BISMARCK, N.D. - Imagine leaving home at 18 years old to go live in a different country, with a different language, and a totally different way of life. Matej Murin and Adam Stacho are both from Slovakia, and play for the Bismarck Bobcats. They grew up just 68 miles from each other, but that doesn't mean they knew each other.
"We didn't,” Bismarck Bobcats Forward Matej Murin says. “I actually did not know who he is because Slovakia is so small, but it's got like, I think five or six million inhabitants, so like there's a lot of people, so, and especially since he's two years younger. I know hockey players from my age, but he's younger so I didn't know him, but yeah, he's fine."
But the transition from just about 5,000 miles away wasn't easy.
Adam Stacho, Bismarck Bobcats Forward adds, "it was hard because he didn't live with me, and I just understand, but it was hard to do some things for me. First day was really hard. He tried to help me, and try to help me when I didn't understand because my language is, not perfect."
That language barrier between Slovakian and English can be a tough one to translate. While some words or phrases in Slovak mean one thing, the English translation might not even make sense.
"From day one to where they are now, you know English is better, they open up, they're a part of the team which is really fun,” Layne Sedevie, Head Coach of the Bobcats says. “I think you see those guys, hey let's face it, they're traveling thousands of miles, it's a new country."
"I think it's better for me and him because we communicate much faster, and I think it especially helps him probably because I got here last year. But I think I try and like, help him at first at English, I taught him to try and speak with guys, to be friends with them, and even though he didn't speak well English, he tried to, and now he's talking to everyone, so that's nice," said Matej.
And whether these guys are speaking in their native language, or trying their best at English, it's the communication on the ice, from the sport that they love, that they know so well.
"They've become a lot of fun that way which is really cool,” added Sedevie. “Just from day one, Adam never said a word. Matej never said a word, you just see them , probably out of their comfort zone, and to where they are now, they're cracking jokes."
Matej and Adam will be back on the ice this Friday in Brookings to face the Blizzard for a two game series.