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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

5 Minutes in the Box with: Tomas Jurco

Last season, I did "2 Minutes in the Box with" Q & A features, and I figured now was as good a time as any to resurrect that.

NHL.com's Mike Morreale and I pinned down Slovak winger Tomas Jurco for about five minutes after his team's overtime victory against Germany the other night, so rather than just sift through my questions, I thought I would post the entire transcript for all to see.

Most of these Q&As won't run as long as this one did, and are therefore more of the two-minute minor variety. But, Jurco was extremely accomodating, and I would venture to say that this is one of the more detailed looks at a top 2011 draft candidate. Admittedly, didn't see him in action against USA, so my thoughts are based on video I've seen of him in Saint John and his limited ice time against Germany.

Tomas Jurco; 12/27/10- Buffalo, NY
Slovakia 2, Germany 1 (OT)

Q1: How important was it for Slovakia to get the win in the first game of the tournament tonight?

Tomas Jurco: Yeah, sure- it was a pretty hard game and it we stayed focused until the end and we won. It was obviously a really big win for us.

Q2: How huge was the goaltender for you tonight?

TJ: Our goalie was awesome. He had a few great saves and we really appreciate it. He’s a really good guy and a goalie so it’s even better for us.

Q3: How’s his (Dominik Riecicky’s) English?

TJ: His English? He doesn’t speak. (laughs)

Q4: If he plays like that tomorrow night against the U.S. would you give your team a shot?

TJ: Oh, sure. If he plays like he did tonight, I would say it’s going to be really hard games for USA. I think we can play really good defensively we can even beat the USA.

Q5: How about this tournament for you, Tomas? What were your expectations coming in; what were your personal goals for this tournament? Did you set anything for yourself?

TJ: I didn’t really have any goals for myself. The big goal for us is to go as far as we can and maybe get the medal.

Q6: How important has it been for you to be in North America? This is now your second season after coming over from Slovakia- how has that helped you play on this ice surface?

TJ: I think it’s really helped me a lot to get used to the size of the rink and just help with the zones. The neutral zone is smaller; it’s really hard for a European player so I feel real confident right now.

Q7: Culturally too? An adjustment coming over from Europe and being in Saint John- has it been, was it a real change for you culturally with learning the language and all?

TJ: Yeah. When I first came I didn’t really speak English. It was really hard to learn to speak English. At first, I would say the hardest thing then I had to get used to was the league and the off-sides and different play. After first half of the season, I get used to it and it’s much better now.

Q8: Tomas, how about you physically? Do you enjoy the physical aspect of the game; do you get into the corners? Is that part of your game?

TJ: I wouldn’t say I’m like a really physical guy. I would say I’m more like skills, skating and that type of player. But I’m not afraid to get hit and all those things.

Q9: How about playing in Saint John with your teammates there- you’ve got quite a team. What’s it like to be a part of that and are you optimistic that the team can make a run this year?

TJ: The atmosphere there is really good and we are on winning streak, so I hope we are going to continue like that. And hopefully win the league and get to the Mem. Cup.

Q10: Did you have any hockey idols that you looked up to and tried to pattern your game after?

TJ: When I was young, maybe like 13, I liked, I still like Sidney Crosby. But now, I like Slovakian players in the NHL. I like Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa.

Q11: How about that shootout goal? That thing is a Youtube sensation- were you caught up by Youtube and that goal? Do a lot of people talk about that? Do you recall the play and how fun it was to score that goal?

TJ: Yeah. I was remembering it and it was really great feelings right after. It didn’t have that much attention before; I would say this year it got more attention than last year. But I’m really happy for that and we’ll see, maybe I’m going to repeat it sometime.

Q12: Did you know you were going to make that move?

TJ: Yeah, I knew that. I would say I made that move when I was little. When I was little, I used to play ball hockey and I tried all those moves. So, I tried it in a game and it worked, so I’m really happy.

Q13: What has been the most interesting story or experience you’ve had since coming over to the Quebec League? Anything out of the ordinary?

TJ: Ah, no. Not really.

Q14: Just one of the guys?

TJ: Yeah, I’m just one of the guys. We have a really good team and the guys are happy with everything.

Q15: How about (Jonathan) Huberdeau? He’s having a heck of a season.

TJ: Yeah, Jonathan Huberdeau is having a really good year. He’s got lots of points so it can help him a lot this year for his draft year.

Q16: Are you excited to both be there experiencing (the draft) together?

TJ: Sure. It’s really good to play with the players like that: Jonathan Huberdeau, Zack Phillips, Nathan Beaulieu—we’re all four prospects for this year, so it’s really exciting to play there. For sure it’s got the good side, but it’s got a worse side for all those players to be together so they don’t get that much ice time. If you gotta fight for the ice time, it’s really hard, so it’s better for the team.

Q17: Are you on a line with Zack Phillips?

TJ: I used to play with Zack Phillips and Jonathan Huberdeau, but now I play with Stanislav Galiev and Michael Kirkpatrick. We switched the lines.

Here's the aforementioned YouTube sensation shootout vid for those who haven't seen it.

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