Saint Dominic Academy goalie Gaston Fuksa, right, and freshman defenseman Derek Wolverton will play a key role in stopping the high power Lewiston offense during Tuesday night’s championship game at the Colisee in Lewiston with the winner moving on to the state championship game.(Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Two players who man two different positions, who are different ages, have different last names and hail from different countries have been one big addition for the St. Dominic Academy boys’ hockey team.
Derek Wolverton was all set to become part of the Saints’ program as an incoming freshman to the school. But before he could be a welcome addition to that hockey family he first had to welcome an addition of his own to his family at home.
Who just so happened to become a part of more than one family.
As Wolverton was welcomed to the private Auburn school the Wolvertons welcomed a foreign-exchange to their family, who would also call the school home for a year.
So across the Atlantic came Gaston Fuksa, all the way from Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic — a city of roughly 55,000 people, Fuksa estimated.
“It’s no big city, but it’s no more city — the same as Auburn and Lewiston together,” Fuksa said.
Fuksa, an incoming junior in high school, first had to learn about his new family, which included hockey-playing Derek.
The Wolvertons, meanwhile, soon learned that their temporary family member played hockey as well.
“We saw videos of him playing goalie on the internet, so we found out pretty early on that he was a goalie and that he’d help our team,” Wolverton said.
Fuksa, who said he didn’t know his new housemate was a hockey player, guessed it was probably a couple weeks into his time with the Wolvertons that he learned of the hockey prowess at St. Dom’s.
“I’m talking with Derek or talking with Joe, my host father, and we start talking about history,” Fuksa said.
It wasn’t too long into the future that Fuksa started to become part of the St. Dom’s hockey present.
The first time Wolverton saw Fuksa play in person — “the first day he was here we actually went and played just shinny hockey,” he said — it was “more impressive” than what he had seen in those videos.
Word soon spread to St. Dom’s head coach Bob Parker.
“I heard there was a student coming to school, and I heard he was good because he had been practicing, skating with some other kids around,” Parker said. “I was just patient and waiting, but when he did get to camp he was pretty tall, he was very athletic and he seemed really good. It took some scrimmages and some drills to really see what he can do, and early in the season when the scrimmage games were going on he was impressive. Then when games started Gaston was … it was great to see a young man with a lot of energy and a lot of skill set at his position.”
The Saints had graduated all-state goalie Kyle Welsh the year before, so Parker was more than happy to bring in Fuksa.
“You can never have enough goalies, I guess,” Parker said. “But he’s helped out at that position, and made our team a stronger team, starting from the goalie out.”
Parker also was able to add a rotational defenseman in Wolverton, after losing all but two blue-liners from last year’s team.
“Derek is a very good freshman,” Parker said. “He’s strong, he’s got a nice shot, he’s willing to learn, and hard-working young man and a very coachable hockey player.”
That they play so close to each other on the ice has helped Fuksa and Wolverton grow closer as short-term siblings.
“It’s very much better because we are every day talking about hockey, and he’s defense, I’m goalie, so we have much more together than a goalie and a forward,” Fuksa said. “So we are every day talking about hockey, what is wrong, what is good in practice or in game. This is much more better for me, and he too.”
“It’s fun. He does help me with hockey, he gets a different style going, and he helps us out,” Wolverton said. “He’s also just a good person to have around the house. He’s funny, he makes us laugh a lot.”
The family dynamic at the Wolverton house has changed with the addition of Fuksa too. Derek, who has a twin sister, Emma, is no longer the oldest child, something he called “different.”
Fuksa is the oldest child in his house back in the Czech Republic, but with only two younger brothers he had never had a sister before.
“I tell her it’s my third mother. First mother in Czech, second mother is here, and she’s third mother,” Fuksa said. “She helps me (with) everything. ‘No, this is no good, Gas. How are you wearing this every time? How are you eating this?’ So it’s very funny. And the younger brothers is fighting. So just normal brothers.”
“This is a very good family for me,” Fuksa added, “and I am very happy they give me this experience for this whole year.”
Part of the experience has been learning a “different hockey style” and becoming a Saint. Fuksa has turned heads in net not only in his new house and among his new team, but on opposing coaches and in rival schools.
There have been games when Fuksa has faced 30, 40, 50 shots, turning nearly all of them away. There have been shutouts, too, with none bigger than against rival Edward Little in last Saturday’s Class A North regional semifinals. Making that moment more special was that Wolverton scored his first varsity goal in the win.
“It felt good,” Wolverton said. “It was a relief for me because then I didn’t really have that wait of not scoring on my shoulder, and in the moment it was just a blur because I didn’t really know it went in. I saw my teammates skating at me, so I just reacted.”
“It actually was very good because he wants every time to score, and all season he didn’t score, so now he scored and he, I think, just ‘oh my god, I scored? Oh really?'” Fuksa said. “He was so happy.”
Fuksa and Wolverton now have at least one more game together, when they and the Saints take on another rival, Lewiston, in the North regional final.
“I know the first two games versus Lewiston was full rink, and it’s a very big game, so I’m very excited and we must just win,” Fuksa said.
Win or lose, it will be a “once-in-a-lifetime experience,” according to Wolverton.
It will be just one day in part of a whole year that Wolverton has called once-in-a-lifetime with Fuksa joining the family. And even when Fuksa returns to his own country and his own family, he will still have a brother stateside who will be once again watching his heroics in goal. Meanwhile, Fuksa will be keeping an eye on the player that he thinks Wolverton can grow into.