Friday, December 20, 2013

Kovář out-duels Koskinen, leads Czechs to victory at home

Written for

On home ice, the Czech Republic prevailed 2-0 over Finland in the opening game for both teams in the Channel One Cup. In a duel between Finn Mikko Koskinen and Czech Jakub Kovář, veteran Petr Nedvěd was the only player to beat either one of them, with a power-play marker late in the second period.

Petr Nedvěd was the only player to score on one of the two
goalies at O2 Arena on Thursday. Photo:
"We had some opportunities early in the game but we didn't play the power play well," Nedvěd began, referring to the fact that his team had the first three power plays of the game -- including a two-man advantage for 1:04 in the first three minutes of the game -- but it remained scoreless. 

"For a goalie, that's a good way to start," said Koskinen, who got into the game early with several shots, but nothing too difficult. "I saw most of the shots -- it was pretty easy that way."

Exactly how many shots Koskinen or Kovář faced remains a mystery, as no totals were announced in the arena or published anywhere officially afterward -- quite possibly they weren't counted -- but the Czechs had a clear advantage in the first period, less so in the second period as the Finns got some chances, and then the final period was all Finland -- and Kovář.

After going 0 for 3 on first period power plays, the Czechs got their one and only advantage of the second period late, when Mikko Mäenpää went off for holding -- a call he wasn't impressed with on the ice but showed restraint when questioned about it afterward.

"It's the kind of play that happens 25 times in a game and I got a penalty for it," he sighed. "I can't really say anything about it. They scored a nice goal. That's what happens. There's nothing we can do about it anymore."

Nedvěd and Roman Červenka, two of the more talented forwards on this Czech team who showed great chemistry together all night, were finally able to manufacture a goal with some nice passing and an absolute rocket of a wrist shot from Nedvěd from the hash marks near the right-wing boards that beat Koskinen high to the glove side.

"I got to the spot where I like it and it was a wrist shot," Nedvěd described. "(Koskinen)'s a big goalie and he played really well today. He stopped a lot of the high shots but this one I held it, held it and he went down a little bit and I fired it upstairs."

Koskinen's description is similar, in that he made the first move which gave Nedvěd the opening: "It was a good shot but I didn't give myself the best chance to save it so I'm a little pissed off at myself right now."

Whereas the Czechs got the bulk of the power play in first two periods, the tables turned in the third. Finland had all three power plays in the third period, including a two-man advantage for 1:12 in the early going. Like the Czechs, they didn't cash in, but they came oh-so-close.

The third period belonged to Kovář, and with his team down two men he put his exclamation point on the game. The Finns moved the puck around the perimeter, and defencemen Petteri Nummelin and Anssi Salmela both shot from the point. After the second one, the Czech goalie was down and out with Janne Pesonen on the doorstep staring at a yawning cage, but out came Kovář's left pad to make a save that must have seemed like an optical ellusion to a lot of the 13 096 in attendance. Even Pesonen stood there with a dumbfounded look on his face. He had had the tying goal on his stick.

"Every goalie feels better when he gets lots of shots," a jovial Kovář said afterward, echoing the sentiments of Koskinen, but doing his best to deflect credit away from himself.

Head coach Alois Hadamczik was less restrained in his praise, though: "He was as clutch as Hašek in Nagano," raved the coach who will ultimately decide who to take to these upcoming Olympics. 

"We had lots of chances and I've gotta say that their goalie played a pretty good game," said Mäenpää, who was on the point a lot in the third period on the power play, and got a few shots through to Kovář. "I don't know, when you get those kinds of chances, you just have to have more of a killer instinct and get in there when the chances come. Maybe we were too soft today, but again, I have to give credit to their goalie."

With about eight minutes to play, there was another flurry in Kovář's crease, but he stopped the first shot, then the rebound while down on the ice. 

"When it was 1-0, we had some good scoring chances, especially five-on-three, but we just couldn't score," said Finnish coach Erkka Westerlund, who couldn't find much fault in his team's game, despite the loss. "I think the offence and defence were quite even between the two teams and both goalies were very, very good." 

