Adam Polasek, a defenceman with the P.E.I. Rocket of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, thought he'd be spending Christmas away from his family in the Czech Republic and playing for his country.
It turns out he will be away from home, but not playing for his country.
The Czech Hockey Federation called Polasek earlier this month to tell him he could play at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Saskatchewan. There was a catch, however, since he could only do so if he left the P.E.I. Rocket and returned to the Czech Republic to finish his junior career.
Doing that would put Polasek's ultimate dream in jeopardy.
"My dream is dream [of] everyone ... small kids, it's NHL," Polasek, 18, said Tuesday.
He decided to stay in Charlottetown because he thinks his chances of making the National Hockey League are better if he sticks with the Rocket.
Polasek said he believes the Czech Republic wants him on their world junior team for financial reasons. If he is drafted by an NHL team while playing in the Czech Republic, Polasek said, his country can receive up to $200,000 in development fees from the NHL.
Scouts have pegged Polasek as an early to mid third-round pick in this summer's NHL draft. They like his size and speed, but making the NHL is not that easy. In the seven years the Rocket have been on the Island, only Maxim Lapierre has cracked the big leagues.
Polasek said he dreams of being the "Next One," and some day suiting up for the Toronto Maple Leafs, like fellow Czech defenceman Tomas Kaberle.
Happy to have him
So, instead of playing at the world championships in Saskatoon, he will spend Christmas in Charlottetown with his billets, Tom and June Tessier.
"We're happy to have him here and he'll be part of what we do," June Tessier said. "We're not his family, but we'll do our best with him over the holidays."
Polasek will try to make the best of it, too. He loves staying with the Tessiers, whom he calls his second family. But with all his Rocket teammates home for the holidays, he is feeling a bit homesick.
"I miss my parents, my brother; I miss all my friends," he said.
He calls his mom every day, and keeps in touch with friends and family through the internet.
Polasek said his family supports his decision to stay in Canada, even if it means they won't be watching him play for the Czechs on TV when the world championship begins on Boxing Day.