Marko Stacha has quietly become a key part of the Giant’s blueline this season. The 19-year-old Slovakian defender has been a staple on the penalty kill and is a big reason the Giants find themselves ranked fifth in the WHL and first in the BC Divison. Despite the language barrier, Stacha was able to open up about his first WHL season, how he fell in love with the game, and the lessons he has learned from his first season in North America.
Falling in love with the game
Stacha discussed how he fell in love with the game.
“I think I was five years old. My older brother used to play hockey so we had gear at home. I use to come to his games and he was always my hero and role model. When I saw him play, I wanted to play as well.
#2021NHLDraft eligible defenseman 🇸🇰 Marko Stacha scored his first goal of the season yesterday. He also had an assist earlier in the game.
Stacha’s average TOI has improved from ~10 to 15:44 min/match in the last 3 games.
— Matej Deraj (@MatoDeraj) November 28, 2020
When asked who his favourite player to watch growing up was, a former Giants’ name came up.
“Zdeno Chara for sure. He is still one of my favourites. I really love how he works hard and his leadership. Also Lubomir Visnovsky. (Lastly), from my home town, Andrej Meszároš. He was our family friend and use to play for the Giants. When I told him I was coming to the Giants, he gave me some advice. He said to work hard. He also said it would be hard being away from family for the first time. It is hard but I think I am getting used to it.”
Moving to North America
The decision to travel across the globe is a difficult one. This is especially true for an 18-year-old. Although it was a difficult decision, Stacha knew it was the right one.
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) April 28, 2021
“It was always my dream to play in the NHL. I think this is another step closer to helping me get to the NHL. I hope I do everything I can to make my dream come true.”
Playing in two bubbles
Stacha has played in two bubbles this season. First with Slovakia at the World Juniors, and now with the Giants. Stacha discusses what it was like to play for his home country and the unique circumstances this year.
“It’s always special to represent your country, especially when it comes to a World Championship. It was something new to be in the bubble. It was not that different though compared to normal tournaments. Usually, you do not have time to explore so it was almost the same as every National tournament. I think playing without the fans is something new. It still feels weird to play without the fans.”
Toughest player to play against
Stacha usually plays against the other team’s top players but had an interesting answer when asked who the toughest player to play against was.
🇸🇰 SIGNED! 🇸🇰
The Vancouver Giants have signed Slovakian defenceman Marko Stacha (2002) to a @TheWHL Standard Player Agreement.
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) July 29, 2020
“It’s hard to say because every team has good players. However, I really do not like playing against Tristen Nielsen and Justin Sourdif in practice. They are really good so it’s kind of hard to defend them. From the other teams, Connor Zary. He is really good. It is a challenge to defend him so I like to play against him.”
Off the ice
In the bubble, players are always looking for things to do to kill some time. For Stacha, there is one activity he loves doing and claims he is the best on the Giants’ at doing.
“Foosball. I think I am really good at it. That is why it is my favourite one. I am not that good at ping pong and I hate losing so I don’t play it. We play two versus two. I am usually partnered with Kadyn Chabot and we are unstoppable. We are something like 14-1. No competition.
Favourite moments this year
With the season coming to a close, Stacha reflected on some of his favourite moments from the past season.
“The time I spent with my billets. They were really nice. The first win here was also a special moment. I can’t really pick one moment so every win has been a great moment. All the fun in the locker room. The music is playing and everything. Everyone is happy and that is a really nice moment. I just like being in Canada a lot. I am enjoying every day so it’s hard for me to pick one moment.”
Stacha is a player Giants fans are going to really appreciate next year. He plays the game the right way and is a kid you really want to cheer for. Look for big number 6 on the blueline next year at the Ladner Event Centre. Although he may not put up a ton of points, he contributes to the team every night and will be a big part of the Giants’ success moving forward.