Story courtesy of Gordon Weigers @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com
Setting goals can be easy. Working hard and waiting patiently to achieve them isn’t always so simple.
Just ask goalie Jiri Patera.
The 2017 sixth round draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights recently entered his second development camp presented by City National Bank after completing his first season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League.
The Praha, Czech Republic, native always wanted to play junior hockey in Canada to get himself ready to play in the NHL one day. His standout performance in the USHL in the 2017-18 season caught the eyes of the Brandon Wheat Kings who selected him in the second round of the CHL Import Draft.
“I think it’s the best junior hockey league in the world,” Patera said. “I’m so glad the Brandon Wheat Kings drafted me, it’s awesome.”
Transitioning to the CHL from the USHL is a challenge Patera said he’s ready to face. The style of play between the leagues is very different, and the motives of the players aren’t always the same. Many players in the USHL hope to stand out to land a Division-I hockey scholarship or to take the step to Canadian junior hockey. Patera set his mind to making it to the CHL, and his .901 save percentage is 34 games last season showed his ability to adapt to a new system quickly.
“I need to improve some things to get a lot better,” Patera said. “The USHL is very different than the CHL.”
Of course, going to an NHL team’s development camp presents players with opportunities to improve their game through training from NHL coaches. While players like Patera take many different snippets of advice that they’ve accrued over their young careers into account as they play and think the game, the coaching given from NHL staff stands out most of all as their development continues.
Patera said he’s excited to work with Brandon Wheat Kings goalie coach Tyler Plante and receive instruction at the level of junior hockey that he’s always aspired to reach. He’ll also have the advantage of studying under Golden Knights goalie coach Dave Prior.
“He’s critical, but he needs to be,” Patera said. “He expects the best and he knows what he’s teaching, that’s why he’s one of the best goalie coaches in the league.”
Taking what he’s learned in Cedar Rapids and at Golden Knights development camp, Patera’s foundation as a sound, quick-thinking goaltender is strong, and playing in Brandon will only upgrade his growth in net. As Patera knows well, it takes hard work and patience to achieve one’s goals, and he’s proven that he can bide his time with the best of them.