Westerlund called his timeout with 1:43 left and pulled Koskinen for a sixth attacker, but that allowed Jaroslav Hlinka to fire a shot from right in front of his own net, all the way down into the unguarded net to make it a 2-0 final.

The buzz around the arena at the end of the game was that Kovář had played his way onto the Olympic roster, if his spot there wasn't already assured. But what about others?

"Everyone on the team would like to go to the Olympics," concluded Nedvěd, who won a silver medal with Canada in 1994. "There isn't enough room for everybody here, though. We all know that most of the players will come from the NHL, but some players from Europe will go, for sure. That'll be the coaches' decision."

In the meantime, both teams now head to Sochi, where they will play Sweden and Russia this weekend. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Czech national junior team named, heads to Malmö

The 25-man roster has been set by Miroslav Přerost and his coaching staff -- 17 European-based players and eight from the CHL make up the Czech team that will head to the World Junior Championship, which starts December 26 in Malmö, Sweden.

Victoriaville Tigres captain Petr Šidlík will fulfill the same role for
Team Czech Republic at the upcoming World Junior
Championship. Photo:
The high percentage of European-based players on the team compared to recent years has surprised many people, and leads some to believe that there may be a resurgence of home-grown Czech talent. Přerost explained to that his decisions were made based on the players' performances at a recently-completed training camp in Rokycany.

"We had all the players for five or six days in camp, and the performance of the players from overseas were comparable with those of the local clubs. In certain respects, maybe even a little worse. It turns out that many players have made progress playing in the Czech Extraliga, so we decided to give them priority over before those from the Canadian junior leagues."

Furthermore, he explained: "The World Championship will be played on European-sized ice, and that also factored into our decision."

Here is the 25-man roster:

Goaltenders: Daniel Dolejš (HC Vítkovice Steel), Marek Langhamer (Medicine Hat, WHL), Dominik Hrachovina (Tappara Tampere, Finland).
Defencemen: Jan Štencel (HC Vítkovice Steel), Libor Šulák (Piráti Chomutov), Ronald Knot (HC Slavia Praha), Patrik Marcel (HC Škoda Plzeň), Jan Košťálek (Rimouski, QMJHL), Michal Plutnar (Tri-City, WHL), Petr Šidlík (Victoriaville, QMJHL), David Němeček (Saskatoon, WHL).
Forwards: Dominik Simon, Martin Procházka (both HC Sparta Praha), Ondřej Kaše, David Kämpf (both Piráti Chomutov), David Pastrňák (Södertälje, Sweden), Jakub Vrána (Linköping, Sweden), Pavel Zacha (Bílí Tygři Liberec), Richard Nejezchleb (Brandon, WHL), Dominik Volek (Red Deer, WHL), Radek Faksa (Kitchener, OHL), Vojtěch Tomeček, Jiří Fronk (both HC Energie Karlovy Vary), Patrik Machač (Rytíři Kladno), Pavel Sedláček (PSG Zlín).
The captain of the team is defenceman Petr Šidlík, one of five returnees from last year's squad in Ufa. Šidlík has played on Czech national teams for years and has really developed his physical game over the past few seasons. When asked about his style of leadership, he explained, "I'm not the type that storms into the dressing room and yells and screams. I want to lead by example on the ice."

"This year we don't have players like Hertl, Dima Jaškin, Sedlák and others that we had last year, but I believe that we can do well," he said, when asked of the team he will be leading. "We have to play as a team, and our hockey should be based on character and hard work." has compiled a list of which players have represented the Czech Republic at recent U20 and U18 World Championships, with Radek Faksa of the Kitchener Rangers being the only one to return to the World Juniors for a third go around:

U20 2013: Šidlík, Štencel, Vrána, Faksa, Tomeček
U20 2012: Faksa
U18 2013: Košťálek, Štencel, Němeček, Zacha, Pastrňák, Vrána, Kämpf, Kaše, Zdráhal
U18 2012: Langhamer, Hrachovina, Šidlík, Košťálek, Knot, Šulák, Štencel, Machač, Volek, Sedláček, Vrána, Procházka, Simon, Tomeček.
U18 2011: Šidlík, Faksa 
The team travels to southern Sweden today, and will play a pair of pre-tournament games before things begin for real next Thursday.

