Building the Herd – Tomas Hiadlovsky

#53 Tomas Hiadlovsky

Position: Netminder

Born: Trenčín, Trenčiansky kraj, Slovensko

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 2nd June

Hi, ho, Hyadlo! Tomas Hiadlovsky will be bringing #PokecheckCity back to Basingstoke for 2016/17. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Hi, ho, Hyadlo! Tomas Hiadlovsky will be bringing #PokecheckCity back to Basingstoke for 2016/17.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

As we head into “Season Ticket Night” and the traditional announcement of a few players that comes with it, Doug Sheppard announced the return to Basingstoke of Tomas Hiadlovsky as the Bison’s starting netminder for 2016/17.

Heading into his 5th season in British hockey, Hiadlovsky’s first season in the EPL had its ups and down. After an OK start, an ankle injury saw Hiadlovsky miss the over 8 weeks of the season and the performances of Jon Baston made people wonder whether Hiadlovsky would be heading out the door. However a return from injury in February saw Hiadlovsky wrestle back his number one spot and go on an impressive run where from February to the end of the Bison’s season in Coventry, he lost just 2 games. Hiadlovsky finished the title winning season with a career best 2.42 goals against average and equalled his pro career best .914 save percentage.

The 27 year old Slovak started his career in his home town of Trenčín with HK Dukla, working his way through the under 18 and under 20 sides and giving good performances which earned him an under 18s call up and his pro debut in 2006/07 with HK 95 Povazska Bystrica.

In 2007 Tomas moved to Czech side Slovan Ústečtí Lvi, playing for the club’s under 20 and senior sides before moving back to Slovakia to play in the Extraliga with the Slovak under 20 side that plays as an “extra team” in the league to help develop young Slovak talent. The following campaign, Hiadlovsky split his time between that u20 side and Dukla Senica in the 1.liga.

In 2009, Hiadlovsky returned back to Dukla Trenčín for a 3 year spell that mirrored many of the other Eastern Europeans that we’ve spoken about that have played for the Bison as Tomas played Extraliga games for Trenčín whilst having loan spells at MHC Prievidza, MHC Prievidza and HC Puchov along the way.

In 2012 it was time for Hiadlovsky to test the waters outside of his home land again as he moved to Scotland to become the starter for the Edinburgh Capitals. Tomas spent 3 seasons with the Scottish side, becoming a well respected netminder in the EIHL despite the Capitals’ continued lowly finishes. Hiadlovsky played 164 games for Edinburgh with his first season being his statistical best as he had a .901 save percentage and a 3.27 GAA.

My opinion on Tomas Hiadlovsky during the season appeared to be a rather contrary one at times. The big one was obvious; “he goes for too many walks” and I would be sat there saying that Hiadlovsky was the best puck playing goalie we’d had in Basingstoke for some time and loved the fact he was doing it. It wasn’t the goalie that had the problem but the defence that wasn’t adapting to him. People said that he took too long to settle into games and the Bison would give up early goals because he wasn’t ready and I’d be throwing out Dean Skinns comparisons and how it might not have just been the goalie that wasn’t ready. Then out of nowhere against Hull, he was crumpled in a heap on the floor.

The fact that Hiadlovslky has kept the net shouldn’t be a surprise. That’s not the say that Hiadlovsky is a better netminder than Jon Baston, that’s a subjective assessment that I’ll allow you as the reader to make but there’s some traits that Hiadlovsky’s possesses that mean he is a really good choice and why he won the net back at the end of last season. They’re some of the reasons that I think people were won round to him at the end of last season and none of them include a trip to Poke Check City.

The first and actually the biggest one for me is that he seems to possess an unnatural calm in the net. It was actually a trait that both he and Baston shared though they exhibited it in very different ways. Where the Finn was very frantic in his movements, Hiadlovsky remained very cool and composed even in the mad scrambles in front of the net. Both have excellent limb control though with Hiadlovsky it was less youthful exuberance and more control.

The second is his aggression combined with his rebound control. Did it work all the time? No but he worked those two aspects of his game to great effect. The shooter would immediately be challenged and forced into making a decision quicker and when the shot did come it would be kicked or deflected away to a position that would aid the Bison.

The third is that puck playing ability; yes I know some of you will be worried about the walking about but his ability to jump start a play but being able to pass that well helped set things up and extra dimensions to players that help the overall are awesome.

The biggest issue for this coming season is can Hiadlovsky stay healthy? The Bison’s title winning season comes with this massive sub-story surrounding it around the netminding and what happens if we get 54 games of Hiadlovsky or at least with him available as the designated starter? The player that the Bison got after the return from injury hit the ground running and didn’t stop running until the title was in the bag. So imagine what happens if that form and consistency was able to be maintained across the season. There was a warm-up needed and for me, he got a bit of a short shrift from the fans as a result. The EIHL isn’t the EPL and adjustment time was needed. Then when the moment needed, he stood up and made himself be counted.

I read a Flames fan saying if they’d had Richard Ullberg for the full season that the Flames would have won the league last season and if I was full of straw then I’d be a scarecrow. Bison fans now get to hope for a full season to see if he can silence any critics and so does the man himself.

Welcome back, Tomas.

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