Inside the Den: Jasko traveled thousands of miles to pursue hockey career

National Sports

Bismarck Bobcats forward Niki Jasko is thousands of miles away from home. Jasko arrived on the team from Bratislava, Slovakia. So as you can imagine he loves hockey, but has also made adjustments to his new home.

“I think it’s going pretty well,” Jasko said. “It was a rough start, but I think it’s going pretty well right now.”

The 19-year-old caught the eyes of scouts during the world junior championships.

The Bobcats reached out to Niki and he accepted their offer.

But playing in the United States did not come easy.

“Don’t think I was playing well at the start,” Jasko said. “I had to adjust to the new playing system and everything’s pretty good now.”

Niki thinks he got off to rough start because he had to adjust to how Americans play hockey.

“For sure it’s more physical,” Jasko said. “It’s also faster than the European style of hockey. Here they want to possess the puck more and go more to the net.”

Like the rest of the Bobcats, Niki is here to further his hockey career.

“The United States is the only country with something like the NCAA,” Jasko said.

Niki had the chance to play in a start up league closer to home called: the European University Hockey League.

“It’s good hockey,” Jasko said, “but it’s usually the end of the careers for the players that play there. They just kind of extend their careers.”

And as he continues the pursuit of his dream, he is also still a student.

“I have to graduate,” Jasko said. “I have my finals coming up even in the middle of the season. It’s pretty tough to prepare on my own.”

This weekend, Niki and the Bobcats travel to the Minnesota Wilderness.

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