Thursday, 2 October 2014

Sparta's new player Canadian Zack Torquato

Prague Daily Monitor |
21 August 2014

In the summer came to Sparta forward ZACK TORQUATO. 25-year-old Canadian played in the same team with Steven Stamkos, he played OHL All-Star Game and Detroit Red Wings picked him in the Draft in 2007.

Zack, how did you discover Sparta? Why have you chosen going to Europe?
I discovered Sparta through my agent Jiri Poner. I want to continue my hockey career at a competitive level so I figured going to Europe was the best decision for me.

Czech fans don ́t know you. Could you introduce yourself to Sparta ́s fans?
The fans can expect a play making forward who plays hard at both the offensive and defensive side of the game and takes pride in a team first mentality.

Had you known anything about Czech hockey before you accepted Sparta ́s offer?
I was not very familiar with Czech hockey before I signed with Sparta. I have heard great things about the league and players. I have played with some Czech players in north America and always enjoyed them as teammates.

Hockey in Canada is very popular. Sparta has very big tradition in all Europe. Did it play a role in your decision?
Since signing with Sparta I have heard from many people about its great hockey tradition. Jiri spoke very highly of the organization and city so that definitely made the decision easy for me to sign with Sparta.

Are you looking forward to a new challenge?
I have always enjoyed playing in a hockey team and throughout the season consider them as family. I am excited to meet my teammates and hope to learn the Czech language throughout the year.

Moving on to your career now. You were born in Sault St. Marie in Ontario. Many famous hockey players were born in thi city (eg Phil and Tony Esposito ́s, Ron Francis, Marty Turco). Ice-hockey is in this city very popular, is not it?
Growing up in Sault Ste Marie hockey is the most popular sport. We skated on backyard rinks along

with playing in organized leagues. As a child we would watch the Soo Greyhounds who had many players move onto the NHL.

Who was your the biggest idol?
My biggest idol is Ron Francis. He never received a lot of credit playing with stars such as Jagr and Lemieux but he was a great two way player and showed leadership throughout his career.

You have played OHL in Saginaw Spirit and Erie Otters. I haven’t seen if those were successful seasons or not?
I would kind of liked to win an OHL Championship during my career in Erie but it was a great experience. It helped me mature as a player on and off the ice and get me ready for professional hockey.

In OHL you had started your way to AHL. Where is the biggest difference between OHL and AHL?
I played in my first AHL game when I was 18 years old. It was a big adjustment from the OHL with players older and stronger.

In 2007 you played on IIHF Championship under 18 years, where you played with Steve Stamkos, Kyle Turris or Logan Coutoure. How do you remember this championship in Finland?
Playing in Team Canada was a memorable experience and I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to represent my country.

Steve Stamkos became a big star of NHL. Was his talent aware already on tournament in Finland?
Steven Stamkos was an underage player on our team and was our leader on the ice. At that age you could already tell he was destined to become a star in the NHL.

After this tournament Detroit has choosen you on draft. But you have never played for Red Wings, what was missing to make it?
In 2007 I was selected by the Detroit Red Wings. It was an honour to be chosen by such a respected organization. I had an opportunity with Grand Rapids and learned a lot about what it takes to play professional hockey.

Czech defenseman Jakub Kindl was your teammate in Grand Rapids. Do you remember him?
In Grand Rapids I remember playing with Jakub Kindl and against him in the OHL. Jakub is a great defenseman, very fast and smart. He is also a great person and teammate.

The last three seasons you played in Wheeling Nailers. Were you happy there?
I was happy and learned a lot the last 3 years in Wheeling and Wilkes Barre. I am excited to start the season with Sparta and continue to learn and become a better person and hockey player. I look forward to meeting the Sparta organization, teammates and fans.