Powassan Voodoos goalie Jack Ondrovic, was given the opportunity of a lifetime on Tuesday when Sweden’s World Junior hockey team took him on as an emergency recruit.
On paper, the holiday break should be some well-deserved down time for the members of the Powassan Voodoos. But for their goaltender, Jack Ondrovic, it has been anything but quiet and calm.
Instead, it has been an unexpected and serendipitous dream come true for the native of Nepean, Ont.
Ondrovic was an emergency recruit for Team Sweden’s World Junior team on Tuesday and dressed as their backup as they dropped a 10-5 decision to Team USA in exhibition play in Kingston.
“It was a great experience; one of the best I’ve had in hockey so far,” Ondrovic said after the game. “It’s a huge difference to go from Junior A to the World Juniors in that quick of a time.
“You just notice how good these guys are and just hope you can get to that level one day,” he continued.
The Swedish National team, which was practicing at the Bell Sensplex in Ottawa, lost a pair of their goaltenders, Jonas Johansson and Linus Soderstrom, to injury and got Ondrovic and another Ottawa-area junior goaltender to practice with the team on Tuesday morning.
It was after practice when the Swedish coaching staff asked Jack if he could pack his Voodoos goalie bag and travel with Team Sweden for their exhibition game against Team USA and backup Samuel Ward.
“They were all very nice to me and made me feel right at home and tried their best to include me in everything,” Ondrovic explained. “There were no nerves before the game at all. I just wanted to put the jersey on, see the crowd and just get out there more than anything.”
While he didn’t see any game action, he did get to skate in pre-game warm up and witness some of the world’s best junior talent first-hand.
“It’s quick; there are a lot of guys that just make you stand back and say ‘wow, that was really fast,’” Ondrovic said with a laugh. “It’s quite a jump from playing in the NOJHL to playing with the Swedish national team.
“But it just shows you what you have to do to get better but also how close you are to being able to reach that level,” he continued.
Right after getting the call, Ondrovic, a sixth-round draft pick of the North Bay Battalion, immediately called Voodoos’ general manager Chris Dawson to see if he could get approval to dress.
Despite his Canadian nationality and Slovakian descent, Ondrovic was eligbile to play for Sweden under IIHF rules because it was an exhibtion game.
“I wasn’t sure what he was asking at first,” said Dawson. “First thing I told him was yes, but wanted to clarify with the NOHA and the NOJHL first.”
“What an incredible opportunity for the young man,” he continued. “We as an organization are so thrilled for him to experience the chance go play on a national team even if it was just for one day.”
Ironically, goaltending dilemma’s have haunted Ondrovic recently too.
Last week the Powassan Voodoos were forced to dress two affiliate goaltenders for their final game before the Christmas break because goaltender Matt Young was out with a groin injury and Ondrovic was forced to miss the game due to a high fever.
But with the whirldwind once-in-a-lifetime opportunity behind him, Ondrovic can now add his name to an exlcusive list of goaltenders to suit up in the Three Crowns jersey.
“I think that’s the end of my career as a Swedish goalie,” he concluded.