isn’t messing around.
After working out this week at BankAtlantic Center with Panthers strength and conditioning coach Andy O’Brien, the Panthers promising right winger sat in the player’s lounge laying out his summer plans.
Vacations? Travel? Perhaps a little time on the beach?
“I’ve hired a trainer in Prague,” said the Czech Republic native. “He works with a couple NHL guys and European players. I’m going to rent a place (in Prague) and work out with them. Every single day.
“I want to push myself, get stronger and faster, and then come back here and be ready and show the coaches and everybody I can play on this team.”
Repik is one of several Panther youngsters who are expected to push for a roster spot next fall when the Panthers open training camp in September. A second-round draft pick (40th overall) in 2007, Repik led the Panthers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Rochester in points (49), power play goals (nine) and shots (189). He was second on the team in goals (19).
Repik’s first professional season was memorable not only because of the numbers he put up in Rochester, but because of the five games he played with the Panthers.
With the Panthers lacking skilled forwards due to injury during a December trek through Canada, the 5-10 Repik got the call and scored in his first NHL game Dec. 8 in Ottawa. Sent back to Rochester after four games, Repik was called up again March 12 for a game in nearby Buffalo and scored his second NHL goal.
“When I got the call, I was a little shocked,” Repik recalled. “It’s always been my dream to play in the NHL. But when they called me up and I scored my first goal…that was a whole other thing. I couldn’t believe it.”
In fact, Repik’s first professional season was a memorable season filled with a number of highs and lows. Coming to Rochester after three seasons in junior hockey in Vancouver, Repik started the season slowly.
“It’s probably what happens to a lot of young guys moving from junior to pro,” Repik said. “You have to get used to a different lifestyle and living on your own.”
His slow start wasn’t helped by the fact that Rochester got off to a 3-18-0-2 start.
“We had a rough start,” said Repik of the Amerks, who went 26-25-0-6 over their final 57 games. “It’s hard when you know you’re not making the playoffs and fighting for nothing at the end.”
Repik, who was playing on the first line due to injuries just weeks into the season, admits he put “high expectations on myself.” But when things didn’t start well? “I wanted to do so well I was maybe pressing a little bit,” he said.
But with more ice time playing on the first line, Repik’s confidence grew as did his offensive numbers. And it didn’t hurt he scored during his first call-up with the Panthers.
“Actually, that was funny,” he recalled. “Before I was called up I was playing very good hockey down there. After (the Panthers) sent me back down, I got into a little slump for a couple days. We talked about it (Tuesday) in Rochester (in exit interviews). My games from December through February – that’s how I have to play every game. I have to focus on that in the summer. It’s what I have to bring every game.”
Rochester Americans coach Benoit Groulx recently told the Democrat and Chronicle that Repik is the “type of guy who can score 20 goals in any league.”
“He did it in junior and he will do it in the NHL,” he added.
But like Rochester teammates Keaton Ellerby
, Shawn Matthias
and Jason Garrison
– all trying to crack the Panthers lineup next season – Repik has to come to training camp fit and ready.
“Obviously, the summer will be huge for me, getting stronger and faster,” said Repik, leaning back now on a sofa in the player’s lounge. “But if I can improve, I can play at this level next year.”