Matej Tomek Heading Back To Junior Hockey

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TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 31: Goaltender Matej Tomek #2 of Team Slovakia makes a save against Team Russia in a preliminary round - Group B game during the IIHF World Junior Championship on December 31, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Adam Pulicicchio/Getty Images)

By  Ariel Melendez

It hasn’t been the best few years for Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matej Tomek. The season before he was drafted in 2015, Tomek played in the USHL for the Topeka Roadrunners. After putting up a .928 save percentage in 33 games, Tomek went to the University of North Dakota. However in two seasons with the Fighting Hawks, he has only appeared in two games.

Matej Tomek Heading To Juniors

Just before the start of his freshman year at UND, Tomek had groin surgery. This is where his troubles establishing himself began. The surgery put him out for several months. By the time he dressed for a game in November, fellow goaltender Cam Johnson had already established himself as the team’s number one goaltender.

His only appearance that season came in a 4-1 exhibition win over the U.S. Under-18 Team in January. He played the final four minutes and 42 seconds, but did not face a shot on goal. He dressed as the team’s third goaltender on 10 different occasions.

International Experience

Tomek also played for Slovakia at the World Junior Hockey Championships last year. In two appearances, he posted a 3.50 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. He came into the next season hoping those games would give him more playing time.

Now finishing his sophomore year, Tomek only appeared in one other game. He played a total of 32 minutes and 11 seconds of official game action during his career at North Dakota.

“From a goaltending point, you just want to help the team out as much as you can,” Tomek said. “For a goalie, the only way (to help) pretty much is to be in the net and make the key saves in the key moments.

Beginning to grow impatient waiting for his opportunity, another team came calling that would look to give Tomek the starting role he wanted.

Drafted by Waterloo Black Hawks

After being selected by Waterloo in the USHL Draft, Tomek was faced with a decision. He could either return to college or go to juniors for one more year. It became easy as Tomek decided to utilize his last year of junior hockey eligibility.

It is clear that Tomek would likely remain without playing time if he chose to stay at North Dakota. By playing for Waterloo, Tomek won’t miss a year of playing if he decides to then transfer to another school afterwards. He would then be able to play for another college in the 2018-19 season.

When his season with Waterloo ends, Tomek will have more decisions to make. He will have two years of collegiate eligibility left. There are a few routes that he could take. He could transfer, sign with the Flyers or forgo the NCAA route all together.

Others Who Have Gone this Route

Anthony Stolarz took the last route when he left the University of Nebraska-Omaha to join the OHL’s London Knights. He struggled at UNO, recording a 2-5-0 record, a 2.56 GAA and .898 SV% during his freshman season. The move seemed to work for Stolarz as his first full season for the Knights saw him finish with a 25-5-1 record, along with a 2.53 GAA and .923 SV%

With players such as Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom waiting in the wings as well, Tomek’s best decision would likely be either major junior or transferring. Playing time is unlikely to come if Tomek decided to sign with the Flyers.

Entering the next season Tomek is expected to be the Hawks number one goaltender. Peter Thome, the Hawks current goaltender, is committed to North Dakota and will be joining them in the fall. The decisions can wait as Tomek will be getting the starting job that he has been searching for.

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