Pre-tournament schedule leading up to the World Junior Championship:
Dec 21: exhibition game vs Switzerland (Lund, 6pm)
Dec 23: exhibition game vs Norway (Landskrona, 6pm)
Group stage schedule at the World Junior Championship (all games in Malmö):
Dec 26: vs USA (5:30pm, ČT Sport)
Dec 28: vs Canada (5:30pm, ČT Sport)
Dec 30: vs Germany (1:30pm
, ČT Sport)Dec 31: vs Slovakia (1:30pm, ČT Sport)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

25 Czech Olympic hopefuls hit the ice in Prague Thursday, then on to Sochi

Along with players from the nine other European countries that will be sending team's to the men's hockey tournament at the Winter Olympics, this weekend's international break represents the last chance Czechs based in Europe will have a chance to play together for Alois Hadamczik and his national team coaching staff and try to earn a coveted roster spot.

Roman Červenka is looking to make a return
trip to the Winter Olympics.
What makes this weekend's Channel One Cup so competitive for the Czechs and the other three countries there is that they are not only competing against each other, but also against numerous players who are currently in the NHL. How many spots are available to European-based players is tough to say, but they will be limited.

"There are a lot of quality players, both here in Europe and overseas," Jiří Novotný  told's Karolina Antošová. An experienced international player who has twice captained the Czech team at the World Championships, Novotný was asked his chances of making the Olympic squad, to which he responded: "I think everyone on the roster has a chance. Maybe I'll know more after this tournament."

The roster of 25 players, which Novotný was referring to, contains a lot of familiar names:

Goaltenders: Alexandr Salák (St Petersburg, KHL), Jakub Kovář (Yekaterinburg, KHL). 
Defencemen: Petr Čáslava (Cherepovets, KHL), Ondřej Němec, Martin Ševc (both Lev Praha, KHL), Tomáš Kaberle (Rytíři Kladno), Lukáš Krajíček (Dinamo Minsk, KHL), Tomáš Mojžíš (Slovan Bratislava, KHL), Michal Barinka (HC Vítkovice Steel), Petr Zámorský (PSG Zlín). 
Forwards: Roman Červenka (St Petersburg, KHL), Jan Kovář (Magnitogorsk, KHL), Tomáš Vincour (Kazan, KHL), Jiří Novotný, Jiří Sekáč (both Lev Praha, KHL), Zbyněk Irgl (Dinamo Minsk, KHL), Michal Vondrka (Slovan Bratislava, KHL), Petr Nedvěd (Bílí Tygři Liberec), Jaroslav Hlinka, Jan Buchtele (both HC Sparta Praha), Jiří Šimánek (Mountfield Hradec Králové), Robert Kousal, Tomáš Nosek, Lukáš Radil (all HC ČSOB Pojišťovna Pardubice).
There's an abundance of international experience on that list, but only three have Olympic experience. Tomáš Kaberle has played twice -- 2002 in Salt Lake City and 2006 in Turin, and two others have played once: Roman Červenka played for the Czechs in Vancouver four years ago and, incredibly, Petr Nedvěd played for Canada in Lillehammer 20 years ago.

Of the three, Červenka probably has the best chance of returning. In 2010 he was a 24-year-old centre in the midst of scoring 30 goals in 50 Czech Extraliga games. Four years later, following a couple of productive years in the KHL and a brief stint in the NHL before a return to the wider KHL ice, where he has more success, he has 29 points in 37 games as a play-making winger. His flexibility should work to his advantage.

"Over the last four years I have played various roles, so it won't be major problem," Červenka said to, when the topic about where he could fit in with the team was brought up. As with most players, though, he wanted to talk more about this weekend. "Everyone knows that the team will be named soon, but if you start thinking that if you don't play well in this tournament you're not going to Sochi, you can really mess yourself up."

