Michael Cicek: Ready to take the next step in Kelowna
The Kelowna Rockets added some depth last week at centre by trading for 19-year-old Michael Cicek from the Spokane Chiefs.
The Winnipeg, MB product was busy getting ready for the day last Friday when a call from Spokane Chiefs general manager Matt Bardsley popped up on his phone.
Bardsley informed Cicek that they had dealt him to the Rockets. Soon after a call from Rockets assistant general manager Curtis Hamilton and head coach Kris Mallette followed.
“A rush of emotions hit me when I got the first call,” said Cicek in a telephone interview with kelownarockets.com earlier this week. “The trade caught me off guard, but in the end it’s exciting. I think it’s a good thing and I’m excited to be a part of the Rockets.”
Originally a sixth-round pick of Spokane at the 2019 WHL Prospects Draft, Cicek is heading into his third WHL campaign.
After missing the 2020-21 campaign due to Covid-19 restrictions, he cracked the Chiefs lineup as a 17-year-old rookie in 2021-22.
In his first season, he posted four points (1G, 3A) in games before suffering an upper-body injury that saw him miss nearly two months of action. When it was all said and done, he recorded five points through 32 games as a rookie.
This past season, Cicek more than doubled his point total from the year before, recording 12 points (4G, 8A) over 41 games.
With 73 WHL games under his belt, Cicek has learned one key thing, you can’t coast on cruise control in the Western Hockey League.
“Probably the biggest thing I’ve taken away is, you know you’re in the league and you’re a player, but sometimes that isn’t enough. You need to keep pushing yourself and putting in that extra work to make sure that you’re furthering your game and helping your team succeed.”
Michael is the younger brother of defenceman Nick Cicek, who spent three seasons with the Portland Winterhawks and served as their captain during the 2020-21 campaign. Nick spent the majority of this past season with the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL, but dressed in 16 games for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.
It always helps when you have someone to lean on who understands the trials and tribulations of playing major junior hockey. Michael said that he’s leaned on his brother for advice at points in his career.
“Nick has taught me that you have to put your head down and go to work, no matter what gets thrown at you. Like the trade for example it’s a big deal, but it’s just hockey. You need to go to work, you’ve gotta perform, do the best that you can in every situation, just be a good person and the chips will fall into place.”
Heading into his 19-year-old campaign, Cicek has a fresh start with the Rockets and a blank canvas to work with. There’s been growth in his game over the last two seasons and he’s ready to take the next step in Kelowna.
“I want to keep getting better as a player, I want to play the full season and contribute to our teams’ success. This season I hope to put up some more points and really make a name for myself. I want the other teams to know who I am when they’re up against us and who we are as a team. I hope to create a nice pedestal for myself heading into my 20-year-old year.”
We asked Cicek to self-describe his game for us to give fans a better understanding of what the 6’2”, 175-pound centre will bring to the table.
“I like to think I’m a two-way power forward, I use my size and skill to my advantage,” said Cicek. “I like being strong and heavy through the middle, in the faceoff dot and supporting my defence in the defensive zone. On the offensive side of it, I like flying through the middle with speed on the rush, creating plays and working in the corners.”
The Rockets roster currently only features one other Manitoba-born player, Swan River, MB product Will Munro. Cicek and Munro aren’t familiar with each other, Cicek actually doesn’t really know anyone on the Rockets roster.
“I don’t know anyone on the team, I only know them as the opponent on the other side of the red line. I’m excited for training camp and to get to Kelowna where I’ll meet some new faces and make 25 new lifelong friends.”
This atTheWHL admin is no good at wrapping presents.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) December 18, 2022