By: Julie Robenhymer
Photo: New Jersey Devils
As 19-year-old Marian Studenic prepares for his first professional season, he says everything is different, but everything is the same. And, no, that was not lost in translation for the Slovakian native.
“I know this is going to be a different kind of season for me. I won’t have a billet family. Coaches will want more from me. I will play more games. The competition will be a lot tougher against bigger, older, stronger men,” he explained. “But, I’m trying to prepare in the same way. Every year, I want to get better and get faster and get stronger. That is the same this year because it shouldn’t matter where you play, you should always be working hard and not worry about what may happen in the future. Just keep working hard to be prepared for an opportunity and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Studenic, who was drafted by the Devils in the fifth round in 2017 and signed an entry level contract in April, got a late start to his summer of training because his junior team, the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL, won the league championship. He said being on that team helped him learn how to win.
“That was the first time I was a part of a winning team,” he explained. “It was good to know for sure what you need to do and what you need to sacrifice to have a successful end to your season and be good in the playoffs. Everyone has to pitch in. It doesn’t matter who is the points leader. In the playoffs, anything can happen and everyone needs to be willing to contribute in all ways. Our points leader was blocking shots and getting hit and I just learned what it meant to play for each other and give everything we have. I think that’s why we won.
“The Soo were the big favorites,” he said of the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds, who won the regular season by a whopping 19 points. “But, we played more like a team and when you play for each other you can beat any team, even if they’re more talented.”
He took a couple weeks away from hockey after losing in the Memorial Cup to recharge his batteries, but got back to work in the weight room by the middle of June.
“The first part of my summer was about getting stronger,” said the 6-foot-1, 165 pound winger. “I need my whole body to get stronger because I’m not a big guy and could use it all over, but I’m focusing more on upper body because I think it’s a weakness of mine, especially now that I’m going to be a professional. I need to be able to protect the puck more and get positioning in tight areas and will need to be strong in my arms and shoulders so I don’t get pushed off the puck and can fight for it better and be a little bit more physical. The second half of the summer is more about conditioning.”
Training just outside his hometown of Holic, he’s enjoying the opportunity to spend time with his family before returning to North America for rookie camp.
“It’s like a dream – being able to sleep in your own bed and have your mother make breakfast – it’s really nice,” said Studenic who will turn 20 at the end of October. “I was missing it during the season the past two years, so I’m enjoying it as much as I can while I can, but I’m also doing a lot of work.
“It’s not like I have all day to hang out with them,” he continued. “I wake up and have breakfast, practice for two hours in the gym, go home, have lunch, maybe take a nap and then I go back for another workout on the track or on the ice, sometimes I practice with the local mens team just to have other people to play with and, after that, I have time to see my friends and family.”
In his second development camp with the New Jersey Devils this past July, Studenic won the hotly contested points competition which rewarded players for strong performances during physical testing and on the ice during the 3-on-3 tournament and the Red & White Scrimmage, as well as team bonding activities like ping pong, golf, go-karting and the top-secret talent show.
“To be honest, I have no idea how I won,” he said with a shy smile. “I just tried to do my best in every competition. There were some that I was pretty bad at like the golfing and the ping pong, so I was really surprised that I won, but I’m really happy. I got out of my comfort zone in the talent show, that was the biggest challenge for me. I was a little scared before we did it, but we won that so that was good too. Maybe that’s what pushed me over the top. I have no idea.”
The top point getters were able to pick prizes that included Devils apparel, various training tools and even a couple golf clubs. As the winner, Marian got first pick and chose a grill kit.
“I got it for my dad,” he explained. “He likes to barbecue so I will bring it home for him as a present.”
It might be a good time to note that players were also secretly awarded points for being quality human beings – thoughtful, generous, and courteous – and good teammates because, as an organization, the Devils want tremendous hockey players on the ice and tremendous people in their locker room.
As Studenic prepares for his first season as a professional hockey player, he’s hoping to show management and the coaching staff that he fits all the criteria both on and off the ice and has spent his summer preparing for the opportunity to do just that.
“I want to show them that I’m really good at using my speed, but that I’m more than just fast. I am a good thinker and have skill and I just want to show them what I can do,” he said. “I have prepared hard and will be calm and confident in what I can do and I will just go out there and enjoy it and play my game and see what’s going to happen. All I can do is give my best. The rest is not up to me.”
The Devils will open up the 2018-19 season at home on Saturday, October 6 at 7:05 p.m. against the Toronto Marlies.
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