American hockey players discuss tenure with Sparta Prague

Alex Foster, photo: archive of Sparta Prague

American hockey players Troy Milam and Alex Foster are halfway through a year-long contract with Sparta Prague, currently the top team in the Czech Extra League. After an important win over their major rivals HC Plzeň, reporters Lothar Martin and Lena Drummer from Radio Prague’s German section met up with the players and asked what they attributed Sparta’s success to.

Alex Foster,  Troy Milam,  photo: Lena Drummer
Troy Milam: “It was kind of for me early on just to kind of figure out the league and the type of hockey that we play. But we have some great players, obviously – Petr Ton and Petr Tenkrát, and our goalie Tomáš Pöpperle is playing awesome. So I think it’s just thanks to the really high level of talent of the individuals that come together, and we mesh well and things are going well for us. And hopefully things will continue that way.”

Alex Foster: “I would just add to that; I feel like we have a great mix, like Troy said, we have those top guys, like Ton and Tenkrát, but also like you saw in tonight’s game, our so-called fourth line scored a couple goals and played really well, so I feel like whether it’s our first line or our fourth line, we have a lot of guys who can do the job.”

Do you like Sparta’s style of playing? What kind of role did the trainer, Jandač, give you on the team, and how content are you with your playing in that role?

Alex Foster: “My role was a two-way centre-man – to play good defence and if I can chip in with some offence that would be great. I feel like I’ve done a good job this year and I think they like me. I’m okay with that role, it’s kind of where I’ve been in my entire pro career, so I’m used to it. And I like the style of play, it’s fast and there’s some hitting, but a lot of skill. It’s exciting to watch.”

Troy Milam,  photo: archive of Sparta Prague
Troy Milam: “Coming in, I think my role was to be kind of an offensive defenseman. But I think my goal is to be a situational guy, where whether it’s a powerplay or a penalty kill or the last two minutes of a game, the coaches have the confidence to put me on the ice. And that’s what I want to do for the team.”

Do your friends and families in the United States track your achievements here, and what is their feedback?

Troy Milam: “Yeah, every time I go somewhere new there’s an adjustment period for trying to figure out the website. My mom has been able to figure out how to watch games now, and it’s a six-hour time difference, so if there’s a chance that she can catch it online then she watches the game, and other friends check the stats. I appreciate when people back home keep up with it because it’s tough.”

Alex Foster,  photo: archive of Sparta Prague
Alex Foster: “My whole family is a pretty big hockey family, so my dad gets excited when I play, and my brother-in-law plays in Pardubice, so he checks their score and our score, and my uncle played as well, so my whole extended family keeps an eye on me and tries to see how I’m doing. And we Skype daily with somebody from back home to say hi and let them know how things are going, so it’s good.

Troy, you signed a one year contract, what kind of plans do you have? Could you imagine staying with Sparta longer?

“I can definitely imagine it. As of right now I don’t have any plans. The last four or five seasons have only been one-year contracts and I’ve never really had the opportunity to go back to the same team. And after the kind of year that we hopefully have, I wouldn’t be looking to go anywhere else.”

Alex, when you go back to the US, is there anything that you particularly like here that you would like to take back from Prague?

Alex Foster: “Actually, I didn’t expect it, but I really like a lot of the Czech food. Once a week, we get a meal brought into the rink for us, and I feel like every week it’s different, there’s duck, dumplings, spinach… I really enjoy all of it. I don’t know how I would be able to bring it home, but I really like the Czech food, actually.”

Sparta Prague - HC Plzeň,  photo: archive of Sparta Prague
Troy Milam: “I think if I had some family and friends from back home eat some beef tartar, that’s something that would be surprising for them. And then, you know, the Czechs are so proud of their beer, so if I can sneak some beer and some absinthe out of here, it will be pretty fun for my friends I think.”