Quick quiz: Which Chicago Wolves player delivered two of the team’s three game-winning goals – including the Game 5 clincher – during the Central Division Semifinals series against the Charlotte Checkers?
Here are some hints: It wasn’t AHL MVP Kenny Agostino, who led the league in regular-season points. It wasn’t AHL First All-Star Team center Wade Megan, who led the league in regular-season goals. In fact, it wasn’t anybody who scored a regular-season goal for the Wolves.
Say hello to 20-year-old center Adam Musil, who hadn’t even played a game professionally at this time last month. He joined the Wolves on April 10 after wrapping up his junior hockey career with the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels.
“Moose” played a quiet role in the Wolves’ last two regular-season games on April 14-15 and wasn’t necessarily expected to contribute during the postseason. But then came a couple injuries to Wolves centers and suddenly Musil was centering the team’s second line against Charlotte – and delivering big in all facets of the game.
Musil led the Wolves during the five-game series against Charlotte with three goals. Only two players scored more goals during the first round of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs – and only one other player produced two game-winning goals.
“Just by playing the right way, he puts himself in really advantageous and strategic positions,” said Wolves assistant coach Daniel Tkaczuk, who handles the team’s forwards. “He works extremely hard. And he’s a smart player. He understands the little
details mean a lot in the professional game.”
Where did the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Musil learn how to play hard and smart and pay attention to the details? You might say he started learning from birth.
Musil’s father, Frank, played 797 National Hockey League regular-season games for the Minnesota North Stars, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers. Adam was born on March 26, 1997, in Ottawa during his dad’s tenure with the Senators. Frank Musil has served as an Oilers scout since his retirement.
His mother, Andrea Holikova, was a professional tennis player who reached the doubles quarterfinals in the 1985 French Open and twice defeated Top 10 players in singles. Prior to turning pro, she claimed junior titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Musil’s uncle, Bobby Holik, scored 326 goals during an 18-year NHL career largely with the New Jersey Devils. His grandfather, Jaroslav Holik, was a longtime player and coach for Czechoslovakia who won a bronze medal in the 1972 Olympics and six medals at the Ice Hockey World Championships.
Oh, and Adam’s older brother, David, just completed his fourth AHL season. The 23-year-old defenseman, who played briefly for the Oilers in 2014-15, posted 4 goals and 14 assists playing for Bakersfield and Tucson.
“I was three years old when my dad took me out for a family skate in Edmonton,” Adam said. “I love hockey. I can’t breathe without it. I can’t live without it. Hockey’s my life and it’s been a part of my life for a very long time.”
With so many professional athletes crowded into his family tree, Adam had no shortage of experts to help him blossom.
“My parents were always giving me some tips and advice,” he said with a smile. “When I’d do something wrong, they’d let me know for sure. My mom was more nice about it. With their experiences and what they’ve been through, it’s pretty nice to have the parents I have. I rely on them.”
The Musil family lived in Canada for the first three years of Adam’s life before moving back to their native Czech Republic – the land from which his parents had defected in the 1980s when it was still Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia (Here’s a great story from 1987 that details Frank and Andrea’s young life).
The Musils returned to Canada when he was 14 because David joined the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. As Adam has risen up the hockey ranks, he has played for Canadian national teams as well as Czech Republic teams. Now he’ll play for his parents’ homeland going forward.
“I felt like I wanted to be like my grandpa and my dad and everyone that has played for Team Czech,” Adam said. “I wanted to follow in their footsteps. Hopefully I can have as much success as them. That would be pretty amazing.”
Right now, though he’s focused on helping the Wolves in the Central Division Finals against Grand Rapids, which open Wednesday at Allstate Arena. He talked earnestly about not letting down his teammates and coaches.
“He is a hard-working, honest type of player,” Tkaczuk said. “You could see that he’s physically strong, but he’s very mature in his approach to the game. He understands that there’s two sides of the puck. You’ve got to play defensively as well as try to provide some offense.
“We didn’t expect him to be producing offensively for us but, lo and behold, there was an opportunity for him to step up. Lo and behold, there he was scoring three goals.”