History will be made by the Kalkaska Rhinos during the 2017-18 season.
Tomasz Skokan, a Polish defenseman entering his third season with the Rhinos, has been named team captain – the first-ever Polish-born player to wear the ‘C’ at the junior level in North America.
Like a true leader, the 19-year-old Skokan is humbled by the honor.
“For me, in some way this is an achievement, but the most important thing being captain is to create the team like one big family,” said Skokan.
“Tommy has been on his own since he left home at 14 to further his hockey career,” added Rhinos coach-GM Krzysztof Oliwa. “He came to us in January of 2015 as one of the top prospects from Poland and we saw what a true talent he is. The amount of work he puts in, I don’t know if I have ever seen a player work as hard as he does. After every game, win or lose, he gets changed and heads up to the gym. That is so amazing to see.”
In eight games two seasons ago, Skokan compiled five goals and 12 points and then last season in his first full year in Kalkaska, he tallied nine goals and 34 points in 25 games.
On the international stage, Skokan represented Poland at the U18 and U20 World Championships in 2015-16 and again at the U20 World Championship in 2016-17.
Skokan, who has spent the summer training in Europe, is excited to get back on Michigan soil and suit up for the Rhinos.
“Last season was successful for me and I hope this upcoming season will be even better as I am well-prepared for the season,” said Skokan. “I am sure I will fit well into the team and hopefully, we win the cup. Personally, I want to be one of the league’s top defensemen.
“I don’t like to talk about myself, but my role on the team is to be an offensive defenseman, create the game, and be a part of the offense as well as be first player back. European hockey is much different than hockey in the U.S. and by coming to the Rhinos, I have experienced a different style of hockey as the game is much quicker. This gives me the opportunity to develop my skills such as quicker reaction time, things like that.”
And being in Kalkaska has been the best thing for Skokan’s continued development.
“I would be lying if I said it’s not difficult being here without family, but it’s the life I chose and I am trying to do the best at what I can – it’s not something new for me,” said Skokan. “Kalkaska is a brilliant place to develop my hockey skills and improve overall performance and of course, we cannot forget about our fantastic fans and atmosphere around the organization.”
Source: Kalkaska Rhinos