Cleve Dheensaw of the Times Colonist breaks down why Import forward Jiri Fronk isn't at Victoria Royals Main camp which opens today:
The Victoria Royals open main camp Monday with 54 players expected.
But one of them won’t be 19-year-old forward Jiri Fronk, taken 31st overall by Victoria earlier this summer in the European draft conducted by the Canadian Hockey League.
The six-foot-four Fronk, who had a breakout summer with the Czech U-19 team with six goals in eight games, is embroiled in a tug-of-war with his current club team. Fronk had 10 goals and 24 points in 40 games last season for the KLH Chomutov U-20s.
“It’s very complicated,” said Royals GM Cam Hope.
“There is a disagreement regarding his status with his Czech club team. He wants to come to Victoria to play. His Czech club feels it has a right contractually to keep him. We’re waiting to hear back from the IIHF [the international hockey governing body, which will rule] within a week.”
The Royals went with the unusual move of taking a 19-year-old in the European draft, rather than a younger player who could have stayed longer with the team, because Victoria feels it could be on the verge of a dramatic move up the Western Hockey League tables with a solid cast of returnees. It includes Logan Nelson, Steven Hodges, Ben Walker, Brandon Magee, Austin Carroll, Jordan Fransoo, Brett Cote, Trent Lofthouse, Keegan Kanzig, Joe Hicketts and goaltender Patrick Polivka.
Each team in the CHL — of which the WHL is a member — is allowed two European import players. The Royals are hoping Fronk gets to fill that second spot. The first is held by Polivka, who arrives in camp as the clear No. 1 between the pipes.
Polivka will be pushed by returning backup Coleman Vollrath and rookies Michael Herringer of Comox, who showed well in two late-season appearances last spring, Markus Daly of Victoria and the intriguing six-foot-seven Evan Smith from Colorado.
“They will all be pushing for jobs,” Hope said. “Whoever performs the best will get the job as the starter.”
Meanwhile, Hope expects all the Royals bantam draft picks from 2012 and 2013 to move on to main camp along with seven to 10 invitees from the rookie camp, which concludes today.
“A lot of these [rookies] performed well and made decisions tough for us this week,” Hope said.
The Royals’ two most touted 16-year-old rookies — forward Tyler Soy and blueliner Chaz Reddekopp — were given a pass directly to main camp and didn’t have to skate in rookie camp.
Main camp opens Monday morning with fitness testing and the first on-ice session at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre at 3:45 p.m., followed by the first scrimmage at 5 p.m. The intra-squad game is by donation Wednesday evening at 7.
The Royals’ five-game exhibition schedule commences Friday in Everett, Wash.
Nelson (Sabres), Hodges (Panthers), Walker (Wild) and Kanzig (Flames) have been invited to NHL rookie camps and could miss parts of the Royals exhibition season, and even potentially the start of the Royals regular season, depending on whether they advance to NHL main camps.
Victoria’s regular season opens Sept. 20 at the PNE Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver against the Giants, with the first home date the next night against the Giants.
© Copyright 2013