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Beware of Charging Buffalo: Pesky Pekar eyes spot with Sabres

Whether he’s delivering or absorbing a big hit, Matej Pekar’s pluck and ‘dirty’ skills make him one to watch.

The first time many Sabres fans saw center Matej Pekar on the ice, he was getting trucked by No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin at Buffalo’s development camp this past summer. But first impressions can be deceiving, as Pekar is usually the one bringing the thunder.

The native of the Czech Republic made that abundantly clear last season in the USHL, where he played for a very fun Muskegon Lumberjacks squad. “I loved it,” Pekar said. “It went way better than expected. We were that team that loved to entertain the fans and do whatever it takes. We loved to score a lot of goals, loved to fight, loved to throw some big bodies and do all the good chirping…sometimes the old-school hockey came to play. It was really fun.”

Pekar had actually played minor hockey in Michigan the previous two seasons, so he’s acclimated to North America and his English is quite good. But that didn’t prepare him for the tactics that some NHL franchises use at the draft combine to throw kids off-balance during the interview process. “One team told me I was a party guy, that I spent too much time with girls and was going to get in trouble,” Pekar said. “I kept saying it’s not true, I haven’t been to a party in years. Maybe it was their method to see how I was going to react.”

Originally committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Pekar flipped to Miami before ultimately deciding to eschew the NCAA altogether for OHL Barrie, where he got off to a sizzling start with the Colts. Like Muskegon, Barrie has been a high-octane team in recent years, and Pekar was making the most of his chances with 10 points in his first seven games. The kid’s got skill – he did the Peter Forsberg move during a Colts game with a defender draped on his back – and he clearly doesn’t mind the rough stuff. That also comes up when discussing his influences. “Either Ondrej Palat or Brad Marchand,” Pekar said. “Two-way forward, sometimes getting dirty. I love to do the dirty work in the corners and find my teammates for good scoring opportunities.”

With his motor, there’s going to be a lot of both in the future.

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