International Ice Hockey Federation

Sabolic feeling at home

Sabolic feeling at home

Slovenian forward enjoys Czech Republic

Published 07.05.2015 15:45 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Sabolic feeling at home
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 5: Slovenia's Robert Sabolic #55 follows the play during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Robert Sabolic and the Slovenian national team face an uphill battle in their final four games of the Preliminary Round.

The 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship have been less than successful so far for Slovenia. With three straight losses, Slovenia’s chance to advance beyond Ostrava grows slimmer by the day and they are instead fighting to stay out of last place in Group B.

Sabolic has produced in his many performances with the national team. Since 2011, he’s been one of Slovenia’s top forwards. Coming into this tournament, Sabolic scored three goals and seven points in 13 World Championship games. He was also impressive for Slovenia in their 2013 Olympic qualifier, scoring three goals in three games.

This tournament holds some special appeal for Sabolic since he’s spent the 2014/15 season in the Czech Republic.

Last summer Sabolic signed with Sparta Prague on a three-year deal. The move to the Czech Republic was an important one at the time for Sabolic. Since 2012 he played for German side ERC Ingolstadt of the DEL. Prior to that he spent the majority of his career playing in Slovenia. A league such as the Czech Extraliga was very competitive and would offer an opportunity for Sabolic to improve his game.

“The move to Prague was important to consider for my development,” said Sabolic. “I think that is why I decided to go there because it would help my game.”

His game was helped by the transition to the Czech Republic and has improved.

Sabolic scored 14 goals and 29 points on the season. This was his highest point total since his 2013/14 season with Ingolstadt.

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“It is nice to play in Czech because it was something new for me,” Sabolic said of his first year in a new league and country. “It was definitely different than Germany so I tried to get used to it, and I think I did.”

Sabolic played with different linemates throughout the season. The head coach changed lines a lot so Sabolic did not play with any consistent line. Knowing this, his production is even more impressive. Still, he finished eighth on the team in scoring.

Sabolic is looking forward to the next few years in Prague. He has two more years on his contract and hopes to improve as a player, win league titles, help Slovenia in international competition when they call and enjoy the new city that for now he calls home during the hockey season.

“Prague is really nice,” he said. “It is a beautiful city, with so much history and I really love it.”

Even if this leg of the tournament is all, Sabolic will savour the experience but committed to helping his team avoid relegation and win some games.

“It is a great atmosphere here in (CEZ Arena),” Sabolic said. “Even when we lose we have to pick ourselves up, play better and get some points before this is all over.”

Sabolic hopes to get back to Prague with the Slovenes rather than just for the next season with Sparta.

“It would a very cool thing but we have a lot of work to do,” said Sabolic.



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