It has been just recently that a Traktor’s goalie was awarded weekly honors — Roman Will was the best in his role for the regular season’s sixteenth week. The Czech goalie has been instrumental for his team’s success and posted an incredible 46-save performance when Traktor downed the Hawks in a 3:1 road win on Dec 30.
However, that’s not his record, since a bit less than three months ago, on Oct 7, he had an incredible 51-save shutout to help Chelyabinsk getting away with a 2:0 win in Khabarovsk — it was the first time that he kept the opposition at “0” on the scoreboard for his fifth KHL career shutout. Will, who will turn 30 in May, is currently in third place in the saves percentage stat — only SKA’s Lars Johansson and Salavat Yulaev’s Juha Metsola did better than him so far, by a mere 0.1%, but they both played fewer minutes and games.
Roman Will was born on May 22, 1992, in Plzen — a town at about 60 miles west of Prague and one of the most populous cities in Czechia. Home to the local HC Plzen, the city produced several high-level performers at the KHL level, including goalie Pavel Francouz — also representing Traktor in the league — defenseman Jakub Jerabek, and large-framed blueliner Andrej Sustr.
As a youth, Will played with BK Mlada Boleslav and later made his debut as a pro in a Czech Extraliga relegation game in 2011. Will was then drafted 29th overall by the Moncton Wildcats in the 2011 CHL Import Draft and subsequently moved to North America for a season of major junior hockey with the Wildcats of the QMJHL in 2011–12. As the Wildcats starter, Will appeared in 63 games for 29 wins and was selected to the league’s First All-Star Team.
After being overlooked in the NHL Entry Draft, Will returned to Europe, signing back with BK Mlada Boleslav, now relegated to the Czech second league. He spent two years there, leading the league in saves percentage in his first season and finally winning a promotion back to the Extraliga in the second. He was resigned by his Czech side, but he was consequently inked by the Colorado Avalanche on May 2014 on a two-year, entry-level deal.
Will was initially assigned to the Avalanche’s AHL farm team, the Lake Erie Monsters. However, struggling to be a starter for the Monsters, Will was sent to the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. He was a star with the Komets, and was selected in the ECHL All-Rookie team. In the next season, Will played mostly with the Monsters again, but was recalled by the Avalanche in an emergency situation with the then-starter Semyon Varlamov. Will then made his NHL debut guarding the Avalanche crease for eighteen minutes in a 1:6 loss to the St. Jose Sharks. After his second season in North America, Will opted to return to Europe to seek more games as a starter.
On May 2016, Will inked a two-year deal in Czechia with HC Bili Tygri Liberec. With his new team, he was a standout and a star in the Extraliga, and was constantly in the top places in the saves percentage and goals-against average stats. In 2018-2019, he won Best goalie awards in the Czech Extraliga, also recording the most wins (32) and leading Liberec to the side’s second final in three years. Following the 2018-2019 campaign, Will left Czechia, and signed with the SHL side Rogle BK. Once again winning the competition to become the team’s starting netminder, collecting an impressive 23 wins in 34 regular-season games — Rogle finished in third place, a record for the franchise. Such a strong play couldn’t go unnoticed, and the Czech goalie was inked by Traktor of the KHL as the Chelyabinsk side was willing to strengthen its stance between the piping. After an impressive first season with Traktor, Will is playing even stronger in his second campaign. Currently Traktor and Will achieved four straight wins, and it looks like the Czech isn’t going to stop even after clinching a playoff spot.