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Goalie returnee and former NHL player came to Medvescak

Transfers 01.08.2017.
Goalie returnee and former NHL player came to Medvescak

Medvescak got three new signings in the Den. First one is Slovenian goalie Gašper Krošelj who is a familiar face for Medvescak fans, the second one is young goalie Vito Nikolić and the third one is Jozef Balej, Slovakian forward with experience of playing in the NHL.

35-year-old Baley who was born in Myjava started his junor career playing for HC Dukla Trencin under 18. In two phenomenal seasons he scored 88 goals and assisted 65 times in only 103 games played! His game was recognized and in the next season Balej moved to USHL. Slovakian played 55 times for Thunder Bay Flyers and Rochester Mustangs before he moved to Western Hockey League (WHL).

In one of the best Canadian junior leagues Balej played for Portland Winter Hawks where he scored 105 goals and made 85 assists in 176 appearences. In 2000 Balej was selected in the third round of NHL Draft as the 78th pick for Montreal Canadiens.

His professional career started in 2002 when Balej played in the AHL for Montreal affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs.  He played 56 games scoring 20 points and in the next season Balej got four appearences for Montreal in the NHL. In the same season Balej was traded to New York Rangers where he played 13 games scoring one goal and making four assists. In the same season Balej played 60 games in the AHL scoring 62 points which gave him a chance to play in AHL All-Star Game.

Whole next season Balej represented Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL scoring 20 goals and making 22 assists. In 2005/06 season Slovakian player moved to Vancouver Canucks, but most of his spell in Canada he spent in AHL playing for Manitoba Moose.

In 2006 Balej got a transfer to Swiss NLA where he played 37 games and scored 30 points for Fribourg-Gotteron before he came back to Manitoba where he spent next season. After a year in North America Balej decided for a permanent move to Europe. He spent three seasons in Czech Extraliga playing first two for Trinec and the last one for Kometa Brno.

Video source: www.youtube.com

In 2012 Balej played first half of the season in Slovakia for Slovan Bratislava before he came back to Kometa Brno where they played in the playoff finals. Next season he finally won Czech Extraliga playing for Plzen. Balej played 41 game scoring 23 points before he moved to Pirati Chomutov. In 2014 Balej came back to Plzen before he spent nex season in Slovakia and Switzerland. Last season before joining Medvescak Slovakian player played in Swiss NLB where he scored 44 points in 43 games. Last month of the season Balej spent with former and current Medvescak coaches Gordie Dwyer and Connor Cameron in Ambri-Piotta.

In his long-lasting career Balej played six games for Slovakian national team and represented his nation on under 18 and 20 World Championships scoring three goals and making eight assists in 13 games.

„Jozef is an offensive player who has a great shot and goal scoring ability. He comes with lots of pro experience. He spent last year as a point per game player in Swiss B and also spent last month of year in Ambri with Gordie and Connor. They both spoke very highly of him. He's a true pro who is in great shape and is very competitive.  Should be a great addition to our forward group“, said Medvescak Sports Director Aaron Fox.

Second Medvescak signing is a Slovenian goalie Gašper Krošelj who played for Medvescak three times in his career. His junior career started in Slavija Ljubljana where Krošelj made his first professional appearences and he also played for Slovakian team Topolcany in his junior days.

Krošelj got his first chance with Medvescak in 2006 when he played in IEL and Croatian Championship. After that Krošelj played for Slavija again and came back to the Den in 2008. He spent next three seasons with Medvescak, playing two of them in EBEL.

Krošelj continued his career in Jesenice before opting to play in Scandinavia. He played in Danmark and after that made his move to Norway and Swedish Allsvenskana. Where he played 80 games for Sparta Sarpsborg and IK Oskarshamn.

In 2015/16 he played 26 games for Medvescak in the KHL and won the World Championship in the Division 1A becoming the best goalie of the tournament.

Last season Krošelj played in Allsvenskana for AIK and got the chance to represent his country in Olympic Games qualifications.

„Gašper obviously we all know very well from his time here.  He's coming in to be our number 1 and we think he's an elite level goalie for the EBEL and  should give us a chance to win a lot of hockey games.  I am very happy we were able to get him back to Zagreb“, added Fox.

Vito Nikolić is also confirmed as the third goalie for next season. He started his junior career in Slovakian Topolcany and Dubnica before transfering to Maribor. Last season he played for Medvescak in EBYSL and represents Croatia under 20 national team.