in Abbotsford represents a return to the Fraser Valley.
He spent the previous two seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Chilliwack Bruins, racking up 125 points in 130 regular season games.
He was a fifth-round draft choice by the New York Rangers in 2009, and joined the Flames organization in a trade that saw defenceman Tim Erixon head the other way.
Horak, after being reassigned Friday morning, landed in Abbotsford around 9:30 a.m. and hustled down to the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre in time to make the Heat’s 10 a.m. game-day skate. He was on a line with Paul Byron and Greg Nemisz when the Heat hosted the Lake Erie Monsters.
“I played with Byzie in Calgary for a couple games, and he’s a great player,” Horak said. “He’s talented, he’s got great hands and he’s really quick. Nemo is the same. He’s got a great shot, and he can score every time he has a chance.”