By the time a player reaches the AHL or NHL, they have already achieved a lot in their careers and made plenty of memories along the way. Each week, we’ll sit down with one of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and talk about some of the memorable “firsts” they’ve had during their careers, ranging from their first time on skates to their first goal as a pro.
Player: Dominic Uher
Birthplace: Ostrava, Czech Rep.
Years pro: 2
First time on skates: “I was three years old and it was on a lake in the Czech Republic in winter. That’s where I learned how to skate. I don’t know if it came easy, but my skates - each one had two edges so it was easier.”
First team: “My hometown team when I was 3-and-a-half. The first year or two you’re mostly learning how to skate. I played my first game when I was 5 years old.”
First coach that influenced you: “I had a coach for six years in the Czech Republic, who really taught me the basics - how to skate, shoot and pass. He got me onto a better Czech team where I developed more before I moved to North America.”
First goal that you remember: “I don’t remember many of the goals in the Czech Republic, but my first goal in Spokane (WHL) was memorable. We played Seattle and it was against Calvin Pickard. There was 10,000 people there and it was quite a moment. It took me like 17 games before I scored my first goal.”
First time you won anything in hockey: “When we got to the finals in midget back in Czech. We didn’t win it, but there were 22 teams in the league and we won our conference. I remember we had such a young team and even though we didn’t win it, it still felt like we were champions that year.”
First time hockey took you away from home: “I was 12. I moved 45 minutes away from my family and I lived in a hotel for three years and went to school. The team paid for it. I learned a lot and it made it easier for me to move to North America later. That was different because I wasn’t 45 minutes away from home and I was on the other side of the world. It was a different language and lifestyle, but you get used to it and start enjoying it.”
First pro contract: “It’s a huge thing for every hockey player. The amount of hard work I put in and the sacrifices, you really feel like you accomplished something big. I remember the day I signed with Pittsburgh and it’s a special day in my life.”
First time you faced adversity in your hockey career: “When I was 14, I was doing hockey and cycling. I was doing pretty well at cycling and struggling at hockey. I decided to do pro cycling instead of hockey and focused my summer workouts on cycling. After being without hockey for five months, I started missing it and I’m glad I got back into it. Now it’s my job and I’m here, so I’m happy about the decision I made.”
- Tom Venesky