1. Etusivu
  2. Interview
  3. Dominik Mašín – from near the Chinese border to Tampere

Dominik Mašín – from near the Chinese border to Tampere

Interview : Henri Honkala, Translation : Siru Takala

Dominik Mašín, who recently changed teams from Amur Khabarovsk to Ilves Tampere, moved to live on his own as a 14-year-old because of hockey, has played on three continents, and served as a captain in a team full of superstars. At the dawn of a new era, he describes how his new contract came to be and talks about his career.

– [The process of making the contract] was quite simple. I told my agent to see some options because I wasn’t really happy in Khabarovsk. Ilves was interested in me, and I know the Finnish league is a pretty good league. Everybody who played here, that I know, liked it here.

There were other options on the table, but from the start Ilves seemed like the right environment and the place to play.

– I talked to Marek Langhamer, who plays here, and Timo (Koskela) also. Marek told me good things about the team, and he said that the city and the people are really nice here, so it was easy to accept the offer. I really wanted to come here.

The journey begins in Czechia and continues in North America

Dominik Mašín was born in February 1996 in Mestec Kralove, a small town of 3,000 people 80 kilometers east from Czechia’s capital Prague. The little boy’s first contact with the sport named hockey happened in a typical way: his parents taking him skating for the first time. According to the defenseman, he fell for the sport right then, and it became his number one sport.

– I also played soccer sometimes, but only when I had some time off.

His parents also had a big influence on his career when Mašín started playing for his first club, SC Kolín.

– My friend who lived next to me played in the same team. His parents and my parents took turns taking us to practice every day, and his dad coached us. Afterwards I moved to Slavia Praha.

Mašín became nationally known through playing in Slavia Praha’s junior teams and Czechia’s national junior teams. The Tampa Bay Lightning selected him in the second round as the 35th player in the NHL Draft of 2014.

After the draft, Mašín traveled to Ontario, Canada, and joined the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. A new country and new customs certainly brought about a big change in the young man’s life but having already lived alone in Prague as a 14-year-old, the change was rather a huge opportunity for Mašín.

– [Moving to Ontario] went pretty great. I was drafted by then, I got a chance to play, and I played well. I got really good friends that taught me English. I was used to living by myself in Prague, so it wasn’t that big of a change. Only the language was.

U20 Championship tournament and the years in the AHL

Many Finns surely remember the U20 World Championship tournament that was held in Finland in 2016. It was already then regarded as a high-quality tournament, and if you look at the team rosters in retrospect, you will find multiple players with a superstar status. In the Czech roster, you’ll also find Dominik Mašín, who served as a captain in the tournament. That very same team also included David Pastrnak and Filip Hronek, who are now having great careers in North America.

The Czech team did not succeed in the competition, but Mašín remembers playing in Finland warmly. He had found success two years ago already.

– We had a great team back then. I had captained the U18 team in a tournament that was in Finland in 2014. We got the silver medal then, and I liked playing in Finland. The same guys continued with the team, and it was good being the captain of that [U20] team. We had a good group that played well together.

Mašín changed clubs to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch that is the affiliate team of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In Syracuse he played for five seasons, playing slightly over 300 games and scoring a pretty good number of points for a defenseman. However, he did not get a call to go up and play in the big leagues.

– It was really tough. I had a really good second year; I scored ten goals and finished second in the league in plus-minus. But Tampa had a strong team with eight defensemen, and they were going for the Stanley Cup, so there wasn’t much of a chance to get the call to go up.

The hockey league of Eastern Europe and 80,000 kilometers

KHL, the hockey league of Eastern Europe, is known as a harsh, high-quality league, where players might travel up to 80,000 kilometers between cities in a season. In this regard Khabarovsk, located near the Chinese border in the Russian Far East, and the city’s hockey pride Amur Khabarovsk are not the easiest of places to live and play in.

Dominik Mašín went to Amur for the 2020–2021 season. The team is not one of the league’s top teams, but it was fighting for the last spots in the playoffs. Regardless, he saw the next opportunity awaiting him in the organization.

– I wasn’t used to traveling so much, such as flying 12 hours to Moscow and the same amount back. Jet lag was hard to deal with. However, I think my first year there was pretty good. I scored some points and got good opportunities.

The everyday life is sometimes brutal in the world’s second-best league. Success and points mostly determine your fate, and, in the end, only winning matters. Last season Amur did not make the playoffs despite a great start to the season. Mašín played well, recording 11 points in 32 games.

The team’s start to the current season was weak, and Mašín did not reach his best on a personal level, either. Ice time started dwindling, and so the Czech started to eye other alternatives.

– Being in the plane, then a short practice, and then the game. They say you improve by playing but sometimes the games are hard when you’re tired because of the traveling. I think I improved a little bit, but I was improving more in the US, because there they are more invested in development, just like here [in Ilves]. I want to improve myself even more here.

A new era in Ilves

Let’s come back to the present day. Dominik Mašín has now spent a few days in Finland and practiced multiple times with the team. The left-shot defenseman seems to enjoy the new environment. From Czechia to Canada, from there to the States, then from near the Chinese border to Tampere and Ilves. The relatively young, 25-year-old Mašín has seen the world and experienced a lot.

A certain kind of experience does emanate from the defenseman as he’s answering questions tranquilly and in good English. But how is Dominik Mašín as a player?

– I’m a two-way player. I am good defensively, and I want to support the forwards on the offense.

Mašín also plays well on the powerplay, has a good shot, and wants to contribute in the offensive end, but won’t make it happen at the cost of the defense. On a personal level, he wants to improve his playing and make progress, which is his aim for this season. As for the team’s most important goal, we will have to wait for it to happen in the spring.

– I want to get better and play well. I want to help the team, so that the coaches and players are happy with me. With the team, I want to go as far as we can and win the cup, of course!

Ilveksen voittoputki katkesi Nordiksella
Ilves-pelaajia maajoukkueisiin – Jarkko Parikka ja Karjala-turnaukseen