Mesar: “Slovak hockey is only going up”
by Lucas Aykroyd|29 DEC 2022
Slovak assistant captain Filip Mesar (R, #10) is eager to help his nation earn its third World Junior medal of all time at the 2023 tournament co-hosted by Moncton and Halifax.
photo: Chris Tanouye / IIHF
At the 2022 NHL Draft, Filip Mesar didn’t get the same spotlight that Juraj Slafkovsky (chosen first overall by the Montreal Canadiens) or Simon Nemec (chosen second overall by the New Jersey Devils) enjoyed.

However, the 26th overall pick is thrilled to become part of the Canadiens organization along with Slafkovsky, the 2022 Olympic MVP. And as an assistant captain with Slovakia, the HK Poprad-trained Mesar is having an impact in his second World Juniors.

Playing on a line with Samuel Honzek and Servac Petrovsky, the smart, shifty 18-year-old winger scored his team’s fourth goal when Slovakia surprisingly trounced the U.S. 6-3 in Group B play in Moncton. It was a big bounceback after falling 5-2 to Finland in the opener.

Mesar has 10 goals and 22 points in 17 games so far with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. He hopes to use his offensive prowess to get Slovakia back on the World Junior podium for the first time since 2015’s bronze medal. caught up with Mesar after the win over the Americans.

What was it like to upset the U.S.?

Before the game, we talked with Simon [Nemec], saying that we need more energy on our bench. And all game, I think there was a great atmosphere on the bench. We played like a team and that’s why we won.

How did you feel about your own game?

I felt pretty good. I had a couple chances. I made a couple of good passes there. But overall, I was thinking about the team effort. Every guy on our team played really good today. That’s why we won today. We need to think that way about the next games as well.

Did you feel like luck was on your side when your goal to make it 4-2 went in?

I think it was like a game winner! But every goal today was really important for us.

How exciting is it for you to be back at your second World Juniors after not playing at the tournament in August?

I was so excited before this tournament because I wanted to meet my boys from Slovakia! It’s a good group of guys. I hope that we will win more games in this tournament.

Are you staying in touch with Juraj Slafkovsky, giving him all the updates?

Yeah, we’re calling usually after every game he plays in the NHL. So we are in touch, still talking to each other a lot.

Getting to be part of the Montreal organization, what has that been like for you so far?

So excited! Montreal is probably the best team in the history of the NHL. I’m so excited to be drafted there and there’s a lot of work ahead of me

You’ve got some great teammates here with Slovakia. What do you think of the way Dalibor Dvorsky is performing now at age 17?

These guys who are eligible for this year’s draft are really good! Dvorsky has a pretty good shot. He’s a good “thinking guy,” so he will be doing his things. He can do something in the draft, too. He can be really high. Also, guys like Samuel Honzek and Maxim Strbak – they’re really good boys and really good players.

You're part of the leadership group, wearing an “A” on your jersey. What kind of a captain is Simon Nemec?

Like me and Simon, [fellow assistant captain] Libor Nemec is also a pretty good guy. So we are talking to each other a lot. We want to be leaders on the team and we want to show it on the ice and off the ice as well.

With Kitchener, what are your goals for the season?

Well, I think we have a pretty good team this season. We added a new player in Francesco Arcuri from the Kingston Frontenacs. So I think we can be really good this season. The goal is to be the best we can.

Here in Moncton, who’s your roommate?

Simon Nemec. Like I said, we’re talking a lot to each other, and we’re really good friends, probably best friends. Also, in the summer we trained together in Slovakia. So that’s why I’m his roommate.

2022 is almost over. It has been a great year for Slovak hockey, from the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics to all those high NHL draft picks. From your perspective, what’s it been like?

I think we have pretty good guys. More talented guys in the last couple of years. I think Slovak hockey is only going up and up. So I hope we can figure it out and be the best we can.