Coming back from injury mid-season is a challenge, but a necessary hurdle that many athletes will face, including Devils' forward Marian Studenic.
Sustaining an injury in late December, the 6-foot-1, 178-pound right-winger has missed a number of games, but he has not let his time out from playing get to him. In his first contest back with the Devils, Studenic used his speed to drag the puck into the offensive zone, maneuver around the defenseman and tally his first goal after being sidelined for 10 games.
"It is always hard, but it's still hockey, it's still the game. It is hard to come back, you know, even if you've been playing it your whole life," said Studenic on working toward playing at full strength. "It's hard on the foundation side, a little bit timing too and stuff."
Fortunately for the Holik, Slovakia native, his return to the game comes at a time where his team has improved their numbers greatly. Since December 27, Binghamton has gone 13-5-0-0, including 8-game and 5-game win streaks that helped push them just a few points out of a playoff spot. The Devils will welcome Studenic's quickness and strength in the upcoming games and when asked what he can do to help the Devils stay successful, he responded that he just needs to play his game.
"My skating, that is the strongest part of my game, so just trying to skate as hard as I can, trying to beat guys wide'' stated Studenic.
Devils' Head Coach Mark Dennehy mirrored his sentiment on his skating ability, as well as his faculty to win puck races and apply pressure to the puck.
"He is a really hard-working and respectful young man." said Dennehy. "You hate to see a guy get injured, so he is back and now looking to find his game."
Coach Dennehy also noted the different aspects of Studenic's game that they are working on in practice in order to develop his skills further.
"One of the areas of his game that he is working on is wall play and I thought early on in the game the puck came up his side from the other side and he got over there quick, beat his guy to it, protected the puck, and ended up finding one of our forwards underneath, and those are good signs."
Studenic was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the fifth round, 143rd overall, in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Too nervous to watch, the forward discovered he had been drafted after his parents cheered and congratulated him.
Assigned to Binghamton at the beginning of the 2018-19 season, the right-winger registered 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points in 64 games. While his sophomore season hasn't seen the same production, Studenic is working hard to navigate to a more positive state in the future.
"It's a dream since I was young...I'm going to give 100% if I want to be successful in the future, so there is a ton of motivation. The biggest motivation is the NHL."