St. Cloud, MN – If you’ve followed the progress of St. Cloud State University junior defenseman, Ondrej Trejbal you have noticed a definite trajectory to his game. However, it shouldn’t be surprising for the native of Hamry nad Sazavou of the Czech Republic.
A late recruit for the Huskies in March of 2019, Minnesota Wilderness head coach Dave Boitz was gushing with pride noting “Ondrej is an incredibly talented offensive defenseman and has been a driving, positive force on our team. Off the ice, Ondrej is an outstanding human being and the Wilderness family is beyond excited to see him continue his journey at the top-notch program St. Cloud has to offer. ”
Trejbal, who skated for the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League for two seasons played in 53 games in 2017-18 picking up 9 goals and adding 20 assists for 29 points. He improved on those numbers in 2018-19 with 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points in 55 games. In February of 2019, he set the team record for most points by a Wilderness defensemen previously held by Bemidji State defenseman Tyler Vold. Trejbal played in two NAHL Top Prospects Tournaments, both in 2018 and 2019 and previous to the Minnesota Wilderness competed internationally for the Czech U17 team and played for the Pardubice U16/U18/U20 teams.
Despite being a late commit, Trejbal has rarely been out of the lineup appearing in 28 games as a first-year player, 29 games as a sophomore, and all 10 games as a junior on a very deep SCSU defensive unit. Last season, he posted 1 goal and 9 assists for 10 points and is halfway there with 1 goal (SH) and 4 assists for 5 points. Noticeably, perhaps the most obvious improvement is in his defensive game leading the defenseman in plus-minus and tied for the team lead at plus 7.
Head coach Brett Larson is obviously pleased with the growth of his overall game. “”I’ve seen him get better and better each year,” said Larson. “He quietly does all the little things. He defends well, he can jump up into the play and make a play. We’ve seen him make some big-time plays coming up the rink. He’s smart but the area where he’s really gotten better is his aggressive defending, his ability to get in a corner and be more physical, and his ability to shut a play down. He’s becoming a more physical defender in tight areas and he’s able to close the play and shut the play down,” added Larson. “I think that is giving him confidence.”
Larson is impressed by his ability to get better. “He’s working at it,” said Larson. “I was leaving the rink Monday at 5:45 PM and there was one guy doing extra (in the weight room) and it was Ondrej Trejbal. He’s really committed to getting better. It’s clear to me, the team comes first to him” noted coach Larson.
“He could be a power-play guy,” added Larson. “But, we like the role he’s in right now. He’s a defend first, make a good first pass, make the right smart play (type of player), and then jump in as a second wave type guy.”
As humble as they get, Trejbal admits “It’s hard to say things about yourself. As the season goes on I’m getting better in the defensive zone. I’ve worked a lot on getting better with my stick and being more physical in the defensive zone,” says the 6’3″ 190-pound Trejbal. “If I have the chance to jump into the play and support the forward I try to do that too.” An example was the short-handed goal he scored vs St. Thomas on October 2nd.
“I’ve been working a lot on shooting and getting stronger in the summer,” said Trejbal.”When I jump into the play, I feel comfortable getting back and getting into the play. I’m trying to work on my strength in the weight room. You can always get stronger.”
Trejbal credits the other European players on the team with helping him acclimate to college life. “My first year it was nice that David (Hrenak) was here because he helped me with school and hockey-wise as well and if I was struggling with classes or whatever. I didn’t know him before I came here but I knew he was from Slovakia. He’s a good guy and whenever I need something he’s there to talk.”
Assistant captain, Kevin Fitzgerald, a fifth-year graduate student has also seen the progression in his game. “He sees the ice so well and ever since he’s been here he’s taken a step each year. He’s always had that offensive instinct where’s he really good and calm with the puck. But, defensively down low being harder to play against he’s taken some big steps the last couple of years.”
“I’m trying to do my best, have fun and play hockey,” said the ever so humble Trejbal.