Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sparta wins last game before Spengler Cup

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Tipsport Extraliga played its lone round of game sandwiched between the breaks for the Channel One Cup and Christmas.

Yorick Treille (7) and David Vyborný (9)
congratulate goaltender Tomáš Pöpperle after
Sparta's win over Kometa Brno. Photo: Jan
One game went Tuesday, with Sparta Praha winning 3-2 on home ice against Kometa Brno. They were aided by two assists from defenceman Doug O'Brien of St. John's, NL. In the first period, he set up Yorick Treille, who fired a rocket over Kometa goaltender Sasu Hovi's right shoulder to give Sparta a 1-0 lead. Treille, who was born in France, played for the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior League and then in the NCAA with U.Mass-Lowell. He recently signed a contract extension to remain with Sparta through the 2012-13 season.

In the third period, after the team killed off a two-man disadvantage lasting nearly a minute, O'Brien assisted on the eventual winning goal when he found Michal Broš at the side of the net on a power play to give Sparta a 3-1 lead. Roman Erat cut the lead to 3-2 in the late going, but it wasn't enough.

For Sparta, it was their final game before going to the Spengler Cup, which begins December 26 in Davos, Switzerland. They will play in a group with Genf Servette of Switzerland and SKA St. Petersburg of Russia, whose lineup includes Alexei Yashin and Maxim Afinogenov.

"The Spengler Cup's broadcast on Canadian TV, so friends will get a chance to watch it," commented O'Brien. "That's the closest I'll get to being home (for Christmas)."

Unfortunately for O'Brien, neither of Sparta's round-robin games on December 27 and 28 will be televised in Canada, but all teams advance to the quarter-finals, at which point all games will be on either TSN or TSN2. The first place team in each group advances directly to the semi-finals.

In the Czech Republic, all tournament games can be seen in Czech on Eurosport 2.

On Wednesday, the other 12 Extraliga teams were in action.

St. John's NL's other Extraliga player, John Slaney, picked up a goal and two assists but it wasn't enough as Plzeň 1929 fell 6-4 on the road against Vítkovice Steel. Plzeň now trails Benzina Litvínov by 11 points for the 10th and final playoff spot. The win gives Vítkovice sole possession of first place in the league, as Oceláři Třinec fell 3-2 at PSG Zlín.

Most Extraliga teams return to the ice for the next round of games on Sunday.

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