There were times, too many times in fact, during the season opener last Friday when Petr Mrazek may have felt as if he didn’t have a friend on the ice, at least not one in an Ottawa 67’s jersey.
Fresh off an impressive showing at the Detroit Red Wings’ National Hockey League rookie camp, Mrazek never envisioned being left on his own most of the night to surrender six goals despite making many fine saves.
So Mrazek went out this week and “recruited” his best friend to help shore up the 67’s defence.
Mrazek and Adam Sedlak were almost inseparable from the time they started playing hockey at age 4 in the Czech Republic right up to junior with Vitkovice three seasons ago, and they are together again after the 67’s claimed Sedlak off waivers from the Peterborough Petes.
The 67’s hope Sedlak’s experience will buy them some time while rookie defencemen Ryan Shipley and Taylor Fielding get up to Ontario Hockey League speed, and he will be in the lineup for Friday night’s home opener against the Oshawa Generals.
Sedlak had 12 goals and 45 points in 110 games with the Petes during the past two seasons and attended Ottawa Senators rookie camp this fall.
However, with each major-junior hockey team limited to two imports, Sedlak was let go when the Petes acquired Swede Kalle Ekelund from the London Knights.
Right after he left the office of Petes general manager Dave Reid, Sedlak communicated the news to Mrazek on Skype, and Mrazek was soon in the office of 67’s coach Chris Byrne.
“I told Byrnie right away, and he said our agents had already called him like two minutes before,” Mrazek said. “I’ve known Seddy 14 years. We started skating at four years old.
“We spend all summer together practising. He’s my best friend in the Czech Republic.
“One day he’s playing the power play in Peterborough, and killing penalties, and the next day they called him in and said he was finished there. He called me and he was really mad.”
Sometimes things have a way of working out for the best, and the Senators did think enough of Sedlak to give the 67’s a good review on his work at rookie camp.
Other than Mrazek and Sedlak, next happiest are the family members in the Czech Republic who used to drive to minor hockey games together.
“I had to wait until noon Monday to see where I was going,” Sedlak said. “So many teams called, but the biggest problem was I am a European import and not every team has room.
“So, when the phone rang and it was Ottawa, I turned the car around and headed right back to my billets to pack my stuff and get a flight here as fast as I could.
“First of all, I have a team that wants me. Second, Petr is here to show me around. At least I know he’s not chirping me behind my back.
“I really want to be here and help Ottawa any way I can. I’m still upset at what happened in Peterborough, but I’m pretty excited to be where I am.”
Byrne has not yet decided how the 67’s defence will line up on Friday night.
His top pair will likely be Travis Gibbons, soon to be named team captain, and Marc Zanetti, with Cody Ceci playing with Sedlak.
However, that would leave Shipley and Fielding as the all-rookie third pairing, and that’s no way to break into the league.
The team is also expected to continue looking for another experienced defender.
The 67’s also have to move a goalie after acquiring Shayne Campbell from the Sarnia Sting for an eighth-round draft pick.
The club is attempting to move Chris Perugini, their well-liked and respected former No. 1 goalie, who deserves more playing time elsewhere.
Until that happens, Mrazek and Perugini will share starts, and Campbell will wait.
Campbell, who turns 18 in November, played 40 games and more than 2,100 minutes with the Sting last season and compiled an .871 save-percentage.
The 67’s will be without two wingers for the home opener.
Dalton Smith will miss the contest while completing his two-game suspension for his part in a fight during the game at Sault Ste. Marie.
Jon Carnevale will sit the first of his two-game suspension for being the third man in a fight where he bailed out Robert Farmer, the British forward whose release on Monday created the roster opening for Sedlak. Farmer is free to shop himself around. If he can’t find a new OHL team, the 67’s will pay for his flight home.
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