By Michael Boriero
David Spacek and Ivan Zhigalov have emerged as key pieces in the sudden rise of the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), but travelling overseas, away from family and friends, wasn’t easy for the two European talents.
Spacek, who was selected 67th overall in the 2021 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft, has cemented himself as a defensive anchor on the Phoenix blue line. The 18-year-old rookie is also third in team scoring with 20 points, as of Saturday afternoon.
But while the Pilsen, Czech Republic native has seamlessly transitioned from the 2nd Czech Republic Hockey League to the QMJHL, he admitted to The Record that he was nervous about leaving his family behind, and lodging with a billet family in Sherbrooke.
“It was just leaving my home and going somewhere new. I didn’t know anybody here, and I was kind of scared of it, but it’s ok now. I know the boys now, and everything is ok, they helped me out a lot,” said Spacek, adding that he has been welcomed with open arms.
He travelled often as a child, mostly around Canada and the United States. His father, Jaroslav, is a former National Hockey League (NHL) defenseman, so he is accustomed to living in a new city, but never on his own, and for an extended period of time.
Spacek speaks to his parents every day, though, whether it’s over the phone or on FaceTime. And he has plans to travel back to his hometown during the winter holidays. He is also waiting, cautiously, for the full Quebec winter experience, which he has heard so much about.
“The snow didn’t hit, so that’s going to be a major change, we don’t really have a lot of snow back home […] it started snowing like two days ago, I was surprised, and they said it was kind of late here,” said Spacek.
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