(Photo: Scott Butner/Tri-City Americans)
*This was originally posted April 12, 2022*
You often hear goaltenders talk about how once they put on the pads, they never wanted to take them off again. Many talk about how something just clicked for them in the net and they knew that was where they wanted to play.
However, Tri-City Americans goaltender Tomáš Suchánek has said that when he was younger, he never wanted to be a goalie. He says that he was a really good forward as a kid, and that was the position he had wanted to stick with. Unfortunately for him (but luckily for all of us), his youth coach had other plans.
“I always loved to score goals, but my coach one time put me in the net and I was really good. So he told me that I cannot be forward anymore.”
The now 18-year-old had tried convincing his parents to let him get back to being a skater he was younger.
“I wanted to [switch back to forward] so bad when I was 12 or 11,” says Suchánek. “I remember I was trying to convince my parents every day that I want to be a forward again.”
For the record, he does love being in net now.
“Sometimes, I just shoot. I’m trying to get better, but I just cannot switch now. I’m just trying to be a better and better goalie right now.”
On the most NHL Central Scouting’s North American Goalies Mid-Term Rankings, Suchánek was listed at number 13 so it looks like his coach and parents knew what they were doing keeping him in the blue paint.
Suchánek’s older brother was the first to go into the sport which makes sense as Tomáš is five years younger.
“My parents tried to put him in the sport. He was the first one who tried hockey but he never liked team sports or something like that. So he quit, but after that, they try to put me [in hockey], and I really liked it. I enjoyed the time there. So they were putting me there every week and that is how I started my hockey career.”
A hockey career that has seen him represent Czechia at multiple international events and that has found him in Washington, playing for the Tri-City Americans. Suchánek is in the midst of his first season in the WHL. It also happens to be his first season playing in North America. Despite the changes in the size of the ice between international and North American hockey, Suchánek has been happy with how he’s transitioned his style of play to adapt to a faster game.
“It’s awesome. I was surprised that it was really good because I was a little bit scared because the ice is a little bit smaller here than in Europe. So I was a little bit scared about how I was gonna get used to that. But, the first practices and everything were really good. I, really fast, got used to it and it was really good.”
While he was surprised with his comfort level, Suchánek mentioned that the changes in the game itself were not surprising because he had some experience playing in the smaller rinks before.
As for what his strengths are as a goaltender, there were two that Suchánek mentioned very quickly.
“I would say that it is always reading the game,” he noted first. “I am always good to read the games and the situation.
Of course, he still takes pride in something he still holds on to from his time as a forward: “I would say the second best thing is my skating. Because I know I’m a good skater. So I can be everywhere in time.”
Skating is a skill that Tri-City’s other goaltender Nick Avakyan has mentioned Suchánek is working with him on improving.
“When I feel like something where I can get him better,” says Suchánek, “I always tell him. I think it’s always nice when you have someone who can always help you. So it’s always good to have someone”
Don’t worry, though. It’s not a one-way street between the two. The pair work together to improve each other’s game wherever they can.
“Sometimes he tells me too, where I have to get better. We’re helping each other. I think it’s really good.”
Both Suchánek and Avakyan are eligible to return to the Americans roster next season and it’s very possible they will be the tandem to watch in the US Division.
According to Suchánek, on gamedays, the Americans often hold a morning skate at 10 AM. So what does a typical game day look like for him?
“I wake up at 8 or 8:30. Eat breakfast which is always two toast with peanut butter and strawberries. Then I just go to the rink on the ice. After, it’s always going with the boys to Graze to take a sandwich and caesar salad. Then just get home and rest a little bit and prepare for the game and then just try to win the game.”
Yep, simple as that.
But, when he says “rest” does that mean he is on team pre-game nap?
“Oh yeah. I never was like that, but two or three years ago I tried to have a nap before the game and it has helped me a lot. Now I have to have always like 25/30 minutes before every game.”
So, yes to the pre-game nap, but what about the pre-game coffee?
“No, I hate coffee. If I’m being honest, I had only one time in my life, coffee. It was really bad because I have to go every five minutes on a toilet so I’m never gonna drink coffee. I can’t drink coffee. It’s not for me.”
That’s probably a better life decision.
What’s the go-to pre-game meal?
“At home, it’s always rice and chicken and if you’re on a trip it’s always pasta with chicken.”
While he did already mention Graze as the place to go after gameday practice, what’s the go-to on any other day?
“It depends. It’s always wherever you want to go with the boys after the practice, but most of the time it’s [Costa Vida] because everyone in our room loves Costa so it’s always a burrito.”
What’s Suchánek’s order from Costa?
“I’m getting a burrito every time because I really like it, but when we’ve been in a Chipotle I [got] a bowl and it was really good too.”
What is better, Costa or Chiptole?
“Costa for sure.”
(I have to agree.)