Like the Olympic tournament itself, the majority of the Channel One Cup will be played in Sochi, Russia, but one game between the Czech Republic and Finland will be played at O2 Arena in Prague, which will give Czech hockey fans a chance to see Olympic hopefuls from the two countries. 

"A lot of people will come to Prague to watch us, and we want to win for them," Červenka added.

The Czechs will go with three forward lines and seven defencemen for Thursday's game against Finland, with Jakub Kovař starting in goal. Both he and Alexandr Salák are expected to get in games this weekend. While Ondřej Pavelec is expected to be the Czech starting goalie in the Olympics, the door is open for one of these two, or possibly both, to make the roster as a number two or number three. Kovař isn't admitting to any pressure, though. 

"From my own experience, I know that too much does not depend on one game," Thursday's starting goalie coolly explained. "I've been on the national team a few times before. The Olympics are obviously something else, but one game or one goal against won't decide it for me. I'll wait til I'm notified by the coaches." 

Winger Zbyněk Irgl will not play on Thursday due to a lower-body injury, but might play on the weekend in Sochi. Kaberle will only play in Prague, then fly overseas to be with his family. According to, the Czech Republic's roster on Thursday will be the following:

Jakub Kovář, Salák - Kaberle, Ševc, Krajíček, Barinka, Němec, Čáslava, Zámorský, Mojžíš - Nedvěd, Hlinka, Červenka - Sekáč, Jan Kovář, Vondrka - Vincour, Novotný, Šimánek - Buchtele, Kousal, Nosek.
Schedule for the 2013 Channel One Cup:
Thursday, December 19:
16:00 Russia - Sweden (Sochi)
18:30 Czech Republic - Finland (O2 Arena, Prague)
Saturday, December 21:
11:00 Russia - Finland (Sochi)
16:00 Czech Republic - Sweden (Sochi) 
Sunday, December 22:
11:00 Russia - Czech Republic (Sochi)
16:00 Finland - Sweden (Sochi)
All times Central European. Live play-by-play commentary of all games will be available at

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Out with the old, in with the new: Czech teams to play for Masaryk Cup

Written for, with information from Václav Jáchim of

The world of hockey has the Stanley Cup, the Gagarin Cup, and now the Masaryk Cup.

The new championship trophy of the Czech Extraliga was unveiled to the media on Wednesday at the Clarion Hotel in Prague. Upon first glance, it was apparent that both the name and the appearance of the trophy were an enormous step up from it's predecessor.

Radek Bonk of Třinec awkwardly lifts the old, nameless trophy in
2011. Photo:
To begin with, the old trophy didn't really have a name. It was just casually referred to as "pohár mistrů" (champions' cup), and its appearance was equally as generic. Looking like something in the display window of a trophy shop, except much larger, it was awkward to hoist and prone to disaster. The championship teams of Pardubice damaged it in both 2005 and 2010 -- the first time it needed to be replaced altogether, while the club had to pay to have the second one repaired.

"It might sound funny now, but at the time it was not funny at all," APK president Tomáš Král said about the cup's problems. But while stories of early misadventures are now part of the lore of the Stanley Cup, the sport of hockey's most recognizable piece of hardware, The Extraliga's biggest prize seemed to receive nothing but scorn and ridicule. Finally, league owners decided that their teams should compete for a symbol that commanded both reverence and respect, both in appearance and in name.

"We considered several proposals, we took into account aesthetics, dimensions and other criteria," said Král about what the finished product should look like.

The Masaryk Cup. Photo:
The winning proposal was submitted by studio Artcore, and was built by Golfface, both Czech companies. It stands 73.8 cm tall and weighs approximately 15 kg. The main part is lightweight silver casing with gold plating and a stainless steel base. On the base, names of all future championship teams and players will be engraved year to year, much like the Stanley Cup.

