While his teammates are enjoying a break away from hockey and some well-deserved rest and family time, Milos Roman finds himself still fully immersed in the game.
But the 18-year-old wouldn’t have it any other way.
Roman is in Buffalo, more than 7,000 kilometres away from home this holiday season, as part of Team Slovakia at the 2018 IIHF world junior hockey championships.
Growing up in Slovakia, Roman remembers watching the tournament, and this will mark his second time competing in the top junior competition. Last year, he registered a goal and an assist in four games for the squad.
“This is a big opportunity for me,” Roman said following a Vancouver Giants practice earlier this month.
Roman has been impressive over the first 33 games of his Western Hockey League career.
“I didn’t know a lot about him (but) I had heard some things so I was going in with an open mind,” said Giants coach Jason McKee, about his new import forward.
Roman quickly made an impression.
After his team stumbled out to a 0-2 start to the season, Roman quickly found himself centring the Giants top line and in the season’s third game, delivered a four-point game. He hasn’t looked back since, leading all WHL rookies with 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists).
“He is everything you want in a prototypical No. 1 centre — he can play against the other’s team top line (and) he still created offence.”
“He is a great, 200-foot player, he is competitive in everything he does,” the coach added.
And Roman has caught more than just the Giants and Team Slovakia’s attention as he has also been chosen to play in the 2018 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
It will take place Jan. 25 in Guelph, Ont. and will give the centre a chance to showcase his game against the other top draft-eligible players from around the CHL ahead of the NHL’s June entry draft.
And the NHL remains the ultimate goal.
Roman — the youngest of three boys — texts daily to his parents, adding that while it is hard on them with him so far away, they also understand that he is chasing his NHL dream.
He is from a small town called Kysucke Nova Mesto, which has a population of less than 20,000.
Being away from home, however, is nothing new, as Roman played with JC Frydek-Mistek, a men’s team in the Czech2 league. He finished with four goals and six points in 29 games.