By Kris Smith
Back in December, Dow landed a spot on HK Spisska Nova Ves’ roster for their upcoming Slovakia2 season, after a brief spell in the East Coast Hockey League with Wheeling Nailers.
After spending two years in Dundee, the Canadian was forced to look elsewhere for playing opportunities as the British hockey season was cancelled last August.
However, seven months and 38 regular season games later, Dow and Spisska finished third in Slovakian’s second tier and began their long 15-game playoff run to glory and promotion.
Through the regular season, Drydn made 21 appearances and scored a total of 12 points (2G, 10A), before adding 4 (1G, 3A) more in his 15 post-season outings.
Speaking after getting his hands on the trophy, Drydn said: “This is an amazing feeling!
“It has been a long time since I had won a championship, so it felt great lifting that trophy and being able to celebrate with all the guys.”
He continued: “This has definitely been one of the toughest years of my career.
“With everything going on there were a lot of ups and downs through the summer and start of the year!
“When I finally got settled here in Spisska though it was much more comfortable to be back to just playing hockey again, so ending it with a championship was a great way to finish a very different year!”
Whilst here in the UK we are used to a playoff campaign that lasts just nine days, over in Slovakia they use the North American format of a seven game series, where a team needs to win four games to advance to the next round.
With eight of the 10 teams in the league qualifying, they head straight into the Quarter-Finals and after finishing third place, Spisska were first paired against HK Levice, who they quickly swept in the first four matches.
Then second seeded, HK Martin were their Semi-Finals opponents and after a gruelling six-games, Spisska moved on to the finale – following their come back from being 2-1 down in the series.
In the final, they met league winners VLCI Zilina and quickly moved 2-0 ahead in the series before slipping up in Game 3.
However, Drydn and his teammates rallied to win the next two games on the bounce and would seal their success and promotion to the top flight with a 4-3 shootout victory in Zilina on Friday night.
“Playing in the playoffs with the 7-game series is always a grind, so yeah it was a bit of a challenge!”, said Dow.
He added: “Although, we really came together as a team through this time though and used each other a lot to get through some of the challenges that were presented to us.”
When asked what made this team so special and what fuelled their playoff and promotion success, Drydn replied: “Honestly it was a team that had a lot of hometown players.
“So, there was a lot of pride in our dressing room to do well and have their hometown team advance to the top league.
“We were also a pretty complete team and had contributions from every line which helped us to succeed.”
The 28-year-old will be taking some well-deserved time-off to enjoy this success but it has only made him more driven to win more championships in the near future.
“Winning my first championship as a professional was an amazing feeling and it just gives me more motivation to win again!” said Dow.
He continued: “Having that feeling is great and you always want to have that, so I am just excited to get a chance to win again next year!
“I just hope to get the opportunity to join a team again and hopefully strive to win another championship.
“I am going to take a bit of time to enjoy this and then get back to working to be ready to play again next year.”