By Cassie Gage, OKC Barons on 10/10/2013

Martin Gernat is the new kid in Oklahoma City, but he isn’t alone. Gernat’s good fortune reunited the Kosice, Slovakia native with not only a countryman, but someone from his same hometown in defenseman Martin Marincin.

Gernat is still adjusting to life as a professional hockey player, but is excited about the future ahead. He logged ice time in the Barons’ season-opening loss to the Charlotte Checkers and hopes to earn a permanent spot on the Oklahoma City lineup card.

“It’s been nice so far,” Gernat said of living in the American Midwest. “It’s been a little bit hard because we are still living in a hotel. It’s my third month almost at the hotel.  Hopefully, I can get an apartment soon and make my spot on the team. I had an opportunity to play in the season-opening game, and that was a nice experience for me. Hopefully, it’ll get better and better.”

Gernat, a fifth round selection of the Oilers in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, spent the last two years with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Playing so far from home with a fellow countryman is an added bonus for the rookie.

“It’s nice having him here,” Gernat said of Marincin. “We are similar defensemen. We know the same language. It’s easy for us to talk. If we don’t understand something, we have someone else we can ask. It’s easier that way.”

Gernat and Marincin, who look almost like twins, represented Slovakia at the 2012 World Junior Championships. That experience, combined with their familiarity with each other, is something Gernat hopes pays dividends in Oklahoma City.

“I have to work on being stronger,” Gernat said. “This is a professional league and all of the guys are stronger, and I just came from juniors, so I have to improve. I also have to work on my defense zone play,too. I have to be stronger in front of the net and in the corners. I have to bring something to the game and make that first pass.”

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