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Lukas Parik Grateful for a Whirlwind of a Year

'I still can't believe it. To be drafted by the best league in the world. That's crazy!'

by Julie Robenhymer @JulieRobenhymer / LAKings.com

It's been an eventful six months for Lukas Parik.

It started in June when he was selected 87th overall in the 3rd round of the 2019 NHL Draft by the LA Kings.

"I was at home in Czech Republic with my family watching on TV. It was already night time here and I wasn't expecting to be drafted until the later rounds, so I got in the shower," the 18-year-old goalie said. "And, while I was in the shower, my agent called me and told me I was drafted by the Kings and I was like, 'What?!' and he told me I was picked 87th and I said, 'No. You must be joking.'"

Instagram from @lparik33: Media day🇺🇸🏒

"So, I literally just ran out of the shower and went into the living room and told my parents I was picked 87, but there was a delay on the TV and they were only on 85 and we were so confused. I didn't even believe it myself because I didn't see it anywhere, but then we were able to watch it and it was so exciting. My phone blew up. I had three people from the Kings call me within 30 minutes and it all just happened so fast.

"They asked if I could be at the airport the next morning at 5am to go to development camp and I was like that's in eight hours. I needed to start packing up my things and figure out how I was going to sleep that night and I was really glad I had taken that shower already," he continued with a laugh.

"I don't even think it hit me that I was drafted until I was on the plane and had some time to myself and I just couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. To be drafted by the best league in the world. That's crazy!"

Watch: Youtube Video

Last season, Parik was playing in the top Czech junior league with a few games for the men's team in the Czech second division, but was ready for a new challenge.

"I was in a really good spot in Liberec," he said. "I can honestly say it's the biggest facility we have in Czech Republic. They have three ice rinks, a shooting area, locker rooms for two teams. So it's really, really nice and is a good spot to develop, but even if I moved up to the men's team, it's only second league and it's not really comparable to the CHL. If it was the top league, maybe, but then I probably wouldn't be the starter. So in the middle of last year, I knew I was ready to move on."

He was on the ice at Kings development camp during the CHL Import Draft and it was actually Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford who told him he had been selected by the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL.

"I was really excited to go to the WHL and really happy to be selected by Spokane," Parik said. "It was the number one team I wanted to go to. I had researched all the leagues and I really wanted to play in the WHL. It's more physical and there's more focus on defense and I thought it would be the best fit for me and really help me get better."

"And, I wanted to go to Spokane because all of the resources are just really great - the gym, the staff, the coaches, the players. Everything is just at the top level and the guys are so nice."

Instagram from @lparik33: Thank you @lakings for amazing week and great experience 🏒❤️

As evidence of that, fellow Kings prospect Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who had just finished his junior career as captain of Spokane and was also at development camp, was the next person to congratulate him and welcome him to the team.

"That was really nice of him," Parik said. "I felt like I was part of the team from day one."

Things got even more interesting in August when he was invited to Czech Republic's U20 national team camp to be considered for the 2020 World Junior Championship, which would be held in Czech Republic for the first time in 12 years.

"It was already a goal of mine to be on this team because I knew the tournament was here in Czech Republic and all my friends and family could be here too. It wasn't until I got invited to the U20 camp this summer that I thought it might actually be possible," he said.

"But even then, it was just a summer camp. I knew I needed to work on myself to actually make the team and really push myself hard if I wanted to be here. So, four months ago I was just like, 'Let's go!'"

Instagram from @lparik33: Thanks @bauergoalie for this 🔥 setup. I can't thank enough #bauergoalie #bauer

He settled into the team in Spokane, earned the starting role and has a 2.59 goals against average and .914 save percentage through 13 games with the Chiefs for a 9-2-2 record.

"It's different style of hockey in the US," said the 6-foot-4, 185 pound netminder. "The rink is smaller and the players are faster. I think I just had to work on my quickness and my strength, but I needed to do that anyway. I am quick, but I know I can have faster feet. I really like playing the puck. That's definitely one of my strengths.

"I want to get better at controlling rebounds and tracking shots from the blueline. I'm a tall goalie and I don't want to say that my biggest strength is my height, but I do use it as much as I can. I think I'm an athletic guy doing the splits and everything and just trying to be in all the right spots at the right time to help the team as much as I can."

Tweet from @spokanechiefs: Real quick, can we also appreciate this Lukas Parik save?Please & thank you.#GoChiefsGo pic.twitter.com/zYR3JPdUnt

And, as much as Parik loves the fans in Spokane and appreciates all their support so far this season, he says his dad is still his biggest fan.

"He wakes up at 3am just to watch my games online and I'm like, 'Dad I really appreciate that, but you can watch the replay when you get up at a normal hour,'" he explained. "But he likes to watch them live. My parents are just so supportive and after every game I get a text message from them. It's really nice."

Now that he's been named to the Czech national junior team and will participate in the world junior championship, he's excited to be back in his home country to enjoy the experience with his family.

"It's an absolute honor for me to be here and be on this team," he said. "I probably won't play a lot because Lukas Dostal is an unbelievable goalie and will be our starter. I wish him all the best because he deserves it. But, even just being in practice for me is a great opportunity to learn. These are all the best players and they have really great shots and it will help me get better. If they need me, I'll be ready."

Instagram from @iihfhockey: Some of the members of @narodnitym are at tonight's #WorldJuniors game between @deb_teams and @usahockey. So is Lukas Parik a spy? @spokanechiefs

So while Parik will soak in the atmosphere of sold out crowds in Ostravar Arena and make the most of this experience to cap off an eventful six months, he knows that this is just the beginning for him.

"All of this had been really great, but I know it's nothing because I still have a lot of work to do," he said. "I'm excited to go back to Spokane because we have a really good team. We are fourth in the western conference and I know we can make the playoffs and even the finals. I am also able to play on this team next year and hopefully be the starter."

"And, in the end I want to play in the NHL and have a long career. So, this is just the start for me. There's a long road in front of me and I need to push myself really hard to get there, but I am going to do my best. That is my dream."

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