Building the Herd – Tomas Fojtik

#2 Tomas Fojtik

Position: Defence

Born: Kopřivnice, Moravskoslezský, Czech Republic

Announced as signed: Bison website, 9th August

 

As the 2012/13 season edged ever closer, Doug Sheppard finally let on to the identity of the Bison’s import forward with the announcement today of Czech defenceman, Tomas Fojtik.

 

28 year old Fojtik started his hockey career in the Czech under 20 league with his home town team Kopřivnice at 16. He spent a season with the junior sides at Novy Jicin and Havirov before making his first overseas venture. During the 2003/04 season Fojtik spent a year in the Western Hockey League after being drafted in the CHL import draft by the Portland Winterhawks. Also taken in that import draft was Nottingham Panthers latest defensive signing Martin Tuma. In Portland, Fojtik was part of a winning season of 34-29-6 playing alongside popular NHL’er Brandon Dubinsky and the fantastically named Robin Big Snake as well as scoring 15 points in 65 games. After his year in the states, Fojtik returned home to finish his under 20 career in 2004/05, splitting time between Brno and Vsetin. Fojtik turned pro in 2005 by returning to the US and the Fresno Falcons of the ECHL where he appeared in 54 contests, scoring 9 points before brief appearances for the Jacksonville Barracudas of the SPHL and the now defunct HK Kings in Sweden’s 4th tier. 2007/08 saw Fojtik start the season in the Czech 2nd division with HC Kometa Brno where he made 28 appearances before joining Sumperk in their fruitless battle against relegation. 2008 saw another move away from his homeland as Fojtik joined Varese Bulldogs in the Italian 2nd tier where he played alongside former Bracknell and Swindon import Michal Pinc. Varese missed the playoffs going 7-25 over the season with Tomas scoring 14 points in 29 games with 112 PIMs. 2009/10 is an odd season if you read Fojtik’s stats. He apparently played 8 games for Spisska Nova Ves in the Slovak Extraliga then 2 games for Prostejov in the Czech 3rd league before returning to Italy and playing for Neumarkt Wild Geese in the playoffs where they lost in the 1st round Fojtik scored 3 points in 5 games in the process. The last 2 seasons however make much more sensible reading. 2010/11 saw Tomas head west to France and Montpellier Vipers in the 2nd tier in France. In 17 games (remember, the French seasons are a lot shorter than here) Fojtik scored 1 goal and 8 assists for 9 points with 24 PIMs. Last season he played for Reims and scored 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points with 38 PIMs in 25 games as well as 2 assists in 5 playoff games as Reims finished 4th in the league and made it to the semi finals of the playoffs.

So not Senko, not Harabin but someone completely out of the blue. Sometimes it is nice to be wrong. With Manchester trumpeting their new signing to the sky today, the signing of Fojtik may well go a bit under the radar in the world of British hockey today but that’s no bad thing in some respects. Sometimes it’s better to go unnoticed.

The obvious thing to note is that from the stats we’ve signed someone who should do alright in this league. The French 2nd tier is probably half a step up from the EPL and players generally don’t score mega tons of points so it looks like he’ll do the job he’s being brought in for. We needed a left sided shot in the defence (we had 3 rights and a left before this signing) so that evens things up a bit and apparently uses his size well, something that Kieras and Petran have had trouble with at times. For a guy his size he also has remarkably low PIMs bar that one season in Italy. That said the press release from Coach Sheppard made it clear he’s there to use his size and knowing the officiating in this country, I’m sure we’ll see him called for a fair bit thoug even doubling his PIMs from last season to 76 would still be more than alright over the course of a 54 game season.

It’s always hard to tell how players will adapt to the EPL game. The officiating, the ice surfaces, the schedule all play an impact. Playing the lighter schedules in France has never been a problem for imports coming over to the heavier schedule here. Fojtik has played 50 and 60 game seasons before and at 28 years old is the right age to be able to manage the strain. The only unknown factor is how his game will fit into the British style. Marek Dubec was the prime example of a very good hockey player that came to Britain but didn’t suit the style of play. It’s less of an issue for a forward but as the single import defenceman, there is a slightly greater weight on Fojtik’s shoulders in that respect. However there seems to be little to suggest that he can’t handle the load nor should we overly worry before we’ve seen him out there.

Tomas looks to be the sort of player that we need; a big man with a big shot who can use his size well and be responsible in his own end. With the firepower we have up front and a defence re-enforced with a 250lbs blueliner who can skate well, it’s certainly looking promising but we need to see how it fits on the ice.

We also have one import left to announce…I’ll comment on that when it’s announced.

In the meantime welcome to the Herd, Tomas. This could be a very interesting year.

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