FUN STUFF WITH TOMMY
Nickname from the team:
“It’s Tommy or Tommy Boy.”
That being said, we had to talk about name pronunciation (It’s the same as San Jose Sharks forward Tomáš Hertl)
“Yeah, like in Czech it’s my name is normally TOE-maash. But I think for everyone here is hard to say. So they just call me Tommy or Tommy Boy, but our head coach, Stu Barnes, learned to say Tomáš so he sometimes calls me Tomashi. It’s fun.”
(I’m going with Tomashi from here on out… Sorry I didn’t tell you, Tomáš)
Best memory of the season:
“I would say it was really recent, but I got a shutout against Spokane at home. It was really great moment because it was, I think 5000 people at the rink for the game, and I [got a] shutout so it was I think the best memory from this season.”
His mindset as the shutout got closer to being official:
“The worst thing was that like 11 minutes before the game ended, I started getting cramps to my hands and everywhere. So in that moment, I wasn’t really thinking about something. I was just so tired and just really getting cramps everywhere. I just remember that Stu asked me, seven minutes left I think, saying he wanted me to pull out and I just said no. I have to stay there because I still have a chance to have a shutout. I didn’t want to go out. So the last ten minutes and I was just playing with the cramps. I wasn’t really thinking about anything. I was just hoping to end the game.”
Suchánek credits his teammates for helping keep the shutout alive:
“They saw me, that I was struggling the last ten minutes so they were working even harder. So it was very awesome from them and a huge thanks to them for everything.”
How has Tomashi liked life in the Tri-Cities so far?
“Oh, it’s been really awesome. I can’t say a bad word. I really love it, right from the first day. Everyone was really nice to me and tried to get to know me. It was just really awesome. I enjoyed this season so much. I’m really happy to wake up every day and go to the rink and be with the guys so I enjoyed this even very much.”
As a rookie, which teammates showed him the ropes early in the season?
“When I first came, it was only a couple of guys here. The first two weeks, I spent most of the time with Marc Lajoie or Landon Roberts, because they were driving me home, so I spent a really long time with them the first two weeks. They showed me around, and with Connor Bouchard. So these three guys.”
Best locker room DJ:
“I’m gonna say me, but I’m not playing really often, so I have to say Carson Haynes because he’s playing most of the time music in the room.”
Suchánek’s assessment of Haynes’ playlist(s):
“He’s not bad. I like it. I like most of the songs. Some songs I really don’t like, but most of the songs I like so it’s good.”
Worst locker room DJ:
“I’m gonna say no one because I don’t want anyone to be mad at me. So I’m gonna say no one. Everyone has great music.”
Suchánek’s top-three artists:
“I’m gonna say Avicii, Drake, and Justin Bieber.”
Favorite Bieber song:
“When I was younger, I always listening to the song Love Yourself and stuff like that. it was awesome. Right now his new songs are really good too. But I don’t know which ones should I pick for the best.”
Where he’s improved the most since joining the Ams:
“I would say I learned more English. I can say that. The thing that I improved most, like to speak better and understand most of the things so I would say English.”
(10/10 from me!)
Suchánek did share that he taught the boys some Czech but that the words are best saved for on the ice.
What a perfect day off looks like:
“I like to relax because I’m always like tired from the games and everything. So I love to just sleep more and be in my bed. Then, when it’s nice and sunny to go and golf with the friends. Sometimes we do other stuff. It really depends how’s the weather outside and everything but most of the times, just like getting to relax and getting ready for another day to work out.”
Has he gotten to golf much with the guys this season?
“A few times. I can honestly say that I’m not really good because I have never been [golfing] in Czech before. I just started like on the start of the season I went on a range with a few guys. I really like it so yeah, I’m really big beginner.”
“On a pizza I will put red sauce, cheese, ham, some vegetables, like corn or something. It will be good. Chicken. More cheese. I will say that’s it. Maybe even more cheese.”
(I really want to try corn on pizza now and am determined to find a place that will do it for me.)
Pineapple on pizza, yes or no?
“I guess I’m a bit weird I really like pineapple on the pizza.”
Does he play video games like Avakyan?
“Not really. I don’t really like video games.”
What does he do instead?
“I’m just watching YouTube when home. Watching cryptocurrency and stuff like that.”
“I am watching videos about it and trying to learn more because I really like it. I’m really a huge fan of that. So I’m just trying every day to get to know something I didn’t know before and just learning about that.”
(Yes, I went on to ask some questions because I know nothing.)
FOR THE FANS
“I would say like thank you very much for the support because the support we get here, it’s huge. I never like experienced something like that, to have this like fan base and everything. It’s really awesome. So thank you very much for supporting us and in every game for cheering us. I would say honestly that this is one of the loudest rinks here in the WHL. So just thank you very much for your support and we hope we are going to have better results for you.”