Also like the Stanley Cup, the name has meaning to the roots of the sport in the country it represents as well. Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley of Preston was the Governor General of Canada, Queen Victoria's representative in the young dominion. The new Czech cup goes beyond that, to Czechoslovakia's first head of state.

"When searching for a name we were thinking about multiple personalities, inspired from abroad, and eventually decided on the TG Masaryk Cup."

Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was the first president of Czechoslovakia, presiding from 1918 to 1935 and is one of the most respected figures in the nation's history. He is also connected to some significant Czech hockey firsts as well, donating the first domestic championship trophy in 1924 and presenting the winning team to the gold medalists at the 1933 World Championships in Prague. Lord Stanley's sons were big hockey fans and so were Masaryk's -- his son Herbert even played for HC Slavia Praha.

The new trophy will tour around the country during the 2013-14 season, appearing at a game in every Extraliga arena starting with the first game of the season on Thursday, when defending champion Plzeň hosts Vítkovice. Plzeň, of course, was the last winner of the old trophy, which will now be retired to the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame, which is scheduled to open in time for the 2015 World Championships.

"I think we've done it," Král happily declared. "I believe that the Masaryk Cup will be a worthy prize for a champion, and that it will give them their proper due."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Martin Růžička: European Player of the Month for October.


At the first international break, the Czech Extraliga's leading scorer is not Kladno's Jaromír Jágr or Tomáš Plekanec, despite the fine and high-profile tour they've made around the country, filing arenas everywhere they go, nor is it any of the many other locked NHLers who have flocked to the league. It is Oceláři Třineč's Martin Růžička, who has 36 points in 19 games and racked up an amazing total of 20 points in 10 games in the month of October. He did so in relative obscurity, tucked away in a small industrial town on the Polish border.

Photo: NČR PRESS/Lenka Rybaříková.
Far away, in the capital city of Prague, mention hockey and the name Růžička nearly everybody will think of Vladimír, former star player and now coach of Slavia. Even the name Martin Růžička might lead to some confusion, as the starting goaltender in Pardubice has the exact same name. Yet the career that Martin Růžička the forward has made for himself since arriving in Třinec as a 24-year-old in 2009 is impressive.

To that point, he had bounced between four different clubs in the Extraliga and I.liga, never recording more than 18 points in a season and failing to distinguish himself as top-line player. However, in the 2009-10 season, he recorded 47 points in 50 games, which was enough to earn him a spot on that year's gold-medal winning Czech team at the World Championship.

He followed that up with 50 more points the next year, but he that was just a precursor to the playoff he would have. There, he shattered the league playoff scoring record, recording 33 points in 18 games, leading Oceláři to their first, and so far only, national championship.

After a year with Amur Khabarovsk of the KHL, he's back in Třinec this season, and what a season it's been so far. He has failed to register a point in only two of the 19 games he has played. His most dominant performance came October 5, when he was in on all 5 of the game's goals in his team's 5-0 shutout victory over visiting Česke Budějovice, thanks to a hat trick and 2 assists. He finished his amazing month with a 4-point effort against local rival Vítkovice on October 28.

Apparently, a month like that will get you attention no matter where you play -- not only national but all across Europe. readers voted him Europe's best hockey player for the month of October. Not only was he competing against Jágr and Plekanec for that honour, but other names like Henrik Zetterberg, Alexander RadulovIlya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin.

Unfortunately, European hockey fans won't get the chance to see him in action this week at the Karjala Cup -- he's being kept out with back trouble. However, it seems to be only precautionary, and he's expected to be back in the lineup when Třinec returns to the ice next week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A lot of factors to consider when building Karjala roster

When Europe's top four hockey nations released their roster last week for the Karjala Cup, the first leg of this year's Euro Hockey Tour, there was a lot of head-scratching among observers. With the surplus of bona fide talent playing in Europe right now, some were anticipating an all-star tournament of sorts in Finland that might include the likes of Jaromíř Jágr, Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik Zetterberg and others. But while some locked out NHLers were chosen to represent Finland, Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic, the teams have mostly been made up of players committed to Europe for the full season.

