SIOUX CITY | Martin Pospisil knows he leads the USHL in penalty minutes.
He says it happens mostly because he’s protecting his Sioux City Musketeer teammates. Musketeers Coach Luke Strand said he isn’t concerned about penalty minutes because it emulates the competitiveness of what he called Pospisil’s “double-edged sword” play.
When Pospisil is trying to avoid the roughing, checking from behind or whatever situation he gets himself into on the ice, the rookie 6-foot-2, 173-pound center from Zvolen, Slovakia, is also looking for scoring opportunities for his linemates and himself.
Pospisil has been one of the most productive scorers as of late for the 18-15-6 Musketeers. Heading into Friday night’s home game at the Tyson Events Center against Sioux Falls (22-11-8), he has scored in 10 of his last 12 games, providing four goals and 14 assists in that time.
Left wing Matyas Svoboda (3 goals, 4 assists) and right wing Bauer Neudecker (2, 7) have mostly benefited from Pospisil’s presence, but several other teammates have also taken advantage.
“I like playing with Bauer,” said Pospisil. “He plays smart. We are more aggressive in the neutral zone and in the offensive zone. He’s a skilled guy. I tell him before a game, let’s play even more smart. If he passes to me, I pass to him. He has a great shot.
“Matyas is a big guy who does a good job in the corners. He’s pretty good for our line. He has a great shot. He plays smart. With his big body, he can do big space for me and Bauer. That’s why we’ve scored so many goals these last few games.”
Sioux City has gone 7-2-3 since Pospisil’s spurt began. Actually, when the 6-2, 212-pound Svoboda (a native of Udlice, Czech Republic) joined in mid-January and scored in each of his first five games for a team that won four of those contests, the threesome became the latest of several lines which have clicked as of late.
“I think you have to give Matys some credit when he arrived, then you have Bauer and the three of them have some magic together,” said Strand. “They are very selfless to each other, yet they work hard. They create offense. They enjoy each other. You can see they’re working hard for each other.
“I like Martin’s ability to make plays and his vision to make plays,” he added. “He has so much puck poise. He can protect the puck. He can stay over the puck for a very long time. When you stay with the puck that long, they add numbers that defend him. He makes the play to the open man because someone else had to help the defender.”
Martin is playing just like his older brother Kristian, who had 15 goals and 25 assists for last year’s Musketeers squad that won the Anderson Cup and eventually reached the Clark Cup Finals. It took time to adjust to the North American game and smaller rink.
“It’s different (than Europe),” said Pospisil. “I needed a little more time. Here, they play more physical, more tough. In Europe, they play more skill because it’s a bigger rink. That’s one thing that’s different.”
Another similarity between the two siblings? A year ago, Kristian had three assists in his first 10 games (Martin had one assist in his first nine games) and later provided seven goals and five assists while scoring in 10 of 11 games from Dec. 29 to Feb. 10.
Martin’s current 12-game streak began January 6. He notched the first of his seven multiple-point games Dec. 16 with a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win over Central Illinois, the second win in a five-game winning streak that took the Musketeers out of last place in the Western Conference into sixth, where they’ve been since early January.
“The similarity for he and Kristian is the idea of adjusting to the league,” said Strand. “Part two, if you’ve noticed the last nine games, he has been on the ice more than in the (penalty) box. He plays crucial minutes and they’ve added. Right now, Martin plays against the other team’s top line. He’s playing 200 feet of hockey, so he’s not cheating for this offense. He’s earning all of the offense he is getting.”
Pospisil feels he’s the same kind of player as his brother in several instances. Incidentally, his older brother has nine goals and nine assists for the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears.
“He told me he likes their play,” said Pospisil. “I hope next season, he can play in AHL. He’s doing well.
“I play more offensive, more defensive. He plays more offensive. I play center, he plays wing. He has a really good shot. I think I have better skating.”