Bruins welcome three players from overseasPublished 6:17am Sunday, September 15, 2013
The Austin Bruins are probably going to have a few fans overseas this season.
After having success with foreign players in the past, the Bruins have brought in three players from Europe who will make their NAHL debuts this season. The trio includes Dominik Florian, a 6-foot, 1-inch, 190-pound, forward from Vlasim in the Czech Republic, Simon Petersson, a 6-1, 196-pound defenseman from Vimmerby, Sweden and Guillaume Leclerc, a 5-8, 165-pound forward from Franois, France.
Florian played in Wisconsin and Canada over the past three years, but Petersson and Leclerc are living in North America for the first time in their lives.
“It’s been kind of a big change. There’s a lot of new stuff to work on, and the rink is a bit smaller. So far it’s been great,” Petersson said. “Away from hockey, the food is a bit different, but it’s not that big of a change.”
The Bruins found a gem when they brought in Christian Folin from Gothenberg, Sweden, a few years back. Folin was a top defenseman for Austin and played in the Frozen Four last year at Division I University of Massachusets-Lowell.
It would be a lot to ask for any of these three players to reach Folin’s level, but Bruins head coach Chris Tok is confident that all three can contribute this season.
“Simon’s got pretty good feet, and he’s got a little bit of feistiness in him for a Swede. He should be a top-four defender for us,” Tok said. “Dominic’s kind of a big bull in a China shop. He’s probably not going to look pretty, but he goes hard, and he’ll score some ugly goals. He’ll create some havoc because he’s a big kid and he skates well. Guillaume’s a small kid and he’s really strong on his skates. He should provide some good offense, and we’ve got to get him accustomed to North America a little bit.”
Leclerc speaks the least English of the three and is also the youngest. He’ll attend Pacelli High School this year as he looks to learn to play in the NAHL and sharpen up on his English.
Tok said having Europeans on the team doesn’t just help the squad with hockey. It will also help his players learn to be patient when they’re on the ice together.
“We’ve got to have patience, and it may help some of our other players because we have to slow down and articulate our words a little bit,” Tok said. “It could even help the guys that speak English real good, because when we get mad, we’ve got to take a breath and teach.”
Austin goalie Nick Lehr said the Europeans have fit in just fine with the team.
“Most of the Euros understand English,” Lehr said. “We make jokes with them here and there, but they’re pretty fun guys.”
Florian left his home the Czech Republic three years ago and has gotten used to being away. He’s now focused on becoming the best hockey player he can be, so he can get to the next level.
“I like to stick handle, but that doesn’t really work here. I want to work on back checking and defense,” Florian said. “The Bruins are one of the best teams in the NAHL. I know they have a good program, and the coaches are great.”