Tomáš Hertl might get a shot at the World Championship this 
year if NHLers are unavailable. Photo:
The announcement of a roster without Jágr, David Krejči, Aleš Hemský and Tomáš Vokoun was especially disappointing to hockey fans in Liberec, who were hoping to see an all-star cast assemble this Thursday when the Czech Republic hosts Sweden to open the tournament. In fact, the Czech Republic could have built an entire team based completely on NHLers now playing in the Czech Extraliga and KHL.

"Of course, if Jarda Jágr plays, the fans will come," said Czech national team coach Alois Hadamczik. "But for me it can be rather annoying; if the NHL starts, we're going to the World Championships with only players in Europe."

Indeed, he's probably right. Of course, everyone remembers the last NHL lockout, the one that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season and left virtually all players free to compete in that year's World Championship. The Czech Republic, with an all-star cast that included Jágr and Vokoun, won the gold medal with a 3-0 victory over Canada in the final.

However, fewer people remember the tournament in 1995. That year, when a lockout forced the NHL to begin a 48-game schedule in mid January that finished in early May, no NHL players were free to compete in the World Championship. That year, the Czech Republic, with a roster composed entirely of Extraliga players, finished 4th, losing the bronze medal game to a Canadian team composed of players from the AHL, IHL and European leagues. If the scenario of 1995 repeats itself, which seems like a very good possibility at this point, Hadamczik has to create a team of players in Europe, and he wants to get potential players ready to play during the Euro Hockey Tour.

Balancing the possibilities between NHLers and domestics, his roster for the Karjala Cup includes both: Ondrej Pavelec, Marek Židlický, Ladislav Šmíd, Tomáš Plekanec, and Jiří Tlustý will be there (although Židlický and Plekanec will only play in Liberec), but so will young charges Jakub Krejčík, Jakub Svoboda and Tomáš Hertl.

Under normal circumstances, Hertl would probably be at the U20 tournament, which will run concurrently in Sweden in preparation for this year's World Junior Championship, but since an all-European-based Czech team at the Worlds would almost certainly include Hertl, it's important to get him playing time with the big boys.

Even with a few big names missing, there are still plenty of players to follow at the Karjala Cup, however. Most games will be televised in the Czech Replublic on ČT Sport and live text coverage will be available in English at From, below is the Czech roster, their lineup for the first game against Sweden (Wednesday at 18:00 CET) and the tournament schedule.

Czech roster for the Karjala Cup (November 7 - 10, Turku, Finland and Liberec):


Ondřej Pavelec
 (Bílí Tygři Liberec), Alexandr Salák (Färjestad, Sweden).


Marek Židlický
 (Rytíři Kladno), Ladislav Šmíd (Bílí Tygři Liberec), Petr Čáslava (Cherepovets, KHL), Jakub Nakládal (Spartak Moscow, KHL), Filip Novák (Dynamo Moscow, KHL), Jakub Kindl (HC ČSOB Pojišťovna Pardubice), Jakub Krejčík (HC Lev Praha, KHL), Lukáš Galvas (HC Oceláři Třinec).


Tomáš Plekanec, Jiří Tlustý
 (both Rytíři Kladno), Petr Nedvěd (Bílí Tygři Liberec), Jiří Novotný (HC Lev Praha, KHL), Zbyněk Irgl (Dynamo Minsk, KHL), Michal Vondrka (Slovan Bratislava, KHL), Jakub Petružálek (Khabarovsk, KHL), Petr Koukal (Nizhnekamsk, KHL), Petr Hubáček (Jyväskylä, Finland), Jan Kovář (HC Škoda Plzeň), Jakub Svoboda (HC Kometa Brno), Tomáš Hertl (HC Slavia Praha), Lukáš Pech (HC Energie Karlovy Vary).

