Steve Dunsmoor/Dunsmoor Creative Kelowna Chiefs’ forward Julian Fodor will play at the 2018 world U20 Div. 3 championship next year in Bulgaria.

Chiefs’ Fodor named to Team Australia

Australian-born forward to play at Division 3 world juniors

Julian Fodor didn’t arrive in Canada last winter with the intention of pursuing a new opportunity in hockey.

That all changed during a family ski vacation at Sun Peaks when a family friend put the 17-year-old from Brisbane, Australia in touch with the KIJHL’s Kelowna Chiefs.

The rest, as they say, is history.

“After I went to the (Chiefs’) spring camp, I was invited back for a tryout and now I’m on the team,” said Fodor. “The hockey has been a big step for me and I’m living a long way from home, from my parents, so those have been some pretty big changes for me.

“But it’s going pretty well and I’m enjoying it.”

A forward, Fodor played junior at the club level in Australia where hockey is far from being the mainstream sport it is in Canada.

For Fodor, the on-ice learning curve with the Chiefs has been substantial but progress is being made.

“The junior hockey (in Australia) is poor compared to here, there have been some adjustments, like the physicality and the quality of players (in Canada),” said Fodor, who has two goals and an assist in 21 games this season. “I think I’ve started to adjust pretty well. Just being able to practise and play every day instead of once or twice a week like in Australia helps me a lot.”

Chiefs’ head coach Jason Tansem said Fodor has adapted well to his new surroundings.

“Julian came into a very hard situation jumping into a junior hockey club but his work ethic and desire to be better has made him a very good teammate,” said Tansem. “The improvements we have seen in his skating and hockey sense are through the roof. It has been a great learning experience for both Julian and the team. We are very glad he is here.”

Fodor earned some long sought-after recognition from back home this week when he was named to Australia’s U20 team for the 2018 IIHF World Junior Division III Championship in Bulgaria.

It was welcome news for Fodor who was passed over for his national squad the previous two years.

“It’s a great honour to be able to play for my country,” Fodor said of his inclusion on Team Australia. “It’s satisfying to get a full-fledged spot after not making it the last two years.

“It’ll be serious competition,” Fodor said of the world tournament. “It should help my game, to play under the pressure of an event like that. I need to take advantage of the opportunity.”

The winning team at the tournament will move up to the Division II level in 2019.

Fodor will join his Aussie teammates in Sofia, Bulgaria for the championship, Jan. 22 to 28.

Chiefs host Wranglers Saturday…

The Chiefs return to action Friday when they travel to Revelstoke to play the Grizzlies. Then on Saturday, Kelowna will play host to the 100 Mile House Wranglers. Face off at Rutland Arena is 7 p.m.

The Chiefs (12-11-1-2) are coming off back-to-back losses last weekend, 10-2 in Osoyoos on Friday and 6-5 at home to North Okanagan on Saturday.

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