OSHAWA — Generals second-year forward Sebastian Uvira really only knows how to play one way.
At 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, the German import brings intensity and an almost fanatical ferocity to the ice.
Yet according to his coach, that is both a blessing and a curse.
“He is a guy that plays hard, there is no doubt,” said Generals head coach D.J. Smith, to the Toronto Observer outside the Oshawa dressing room after his team fell 3-2 at home to Saginaw.
“But he has to be a little more disciplined because for now he’s a little bit wild.”
Uvira, 19, has hockey in his blood as his father Eduard played professionally in the Czech and German leagues in the 1980s and early ’90s, and even represented his native Czechoslovakia in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
Sebastian, who was born in the southwestern German city of Freiburg while his father was playing for the local club, gives his dad a lot of credit for his development.
“He was a defenceman and I am a forward, but he had a big impact on me,” said the Oshawa winger.
“He built me an area in the basement where I could shoot pucks and improve myself as much as I could. He showed me a lot of different stuff, and we watched a lot of video together. I am really happy to have him, he’s a great guy.”
Uvira got his first taste of representing Germany at the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Under-18 tournament in Dresden.
While all the scouts there were chomping at the bit to see current Kitchener Ranger and Edmonton Oilers draft pick Tobias Rieder, Uvira caught their eyes with his two-way game.
Although he had signed a three-year developmental contract with the Deutsche Eishockey Liga’s Augsburg Panthers at the time, he was able to convince the team’s general manager to allow him to play junior hockey in Canada as he felt it would be better for his growth as a player.
Uvira does not regret his decision after being taken 46th overall in the 2011 OHL import draft by the Generals.
“I really like it here,” he said. “The fans are great, and they have really supported me in every way.
“I have some great billets who are helping me a lot, and it’s great to have a family that can take care of you.”
Another reason why he has been comfortable on this side of the pond is the recent influx of German players in the Canadian Hockey League.
There are currently nine plying their trade in the CHL, with five in the OHL including Barrie Colts goaltender Mathias Niederberger, whom he has been friends with for “a couple years.”
That familiarity, and the quality of hockey that those like him are being exposed to, bodes well for the German entry into the up-coming 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.
“We now have some guys like Rieder, (Sarnia forward Nickolas) Latta, and (Sudbury Wolves sniper Dominik) Kahun, who have a very high skill level,” he said.
“Those are the guys we are going to rely on to score goals but in the end we have to work hard. The work ethic is there; we fore-check hard, we back-check hard, and we play with heart, and I think that is the most important thing about our team.”
For Coach Smith, the biggest question about Uvira is his inability to stay healthy for long periods of time. Already this season, he was sidelined with a finger injury sustained during a fight in the team’s home opener.
Yet his Oshawa bench boss has a high level of belief in him.
“He has to prove to people that can stay healthy, but he can score, and bang, and he is a very valuable player if he can do those three things.”