General Manager: Slavomír Lener
Head Coach: Alois Hadamczik
Assistant Coach: Josef Paleček
Assistant & Video Coach: Jan Procházka
Team Manager: Jan Černý
Team Doctor: Dr. Zdeněk Ziegelbauer
Physiotherapist: Michal Truc
Equipment Manager: Zdeněk Šmíd
Trainer: Petr Ondráček

Announced lineup (and line combinations) vs Sweden in Liberec:

Salák (Pavelec) - Židlický, Šmíd, Novák, Čáslava, Kindl, Nakládal, Krejčík, Galvas - Nedvěd, Plekanec, Tlustý - Petružálek, Koukal, Vondrka - Irgl, Novotný, Hubáček - Hertl, Kovář, Svoboda (Pech).

2012 Karjala Cup schedule:

Wednesday, November 7:

17:30 Finland - Russia (Turku)
18:00 Czech Republic - Sweden (Liberec)

Friday, November 9:

14:00 Sweden - Russia (Turku)
17:30 Finland - Czech Republic (Turku)

Saturday, November 10:

12:00 Czech Republic - Russia (Turku)
16:00 Finland - Sweden (Turku)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Czech hockey online in English

For the past six weeks, hockey-starved NHL fans have had to depend largely on hockey from Europe to get their fix. While a few games have been on in the United States and the United Kingdom on various ESPN platforms, most have had to search for internet streams with foreign-language broadcasts. These fans should be glad to know that live text commentary will now be available for many games in the Czech Extraliga and KHL.

Left to right: Marek Židlický, Tomáš Kaberle and Tomáš Plekanec
lead Kladno against Brno Tuesday. Josef Poláček,
All Czech hockey fans are familiar with the site, which provides online text coverage of every Czech Extraliga game, as well as in lower men's leagues and top junior leagues. In the past couple of years they have also periodically provided English commentary to international events in the Czech Republic, such last last season's U18 World Championship in Brno, Znojmo and Břeclav.

In the past year and a half, I have covered several international events for the site's English version, called Highlights include the 2011 IIHF Inline championship game in Pardubice and the 2012 U18 Women's championship game in Zlín. Typing events from a hockey game as they happen in rapid succession in a coherent manner takes some getting used to, and at first was a bit stressful, but I've gotten used to it.

Tonight, I will cover a professional hockey game in this manner for the first time: Rytíři Kladno vs Kometa Brno. For the third time this season, Kladno will play a home game at O2 Arena in Prague, the largest venue for hockey in the country. Both previous games drew over 15,000 fans and even more are expected this time. The increased interest in watching Kladno play is, of course, due to the NHL lockout and the subsequent arrival of club owner Jaromír Jágr and several other superstars to the team.

In what will surely be a disappointment to all those who have bought tickets, Jágr will not be in the Kladno lineup tonight, sitting out his second straight game with a yet-to-be-specified lower-body injury (though he says it's not the groin, which has given him trouble in the past). However, familiar names such as Marek Židlický, Tomáš Kaberle, Jan Hlaváč and Tomáš Plekanec will be. For Kometa, non-Czechs might know the names Miloslav Hořava and Róbert Petrovický, who both played in the NHL. The game is important for the league standings, as Brno is in 2nd place with 27 points, one ahead of Kladno.

Zdeno Chára and Alexander Radulov face
each other in KHL action on Thursday.
Photo: Jan Rachota,
Tuesday's game is actually the second that Eurolivecores has done in the Extraliga; on Sunday, Bill Meltzer of provided commentary for Liberec-Kladno.

Coming up on Thursday, I return to O2 Arena to begin KHL online coverage as Lev Praha hosts CSKA Moscow, a matchup that will feature Zdeno Chára against Pavel Datsyuk. It will be a rematch of last Thursday's meeting in Moscow, where Datsyuk's CSKA club triumped 3-0. As some readers might know, I write for Lev's English website, so I'll try my best not to be a homer. In addition to all Lev home games that I'll be on location for, myself and a team of other commentators will provide commentary of other select KHL games, either from the arena or remotely.

Tuesday's Kladno-Brno matchup begins at 18:15 CET, 12:15 ET. Thursday's Lev-CSKA battle begins at 19:00 CET, 1pm ET.