From Poland to Prince Albert: Macias family enjoying every second in Hockeytown North

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Krzysztof Macias (centre) poses for a photo with his parents Marcin and Agnieszka (left) and his billet family Terrie and Rob Lindsay (right) at the Art Hauser Centre

It took more than 24 hours for the Macias family to travel from Nowy Targ, Poland to Prince Albert but they are enjoying every second in Canada.

Agnieszka and Marcin Macias are the parents of Prince Albert Raiders forward Krzysztof Macias. They arrived in Canada late last week and have been in attendance for the last three Raider games, including one in Moose Jaw.

Krzysztof’s mother Agnieszka says they have appreciated the warm reception they have received in Prince Albert.

“I want to thank everyone because everyone is so hospitable here. It’s really nice and this is what I read about Canada and Canadians on the internet, everything is great. When it comes to hockey it’s really fast. It’s much faster than we have in Poland. But it’s just incredible and it’s nice to watch it.”

Krzysztof Macias has made an immediate impact in the WHL since being selected by the Prince Albert Raiders 15th overall in the 2023 CHL Import Draft.

In 48 games for the Raiders this season, Macias has recorded 16 goals and 10 assists. Macias currently sits in a three-way tie for fifth amongst all WHL rookies in goals. He also sits second in scoring amongst WHL import rookies as only Everett’s Julius Miettinen (Helsinki, Finland) has more points.

Krzysztof says he has enjoyed having his family in Prince Albert, because they will be able to see for themselves what he has described via text messages and phone calls.

“That’s going to be very special to me—not only hockey-wise, but life-wise—to see my parents here in Canada. It was like separate worlds back in Europe and here in Canada, so now it’s going to go together and I’m going to be able to see my family for two weeks straight and they’re going to see how it works here, how everything looks like. I’m not going to have to describe to them what I’m doing because they’re going to know, they’re going to see what’s going on here. That’s going to be really, really helpful and I am so excited to see them soon and I hope they will enjoy me staying here.”

Macias is no stranger to playing hockey in a foreign country. The 19-year-old played five years in Czechia for both HC Poruba and HV Vitkovice starting in the 2017-18 season.

Agnieszka says she was ecstatic when she heard the news that Krzysztof would get the opportunity to play in North America.

“This is what we dreamt about, but we always knew that it would be hard. When he was in the Czech Republic, we always repeated to him that he must be better than Czech players. Otherwise, they would always choose a Czech player, so he had to prove it. When we learned that somebody wanted him here in Canada, it was wow. When it comes to me, I wanted to believe, but still, it was a surprise.”

According to Polish Puck, Macias passed Marcin Kolusz for most points in the WHL by a Polish-born player when he picked up an assist on an Oli Chenier goal in Moose Jaw back on Jan. 5.

Having a successful season so far and helping a Raiders team in the middle of a playoff chase in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, Krzysztof says he is hopeful that his performance in the WHL ranks opens the door for more Polish born players moving forward.

“I would love to see more Polish hockey players to play here and develop here. It’s going to be hard because we’re not so well known like Czechia or other European states. I think the Polish national team is doing a good job too. We’re playing in the top division this year in the World Championship. I hope they will show some power, they will put Poland on the hockey map and it’s only going to go up with Polish hockey.”

Time zones have provided a challenge for the Macias family. With Nowy Targ being seven hours ahead of Saskatchewan Time, they are no strangers to watching Krzysztof in the wee hours of the morning.

Agnieszka says she questioned the start time of the games at first, but has gotten used to the early alarm to watch her son play.

“Why do they play hockey at 2 a.m. in Canada?” she says. “This is the time when I have to wake up. My alarm clock is set at 1:58 (a.m.). I wake up and run down to watch Krzysztof. My husband does it regularly. It’s incredible. I also play hockey, even my teammates wake up in the middle of the night and watch him. It’s incredible.”

The Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert is known across the WHL for having one of the most intimidating atmospheres, despite the building only holding 3,366 fans with standing room, one of the lowest capacities in the league.

Agnieszka says they have enjoyed witnessing the Raiders play live in person because of the energy the fans in Hockeytown North bring to the experience.

“I think it’s great. Many people are complaining that it’s a bit old, but I think it has (a) great atmosphere. The vibe here is nice. I was shown around by some people from the club, and it’s wonderful. The ice itself is much smaller than in Poland, which is surprising. Maybe not surprising because I had known about it earlier, it looks much smaller. I like it very much.”

In the three games the Macias family have witnessed in person so far, the Raiders have gone 2-1 including a pair of wins at the Art Hauser Centre against the Medicine Hat Tigers and Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Agnieszka says there is one more thing she is hoping for before their trip to Canada concludes.

“I just hope my son will score. A goal for mommy as I used to say always so I’m still waiting for that.”

First Time Billets

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Krzysztof Macias (centre) poses for a photo with his billet parents Rob and Terrie Lindsay.

For the Lindsay family, Krzysztof Macias is the first Raider billet they’ve welcomed into their home.

Rob and Terrie Lindsay have been involved with the Raiders in other means for many years. Terrie has been involved previously in the box office, ticket collection and team store amongst other duties in recent years while Rob has served as the team’s long time public address announcer at the Art Hauser Centre.

“We’re both very heavily involved and this year we decided to take the challenge and have a billet come stay with us.” Rob Lindsay says. “We were so lucky to get the young lad from Nowy Targ, Poland: Krzyzstof Macias.”

Krzysztof didn’t waste any time in getting his billet dad to announce his name in the WHL. In his first game, Macias deposited his first North American goal in the third period of a 5-0 Raider win over the Moose Jaw Warriors back on September 22.

Lindsay says it was a special moment to announce the goal of a billet son for the first time.

“I’m not going to lie about that. When he scored on opening night, I was absolutely pumped. My pulse rate was through the roof.”

The two families are in constant communication thanks to technology. Agnieszka is an English teacher in Poland teaching students primarily between the ages of 15 to 19. Lindsay says not having the language barrier has made it very easy to have conversations via messages or voice calls.

“We message back and forth. We had the other little video chat, or Zoom chat once in a while, where we could actually hear her voice, or she could hear ours too. We messaged quite a bit through WhatsApp. We understand the time change. There are times when I’m working overnight, night shift, and I know it’s 10 a.m. in Poland, so we’ll message back and forth. I’ll send her photos, she’ll send me photos, she’ll ask me questions, I’ll ask her questions. Mom (Agnieszka) is a very, very good communicator.”

Despite first meeting the Lindsay family in person just last week, Agnieszka says she feels a close connection with them because of what they have done for her son in Prince Albert.

“It’s awesome and it’s something I must mention that I feel really close to them. Terrie was laughing that Krzysztof often compares her to me. In fact, we have so much in common. I’m really thankful to them because they treat our son like their own one.”

Krzysztof says he has enjoyed his time in Prince Albert with the Lindsay family and hopes to stay in touch with them long after his junior hockey career comes to a close.

“They’re helping me all the time. I’m very grateful that I could be billeted there, because they are helping me every time I need it. They are there for me every time I need them, so I’m very glad I came to that place, to this family, and as they said, I’m part of the family now, so I am happy, and I hope my relationship with them is going to last a very, very long time.”

The Macias family will be in attendance on Friday as the Raiders hit the road to take on the archrival Saskatoon Blades at the SaskTel Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.