Every morning, Vancouver Giants forward Milos Roman starts his day the same way, having an online video chat with his family in Slovakia, who live about 7,000 kilometres away.
“When I wake up, it’s a nine-hour difference,” Roman explained.
For the rest of the day, he does his best to stay busy and keep in shape, working out while he awaits the end of the COVID-19 lockdown that brought the WHL season to a premature end and shuttered the Langley Events Centre, where the Giants are based.
For most players, the season shutdown meant a quick trip home, mostly to communities within Canada.
But for Roman, who is from Kysucke Nova Mesto, a relatively small city of just over 15,000, going home was going to be a long, difficult journey.
As the novel coronavirus spread through Europe, borders were closing, which meant no direct flights to Slovakia.
To get home from Canada, Roman would have had to fly to Vienna, Austria, and then make his way to the border with Slovakia, probably by taking a cab, because scheduled bus service wouldn’t be available.
And with no guarantee he’d be allowed back in.
“Everything was shut down in Slovakia already,” Roman told the Langley Advance Times.
After discussing his situation with both his family in Slovakia and his billet family in Canada, Eliane Alger and Rob Ewing and their two sons, whom he lives with in North Delta, it was agreed.
While he waits, Roman has discovered that he isn’t very good at doing nothing.
Binge-watching television shows and playing videos don’t have much appeal.
He prefers to work out, to maintain his level of fitness and stay as sharp as he can without actual ice time against other players.
“Just trying to keep busy,” is how he put it.
“It’s frustrating but we have to do what we have to do,” Roman added.
At the close of his truncated third season, Roman shared the Players Choice award, as selected by his teammates, with Jackson Shepard.
It was presented at the 2019-20 annual Vancouver Giants Awards on April 20, in recognition of Roman’s 24 goals and 23 assists.
Before he came to play for the Giants, the 1999-born Roman spent the 2016/17 season with HC Frydek-Mistek in the second tier of professional hockey in the Czech Republic.
He was the sixth overall pick in the 2017 Canadian Hockey League import draft, described by then-Giants general manager Glen Hanlon as a “prototypical playmaking centre.”
“Milos is a highly skilled and entertaining player who makes his linemates better with his vision and creativity,” Hanlon said.
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Roman’s talent did not go unnoticed by the Calgary Flames, who made him the 122nd overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Will he be playing there? He won’t say too much about that.
“I’m just waiting,” was his sole comment.