CEDAR RAPIDS – Last season’s excursion into the Czech Republic worked so well for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, they went right back there.
Defenseman David Nemecek was one of the “survivors” of this weekend’s annual tryout camp at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The four-day camp concluded Sunday afternoon with a Top 40 Game of what was actually 42 players.
There still are no guarantees you’ll see the 19-year-old once the United States Hockey League regular season starts in the fall, but at least he has made what you could call the first cut.
“It was great competition, I think,” Nemecek said. “All the kids worked really hard. Everybody worked really hard to earn a spot on the team. There was really good speed, really good quality, a high level of hockey.”
Nemecek was taken in the 18th round of the second phase of the 2015 USHL Draft, his advisor/agent tipping off the RoughRiders of his desire to return to North America. The 6-foot-4 left shot spent two seasons playing Major Junior hockey in Canada and last season in Finland.
Because of that, he is not eligible for NCAA competition, so his reasons for wanting to come to the States revolve around being seen by more pro scouts. It is a story similar to that of countryman Jiri Fronk, who had a terrific 2014-15 season with the RoughRiders and is a likely pick in the upcoming 2015 National Hockey League draft.
Nemecek said he has met Fronk once. Unlike Fronk, he speaks English well, a byproduct of already spending time in North America.
He said he will train back home in Plzen, Czech Republic, this summer and has been invited to participate in the Detroit Red Wings development camp in early July.
“I really liked my two years in Canada,” he said. “I tried one year in Finland, but got the opportunity to come here. I wanted to try it ... Yeah, I’m excited. I wouldn’t be here right now if I didn’t want to come. I am excited, enjoyed the camp and am happy to be here.”
Nemecek described himself as a defensive defenseman who likes to play physically and also can make a solid breakout pass.
“Obviously every player’s dream is the National Hockey League. My dream is also that,” he said. “So we’ll see. It’s hard to say right now. It depends on how the next seasons go, how next season goes. We’ll go on from that.”
Sunday’s Top 40 Game included goaltenders Ben Blacker and Ryan Larkin, forwards Ross Colton and Zach Court and defensemen Logan Von Ruden and Derek Daschke, all 2014-15 RoughRiders who could return to the team this season. Forwards Casey Jerry, Cal Burke and Hugh McGing, and defensemen Bryce Hatten and Mitch Reinke also are on that list but sat our Sunday for various reasons.
Defenseman Matt O’Donnell, another possible returnee, did not attend this weekend’s camp, which invitees pay for themselves.
Following Sunday’s game, head coach/general manager Mark Carlson met individually with players the team wants to keep USHL rights to, though a copy of what is known as “The List” was kept private, as has been customary the past couple seasons. The club must turn in a preliminary roster and affiliate roster of younger players to the USHL within the next month.
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