Photo credit: Garrett James Photography
Merritt Centennials forward Daniel Tkac has made Team Slovakia’s final roster for the 2020 World Junior Championships.
The 19-year-old, who was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., but is a dual American-Slovakian citizen, was invited to camp earlier this month and was just named to the finalized roster today.
“Every kid growing up wants to make that tournament,” said Tkac upon his invitation to camp. “It’s the biggest tournament in junior hockey. When you get that chance, you want to make it happen.”
This year’s World Junior tournament takes place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Ostrava and Třinec in the Czech Republic, right near the Slovakian border, which means Slovakia should have plenty of support all tournament long.
“I think there will be a lot of fans there,” said Tkac. “It would be amazing to play in that kind of atmosphere.
“I’ll be really excited.”
Although he was born in the U.S., Tkac and his family moved back to Slovakia seven years ago and that’s the country he currently calls home. He played a lot of his youth hockey in Slovakia, but decided to come back to North America to further his hockey career, specifically to Merritt to play for the Centennials.
Last year, he had 14 points in 46 regular-season games, but so far this year he’s the team’s third-leading scorer with 23 points in 29 contests.
Slovakia is in Group A of the World Juniors along with Finland, Kazakhstan, Sweden and Switzerland.
Tkac and the rest of his teammates open the tournament Dec. 27 against Kazakhstan.