Ulicny Heads Across The Border To Get Back Into The Game
Like many talented athletes, watching hockey players in other countries, including in the USA and Europe, play meaningful games has been difficult.
Here in Canada, most leagues and teams have remained sidelined.
This has led many, including former Chatham-Kent Cyclones forward Johnny Ulicny to cross the border to play. Ulicny recently signed and is playing for the Islanders Hockey Club in Massachusetts, as part of the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC).
“My season has been going well so far,” said Ulicny. “It has only been a couple weeks for me but I am adjusting well and enjoy playing with the Islanders Hockey Club.”
“When I first stepped foot into the locker room I instantly knew with a little bit of time this would definitely be a good fit,” he continued. “The guys on the team have been great since day one welcoming me and not to mention the coaches are great and have done a really good job keeping us accountable. There is no doubt the Islanders run a first class program and I feel that I have been awarded an opportunity to prove myself each and every night here.”
Ulicny, who played in the OJHL’s Top Prospects Game last year, while putting up 12 goals and 27 points for the Markham Royals, said being on the ice and playing actual games has been amazing.
“Playing feels real good. It was weird playing my first game in over 9 months a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “Practicing and playing with a mask has also taken a little while to get used to. I feel that I’m just starting to find my game legs as practice and game speed are quite different. I had sat around waiting for things to get moving in Ontario but as time wore on I felt I needed to find a place to play as I didn’t want to waste the entire year.”
That development year, while watching players in the USA and abroad continue to improve has been a widely debated topic in Canada.
For Ulicny, a former Leamington Flyers player, and Windsor Spitfires draft pick, when the offer came in from the Islanders to play in the NCDC, it was one he couldn’t pass up.
“When the offer to play in the NCDC came, I weighed my options, did my research and felt that at this time it was in my best interest to play hockey. The competition has been real good and quite comparable to the OJHL. I look forward to continuing to chase my hockey goals in Massachusetts and hope all goes according to plan despite COVID shutting down most leagues in Ontario and starting here in most US states.”