When he signed on with the Carolina Junior Hurricanes USPHL Premier squad before the start of the 2019-20 regular season, Jakub Viedemann was already checking off one of his lifelong hockey goals.
“I always wanted to try to play hockey in North America and my dream came true when a scout for the Junior Hurricanes team reached out to me early in 2019,” said Viedemann, a 20-year-old defenseman and native of Litvinov, Czech Republic, in an e-mail interview.
“At the time, I was finishing my high school course work and had no plans at the time for what to do after I graduated. The Jr. Hurricanes gave me such an amazing opportunity to play in the U.S. and I took it and don't regret it! It has been a total dream come true.”
It worked out well for the Canes too, as Viedemann anchored the defense and became a solid offensive contributor as well, leading the 2020-21 Jr. Canes in scoring with 39 points in 39 regular season games, and five more points in six playoff games - including at the National Championship Tournament, where the Jr. Canes reached the Premier semifinals.
He was rewarded recently for all these efforts when he committed to attend King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Despite the major differences in terms of language and size of ice-surface, Viedemann said he made a quick and easy transition when he came to Wake Forest and the chemistry was good.
“It took me some time to get used to smaller ice, but I think for my style of game it is better than European size rinks. At first playing on the smaller sheet of ice was very tough, everyone was suddenly so close to me and so fast, there wasn't much time to make the exact pass I wanted to. However, once you learn the game is closer and faster, you get used to it pretty quickly,” said Viedemann.
“My coaches and teammates really helped me get used to it in different ways. First, of all, I needed to feel comfortable in the locker room to perform well, which I did. We had such an amazing locker room, which helped with our chemistry on the ice.”
While the chemistry and transition worked out well, playing in the mighty Southeast Division is a struggle. A 24-17-2-1 record in 2020 was good enough only for fourth place in the five-team division and a quick playoff exit. This past season, however, the Canes charged back all the way to Nationals and the league’s final four.
“First season wasn't successful in my opinion,” said Viedemann. “[Our] key goal was to get to Nationals and win it,” said Viedemann.“The Southeast Division is strong every year, probably the strongest, but that is not an excuse. It is great to compete against good teams every week, but it is even better to beat them. Unfortunately, we didn't beat them in the most important weekend in the season and that was very disappointing for us. But at the end, I was proud of my teammates, because we worked hard, and we worked even harder the next year to make it to Nationals.”
Viedemann and the other returning Canes returned for the 2020-21 season with a clear mission.
“The second season was more successful from my point of view as well as the team's view. The team changed from my first season a lot. Not only the roster, but the entire organization. We moved from an older rink in Wake Forest to the new Wake Competition Center in Morrisville which was a huge step forward for the organization. We basically had everything that we needed there, and it was a big reason why we did well past season.”
Stability in the lineup from year to year was a big help as well.
“A bunch of our teammates from my first year left the team to go to college, but many other guys came to try and win the title. I think our second season was more successful because we had every piece of what was needed to be successful. We had skilled guys, we had fast guys, we had tough guys, but we also had kids who could be all of that. Also, our goalies were a year older and worked hard with their goalie coach to improve.”
Viedemann jumped right out to the forefront of his team on both sides of the ice, starting with seven points in his first seven games - a pace he kept up from September through March.
“My numbers were higher, but I don't think I changed my game much. I obviously tried to help my teammates offensively as much as I could, but I also tried to stay responsible defensively. I think our Power Play unit was really strong and I was just lucky I could have been part of it.”
Despite a solid showing, there is only total satisfaction for one team each season, said Viedemann.
“‘Satisfying’ would be only winning the Championship for us. We were happy we made it to Nationals and advanced from the group stage to semifinals, but the loss to Eels was devastating for us, because we beat them both times before the season. We knew we are the only team who could beat the Rush, but unfortunately we didn't get the chance to do it.”
During the season, Viedemann began mapping out the next four years of his academic and hockey career as well.
“First contact with King's College was probably early this year. I had many phone calls with Coach [Tom] Seravalli,” said Viedemann, adding his list of choices was not long.
“To be honest, I didn't really have a list of schools where I wanted to go. Back home, the school system is different, and I just didn't [and still don't] know much about all schools. My goal entering the season was to play as good as I could and then go to college. I think both went well and I'm happy I can be part of King's College for next years.
“I have decided to major in International Business and Management,” he added. “I think it could bring me so many opportunities for what to do after college and it could prepare me for my future regardless of the direction I take after school.”
The USPHL congratulates Jakub Viedemann, his family, the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes and King’s College for his commitment.