by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
"Five foot two, eyes of blue,"
"But oh! what those five foot could do,"
"Has anybody seen my girl?"
These are the opening lines of the popular 1925 ditty "Has Anybody Seen My Gal?".
They are also befitting of Red Deer Queens hockey star Veronika Bucifalova, who standing 5-foot-2, has battled the odds in becoming a diminutive dynamo.
Born May 12, 1999 in the town of Susice in the Czech Republic, Bucifalova originally had her sights set on soccer.
"I actually wanted to play soccer but in my hometown they did not have soccer for girls," recalls Bucifalova, now 19 years-of-age. "It was not common when I was little for girls to play sports like boys."
Instead of playing "like the boys" she decided to "play with the boys" and became so efficient in ice hockey, that at the age of 13 she suited up for the HC Strakonice Under 18 for one game before moving back to the HC Plzen.
She would split the 2013-2014 campaign between the two teams with 10 goals and 11 assists in 12 games for the Under 18 side and 10 games with 20 goals and 4 assists fro HC Plzen.
The 2014-2015 season would be a busy one for Bucifalova, skating for HC Slavia Praha, HC Berounske Lvice and the Czech Republic Under 18 women's team.
She would be a member of the women's Under 18 national program until 2017, participating in four world championships with 20 games while recording two goals and an assist.
It was during one of those championships, held in Buffalo New York, that her talent was noticed.
What followed was the first step of her journey into achieving a lifelong dream.
"I had always wanted to come to Canada because it had the best hockey in the world. So when I was contacted by the Ontario Hockey Academy (Cornwall, Ontario,) I decided that I would give it a shot.
"I couldn't believe it at first. I contacted them back and wanted to see more details and then I thought, "Oh my God. This is actually real! Even on the flight over, I said that this is not happening, that this was just a dream.
"It was really hard at first but I always wanted to do this. If you have to do what you want to do, to follow your dream, if it even meant leaving friends and family behind...I knew I had to make the sacrifice."
At age 15, Bucifalova was now far away from home for her Grade 11 and Grade 12 years.
Bucifalova admits, "My English wasn't really that good."
She explains further: "Back home, I had to take English in middle school, so I knew the grammar. But it took me a month or two to start talking to people and at school it was hard to learn things in English.
"Plus it was a different style of hockey that I had to adapt to. Even different time difference, which was brutal the first two weeks".
Following graduation she headed back across the pond to play for the Neuchâtel Hockey Academy Dames in Neuchâtel NE , Switzerland, where in 17 games had four goals and an assists with 22 penalty minutes.
For the moment, her dream was placed back on hold.
"I was still hoping inside, that I would return to Canada. I did not want to leave my dream. I was in Switzerland to play hockey and make money, so I could go to (post-secondary) school. Somewhere inside I was skeptic in not coming back but instead going back to the Czech Republic and take my schooling there."
Instead the callout came from Red Deer College to become a member of the Queens hockey program for 2018-2019.
The Queens currently sport a record of two wins, four losses with nine goals for and 18 goals against. Bucifalova has five goals and three assists.
"My strong point is that I am one of the strongest players...being able to keep the puck on my stick and protect the puck even if I am not the fastest."