Martin Gernat hasn’t skipped a beat coming back from shoulder surgery as he continued his scoring pace with three goals and 13 points in 23 games.
The 2011-12 Oil Kings rookie of the year was sidelined for the first five months this season as he was back at home in Slovakia rehabbing his shoulder. Gernat was injured in the 2012 Under 20 World Juniors Championships in Calgary last year and played through the pain the before opting for surgery in September.
“When I came here after surgery, I had a long process to get into the game so now I’m feeling more comfortable and much better playing with the boys. I missed almost 50 games so now it’s a real good time for me and I’m enjoying every moment on the ice with the boys and I want to play my best.”
Gernat spent more than half the season off-ice rehabbing and said he needs to spend more time improving his skills and working out.
“I have to work on my d zone because I lost a lot of muscle after surgery. I’m still working out in the gym and I want to be stronger in the corners and help and support the defensive zone for the boys.”
The 6’5” Slovakian defenceman was drafted the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in the fifth round, 122nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers.
In his first season playing in the Western Hockey League with the Edmonton Oil Kings in 2011-12, Gernat finished strong with nine goals and 55 points in 60 games and led the team in plus minus with a plus-41 rating. The Oil Kings advanced to the post-season where he continued his strong play and in 20 games, he had seven goals and 13 points to help the team win their first ever Ed Chynoweth Cup and a trip to the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup championship, before losing in a tie-breaker game to Shawinigan Cataractes.
“It was an amazing season, I thought we did a really good job there. We had a really good team, a lot of good guys like, Mark Pysyk, Tyler Maxwell and Rhett Rachinski so hopefully this year, it’ll be the same year and hopefully this year, we’ll end up at the Memorial Cup again.”
This year, the Oil Kings defeated the Kootenay Ice in five-games to advance to the second round of the WHL Eastern Conference Semi-Final. Over the 72-game season, the Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers met six times with the Oil Kings winning the series, five games to one but Gernat said the regular season wins doesn’t matter now.
“Every game will be different and now we’ll start from nothing, so we have to make sure we start tomorrow great and hard. I think it’s important, we want to make the first step for us and we have to go step-by-step. We have a really good team but the next step will definitely be important for us.”