“This is where Draisaitl started,” Kubiesa on beginning WHL career in Prince Albert
*Parts of this article has been translated and edited from Czech
A week ago in Břeclav, Czechia, Matej Kubiesa recorded four goals and one assist at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Now, the 16-year-old forward is generating a buzz among Prince Albert Raiders’ fans. With his enthusiasm, skating, hockey IQ, and ability to finish a play, his talents will translate well as he gets set to enter the Western Hockey League.
But why did the Frydek-Mistek, Czechia native choose to commit to the Raiders? The answer is simple to him: more ice time and a better opportunity to develop.
“I will have more room to improve my game in Canada,” Kubiesa explained. “I didn’t feel there was much of a chance that I would get to play regularly for the A team in Europe, which is why I chose the path of a Canadian junior. There were five of us players from Třinec at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and for all of us to play regularly in the first team is unrealistic.
Already last season, he played abroad in Malmö, Sweden, where he played in 17 games and managed 15 points in the junior league.
The decision to leave for the Prince Albert Raiders came quickly. “My agent Mr. Krejčí called me to say that they (the Raiders) were interested in me, and a couple days later I had a conference call with the general manager and my family.”
“After my return from Sweden, we openly discussed that if I had the opportunity to go to the Canadian junior team, I would use it, and both sides respected that. I would like to thank the Steelers for the great years I spent here. I’m glad that I could say goodbye to the club with the title of champion of the junior extra league,” Kubiesa said.
If his development goes in the right direction and gradually rises like it has so far, he can look at next year’s NHL draft with promising hopes. “The draft is one of the main priorities, I think it’s every player’s dream. But it’s not just about that,” he points out. “I’m going to play against the best junior players in the world to improve my hockey skills.
“My parents have always taught me that if I want to improve and progress, I should always try to play with the best and learn from them. I realize that there is a big challenge ahead of me and I have to work hard and honestly every day.”
In addition to the likes of Leon Draisaitl, the famous Mike Modano and Josh Morrisey have passed through the organization in the past, as well as Milan Kraft, for example. “And I know they are doing a great job there with young players like me. There is a great emphasis on the skill development of the players.”
“At the moment, we (player and agent) communicate with Prince Albert on a regular basis. We feel they are genuinely happy to have me and want to give me a good opportunity, but everything will depend on my performance. I’m one of two imports there and I must prove that I’m better than the locals or I won’t get my place. But I also consider this as a great program that should help me in my next career,” Kubiesa said.
“Matěj’s strength is his enormous speed and ability to play one-on-one. He plays energetically and with a high physical level. He is competitive and I think he will fit right into our group. The fans will be excited to see him play,” Hunt added.
You can watch Kubiesa, as well as fellow import selection Krzysztof Macias in action when the Raiders kick off the 2023-24 campaign on September 22nd at home against the Moose Jaw Warriors.