Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mrázek and Polášek barred from Czech WJC roster

Petr Mrázek (top) and Adam Polášek, playing for Ottawa and PEI,
Playing in a group with Canada, Russia, and Sweden, the Czech Republic was thought to be in tough to make the quarter-finals at the upcoming World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY. Now, with two of their top prospects being excluded from their roster, their challenge just became more difficult.

Expected starting goaltender Petr Mrázek of the Ottawa 67s and defenceman Adam Polášek of the PEI Rocket have both been barred from participating on the team by the Czech Ice Hockey Association after protests from HC Vítkovice Steel over their unauthorized departures to Canada in 2009.

Both players played for the club's junior team before bolting to the OHL and QMJHL, respectively, over a year ago. Without a transfer agreement, Vítkovice was not compensated financially and therefore claims to own the playing rights to both players. As such, they must release the players to allow them to compete internationally, which they refused to do for last year's tournament in Ottawa and are refusing to do again. The ČSLH was hopeful that a compromise could be reached and Vítkovice would waive its objection, but it didn't happen.

Mrázek currently has a 15-7-1 record in Ottawa with a 2.87 GAA and a .919 save percentage. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Polášek was also taken in the fifth round in this year's draft, four picks later by the Vancouver Canucks. The defenceman had 41 points in 66 games last year, and has 12 in 25 games so far this year. They were two of only four drafted players on the Czech Republic's current 28-man roster and were expected to be top players on the team if allowed to play.

In their places, coach Miroslav Přerost has named goaltender Tadeáš Galanský of the OHL's Saginaw Spirit and defenceman Bohumil Jank of HC Mountfield České Budějovice. Galanský, who will turn 18 during the tournament, is a backup goaltender in Saginaw and will probably end up as the third-stringer behind Marek Mazanec of HC Plzeň 1929 and Filip Novotný of HC Sparta Praha. As the 10th defenceman added to the roster, Jank will hope to earn a depth spot in the team's pre-tournament camp in Michigan and New York.

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