Czech yourself – BOTW speaks to Tomas Karpov

It’s fair to say that Tomas Karpov has had a good season. 37 goals and 39 assists for 76 points in his first full season in addition to being named a first team all star by Ice Hockey Journalists UK and the “coveted” Banners On The Wall player of the year honour; he’s a popular guy. Banners On The Wall caught up with the Bison’s #44 as the season comest o a climax at the playoff weekend in Coventry.

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

We’ll start with the news that you’ve been named a 1st team EPL all star. Congratulations, how does it feel?

Thank you. It is great feeling. I am also happy for other three teammates who were named. It just shows how strong our team is this season.

Born in Benesov, you were part of the Sparta Prague system for many years. Sparta is a famous name in world hockey, what’s that system like to be a part of as a young player?

They bought me when I was just 12. It was very exciting time for me. On the other side I had to wake up at 5:30am every day and my dad or mum drove me to a train station so I could get to Prague where I went to new school. In the afternoon I had practice and then went home. Since I was 15, I lived in Prague with my aunt and uncle and can not thank them enough how they helped me but yes Sparta is big name and I enjoyed playing there.

You spent 2 years in the WHL with Moose Jaw and Calgary, making the WHL finals with the Hitmen. How did you end up in Canada and what was the impact of the experience on you as a player and a person?

I was drafted by Moose Jaw in CHL Import draft in 2007 after the U18 World Championship. It was big step for me to different country, the best junior league in the world. I met new people, improved my English; a great experience.

In my second year I got traded to the best team on our league, the Calgary Hitman and played at the NHL rink in front of 18 000 fans sometimes. We won league by a distance but lost in play off finals against Kelowna. We had great team but they had some individuals who won it for them like Jamie Benn who scored winning goal for Canada at Olympics this year or Tyler Myers who had the biggest salary in NHL last year even he was just 22.

Your former team mate Martin Jones has made quite a stir with the LA Kings this season. Are you still in touch with him and has he got you tickets yet?

Martin is great guy. He was actually my roommate for all the trips and we hang out a lot outside of hockey as well. He had great seasons in AHL past couple of years but LA has strong goaltending so he never got a chance on first team. I am glad he showed everyone this year he could be number one. As for tickets; I will ask him! How many tickets do we need?

You came back from Canada to Sparta and played in the Extraliga but also were loaned out a lot to 1.Liga clubs. Was it frustrating to not be playing more in Prague or were you just happy to be playing?

I got chance to play for Sparta and I thought that it is enough. I didn’t work on myself as I should and that was probably one of the reasons they got rid of me even though I think I was better then couple of players who stayed.

Next year I still had a good position with very good team in the second league but I broke my ankle in the third game of the season and I also didnt get very well along with coach and it was probably my worst season.

In January 2013, you answered the call from Tom Watkins and joined the Telford Tigers. What made you decide that it was time to leave your home country?

After my worst season I was loaned to Beroun which was one of Sparta’s farm teams and 20 miles from Prague so I could stay home. We had a young unexperienced team because our owner did not have much money. Sometimes we did not have sticks, tape and stuff like that. The owner wanted to take off 20% of our monthly salary after second month because we were second last. Even though I had pretty good year (I was captain at the time) I decided not to accept it and with other 3 players, left. Sparta did not want me but because I grew up there they could ask money from a club to loan me if I wanted to play in the Czech Republic and because, for whatever reason they asked for so much, teams did not want me. So I decided I wanna go play abroad.

That Telford team you played in was short on wins but full of heart and character. Do you have good memories of your time with the Tigers?

It was my first experince playing hockey in England; new people, different hockey. I was lucky to be on team with couple of Czech-Slovak imports who helped me a lot with everything. I have some good and bad memories from Telford but overal I enjoyed it.

What made you decide to join Basingstoke?

I knew Basingstoke was good team. When Tim (Burrows) told me Doug wanted to talk me, I was pretty excited and I liked what he planned for this season. I hoped to be on winning team and I made best possible move.

When Tim Burrows signed for the Bison he described you “a playmaker with ability to score who works hard”, do you think that’s a good way to describe your game?

I used to describe myself more as a playmaker. This year I found out I can score as well and I like it. (We won’t lie, we’re pretty happy about it as well. Ed)

What are the real differences between the way hockey is played here and in the Czech Republic?

Hockey in the Czech Republic is more professional. You train in the morning and you don’t have a second job. You have more tactics in game as well. I would compare EPL to the third best league in Czech but some teams could play on second as well!

You’ve developed quite a partnership with Andy Melachrino; is there a reason why you think you work so well together?

Doug put us together since the first practice and we stick to it. Because of that we know where we are on the ice and we know what we could except from each other. That’s a big advantage. We also enjoy it which is important.

When the final buzzer sounded on the EPL cup final, how did it feel?

Relieved! Milton Keynes fought hard until Mely scored that third goal and if he did not we would have had our hands full of defending our end.

Can this Bison team win the playoffs?

Yes!

Any message for the Bison fans as the season comes to a close?

Thank you for all your support! Best fans in the league by far! You are a big part of our wins.

Final question: Will you ever tell the monkey?

I will never tell the monkey!

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