While others were dressing up in costumes and hitting the streets to celebrate Halloween, Arizona Coyotes rookie center Christian Dvorak was on the road to the minors.
After going scoreless in his first seven NHL games, Dvorak was sent down by the Coyotes to the team’s minor league affiliate in Tucson, Ariz. While this could’ve been a dark moment for the 20-year-old, his fortunes would quickly change for the better.
His stay in Tucson proved to be short lived as he was recalled by the big club less than 48 hours later. The same day, the Palos, Ill., native watched his hometown Chicago Cubs win their first World Series in more than 100 years. To top off the week, Dvorak was back on the ice for Arizona a day later and scored his first NHL goal against Nashville.
In his short time in the show, Dvorak has experienced the roller coaster facts of life that come with being an NHL rookie. Fortunately, the growing pains he is experiencing are being felt by several of his teammates on Arizona’s young roster.
With nearly half of Arizona’s roster under the age of 25, it could be only a matter of time before a dynasty begins to bloom in the desert southwest.
“This is a good group of guys,” said Anthony DeAngelo, who has also bounced back and forth between Phoenix and Tucson this season. “We have a good mix of youth and experience. It’s just a matter of time until this gets turned around.”
As a second round pick of the Coyotes in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Dvorak has long been expected to be a key cog in the Coyotes youth movement. But his meteoric rise up the ranks helped him punch his ticket to the NHL quicker than many expected.
During the 2015-16 season, he turned heads by scoring 52 goals as a member of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
Dvorak also made an impact while playing for U.S. National Junior Team competing at the 2016 World Junior Championships. In seven games, the gifted center notched three goals and five assists as the Americans took home the bronze medal.
Coming on the heels of these strong performances, Dvorak enjoyed a strong training camp, which earned him a spot on the Coyotes’ opening night roster.
After a thrilling opening night win, the Coyotes lost six of their next seven games. And as the team has gone through tough stretches so far this season, Dvorak can take comfort in having other rookies to lean on.
“It’s nice to have guys alongside you who are going through the same thing,” he said. “We also have guys who have gotten a season or two under their belt. Those guys have been great at answering any questions we might have.”
As he continues to work through the challenges of being a newcomer in the NHL, Dvorak believes that with hard work he can be a mainstay with the Coyotes.
“I just have to make sure I’m playing my game,” he said. “With my ability to be a two-way player, I think I can be a dynamic offensive player and can be ready for any type of situation.”