By Carmen Dittoe – Silvertips Staff Writer
EVERETT, Wash. – The transition to junior hockey is rarely considered easy. Moving away from home and leaving family and community behind to start a new career in a new place is nothing short of a massive life change. It’s even more challenging when the new place is on a different continent and everyone is speaking a foreign language.
Martin Fasko-Rudas, a native of Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, made a 5,363 mile leap of faith that landed him in Everett, Wash. After being drafted by the Silvertips in the 2017 CHL Import Draft (round one, No. 58 overall), he arrived for preseason training last fall and quickly realized that the english language taught in Slovak schools was much different than the english that people spoke on the west coast.
However, throughout the course of the season, both his english and hockey skills saw incredible amounts of steady improvement. The paths of progress were undoubtedly moving hand in hand, but they were not without prior difficulties. The first barrier came when he arrived in Everett thinking he had a decent grasp on english.
“I took english classes at my school back home! So I thought I knew the main things in the language. But when I came to Everett, I didn’t understand any of it.”
Luckily, his teammates quickly took action. They frequently watched American movies with subtitles and made Fasko-Rudas say the words on the screen out loud. To go even further, the boys spent hours on the bus reading road signs with him during trips. It was not long before their mini school of english saw results.
“At the beginning, it was really difficult,” said Fasko-Rudas. “New language, new team, new country…everything was new. But during the season as I spoke better english, everything got way better.”
Head coach Dennis Williams said Fasko-Rudas got better and better as the season moved on, which was a testament to his work ethic and will to adjust.
“It’s never easy for a player to come thousands of miles over,” explained Williams. “But to be able to adjust to the pace and compete to the expectations of the WHL and of those held here in Everett—that’s really something.”
Williams said that the biggest sign of the left wing’s adjustment was “his steadiness of improvement throughout the year. He played his best hockey towards the end of the season and into the playoffs.”
Teammate Jake Christiansen had an up-close and personal view of Fasko-Rudas’ development—they were roommates at the very start of the season. He agreed that Fasko-Rudas consistently improved through the year, and credited it to the right-shooter’s character.
“He’s just a really passionate guy,” said Christiansen. “He is always pushing so hard, he never lets his foot off the gas pedal. He is always trying to better himself.”
Christiansen said this work led Fasko-Rudas to play a huge role in the success of the team.
“We relied on him to bring energy, and he was probably the best tracker on the team,” said Christiansen. He was so good, in fact, that he earned the nickname “man-tracker.”
With Fasko-Rudas’ constant improvement and the existence of open roles to fill on the team, Williams explained that he expects the player will rise to the occasion.
“With a lot of our players up front moving on,” said Williams, “it’s a great opportunity for him to step up into a different role than last year and round out his capabilities.” The coach said there is an open opportunity for Fasko-Rudas to be an integral part of the team’s forward group.
Christiansen believes his teammate has earned these open doors and opportunities.
“He gave it his all, up and down the ice. He got so much better throughout the year, purely because he worked so hard,” explained Christiansen. “When you work as hard as he does, success comes to you as a reward.”
Fasko-Rudas will return to the ice in Everett in a month for camp as he continues to progress in all aspects of his game and life.