Friday, December 31, 2010

Pardubice wins big in last game before hosting Brno outdoors

With all the excitement of the World Junior Championships and the Spengler Cup, the Tipsport Extraliga has continued along in the week between Christmas and New Year's, with most teams playing three times in that span.

Martin Bartek and the rest of Eaton Pardubice had a relatively easy
time against Slavia Praha on Thursday. Photo: Martin Prokop,
The last day of play before the new year was Thursday, with a slate of five games. Highlighting it was a visit by Eaton Pardubice to O2 Arena in Prague, where they took on Slavia Praha. For Pardubice, it was the last game before the highly anticipated outdoor game, which will take place on Sunday against Kometa Brno at Pardubice-Svítkov Speedway.

If Slavia thought they would be able to catch their visitors distracted about the upcoming spectacle, they were dead wrong. Pardubice jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 11 minutes and cruised to a 5-1 victory. They were led by two goals and an assist from Martin Bartek and three assists from Radovan Somík.

The other participants in Sunday's outdoor contest, Kometa Brno, were also winners on Thursday, though they took home only two points, beating Vítkovice Steel 3-2 in a shootout.

Despite the loss, Vítkovice picked up a single point and still sits atop the Extraliga standings with 66 points and a four-point lead over Oceláři Třinec, who were idle, and Bílí Tigři Liberec, who beat BK Mladá Boleslav 3-2 in overtime. In fourth place is Pardubice with 59 points, followed by PSG Zlín with 57 and Kometa with 56. Zlín lost 4-0 in České Budějovice. Kometa can tie Pardubice in points if they win in regulation on Sunday.

Sunday's game begins at 12:30 Central European Time, 6:30 AM Eastern Time. It can be seen in the Czech Republic on ČT4 Sport, and elsewhere online at

Czechs fall to Sweden, face all-important game vs Russia on New Year's Eve

Jakub Jeřábek tries to protect the puck against
Swedish pressure. Photo:
It is said that the two powerhouses in Group B are Canada and Sweden. The performance of the Czech Republic against each team seems to bear an uncanny resemblance.

As they did against Canada, the Czechs struck early against Sweden, this time it was Milan Hlinka on a power play at 3:09. But then Sweden's Johan Larsson answered on a power-play of their own. As was the case against Canada, when they gave up a short-handed goal on a five-minute power-play, the biggest blow came when the Czechs trailed 2-1. This time, the knee-capping goal came when Jesper Fasth's seemingly harmless shot along the ice beat Marek Mazanec and Sweden took at 3-1 lead to the first intermission.

After the lead was increased to 4-1, Czech coach Miroslav Přerost made the curious move of replacing Mazanec with Filip Novotný in goal. With an all-important game against Russia coming tomorrow, it would seem that playing a rested Novotný would be the most sensible way to go if he was unhappy with Mazanec's performance. In any event, Novotný was beaten on the first shot he faced and Fasth had his second of the game to make it 5-1.

Just when all hope seemed lost, 17-year-old Martin Frk struck twice to bring the Czechs within two at the second intermission. His first was an impressive wrist shot that beat Swedish goaltender Fredrik Petersson-Wentzel to the stick side and the second was a slapshot from the point on a power-play. Both of his goals were assisted by team captain Jakub Jeřábek. Frk was thrown out of the Czechs' last game when he was penalized for spearing, and it was initially not clear if he would be able to play this game.

Eventually, it was all for naught, Sweden won 6-3, meaning they will face Canada on Friday in a showdown for first place in the group and an automatic berth in the semi-finals. As for the Czechs, they face Russia on Friday and, assuming Russia beats Noway, the game will determine which team gets third place in the group and advances to the quarter-finals and who will be sent to the relegation round. In Europe, the game will actually begin in the new year, at 1:00 CET on ČT4 Sport.

Click here to watch the Czech Republic-Sweden game in its entirety.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Šenkeřík won't play vs Sweden, Frk will

Petr Šenkeřík, seen here in the tournament opener against Norway,
won't play Thursday. Photo: Andre Ringuette, HHOF-IIHF Images.
After being carried off on a stretcher during Tuesday's game against Canada,'s Martin Merk is reporting that Czech defenceman Petr Šenkeřík is feeling better, but is still feeling the effects of a slight concussion and won't play Thursday against Sweden.

“Luckily, it’s not as bad as it looked yesterday,” the Czech team’s general manager Petr Komers said. “He feels better, but he won’t play tomorrow.”

19-year-old Šenkeřík, who split last season between the WHL's Kootenay Ice and Prince George Cougars, now plays in the Czech First League with HC Rebel Havlíčkův Brod. He was unconscious and wheeled off on a stretcher after being hit by Canada's Zack Kassian in the second period of Canada's 7-2 win. Though it did not appear that Kassian intentionally targeted Šenkeřík's head, he caught him with a hard shoulder to the chin at high speed. According to IIHF rules, any hit to the head or neck area must be penalized, and anything causing injury carries the minimum of a major penalty and game misconduct.

Kassian received an automatic one-game suspension when he was assessed a match penalty on the play by the referees. He was further suspended an additional game by tournament disciplinarian Dan Marouelli, which will keep him out of action for the remainder of the tournament's group stage. The tournament has come down hard on checks to the head in this tournament, with two Slovak players, Martin Marinčin and Peter Hraško, each given three- and two-game suspensions for incidents in their game against the USA.

It's not known if or when Šenkeřík will return in the 2011 World Junior Championships, but it has been confirmed that Martin Frk will not face further disciplinary action after being assessed a major penalty for spearing and a game misconduct in the third period of the same game. Kromers and the Czechs were originally informed that Frk would not be allowed to play against Sweden, "but we were told that the tournament directorate will not penalize Frk further. He was given a warning, but he can play."

Frk, who just turned 17 in October, is the youngest player on the Czech team. The Halifax Moosehead was the leading rookie scorer in the QMJHL at the time he left for the Czech U20 team camp and won't be eligible for the NHL Entry Draft until 2012. He wasn't added to the team's preliminary roster until Dmitrij Jaškin was forced out with a knee injury.

The Czech Republic (1-1) faces Sweden (2-0) Thursday at 3pm Eastern Time, 21:00 Central European Time. The game can be followed on TSN and RDS (Canada), NHL Network (USA), ČT4 Sport (Czech Republic), or Eurosport 2 (Europe).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Canada ends Sparta's run at Spengler Cup

In fine Don Cherry fashion, a costly too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty was the undoing of Sparta Praha at the 2010 Spengler Cup. Tied 3-3, the Czech club was whistled for having too many players on the ice in overtime in their quarter-final match-up against Canada. On the ensuing power-play, Mickey Dupont's blast from the point beat Tomáš Pöpperle to send Canada into the semi-finals and send Sparta home.

Sparta did well to force overtime in the first place. They trailed by scores of 2-0 and 3-1 in the second period, but goals by Emmanuel Peter cut the deficit to one each time. Peter, a fifth-round draft pick by the Calgary Flames in 2002, is now in his tenth year in the Swiss A League, where he currently plays for EHC Biel and was picked up by Sparta for this tournament. Late in the second, team captain David Vyborný tied the score on a power-play, and the game went to overtime following a scoreless third period.

Sparta won the Spengler Cup back-to-back years in 1962 and 1963. More recently, they reached the tournament final in 2004. They were trying to become the first Czech team to win it since Dukla Jihlava did so in 1982.

Canada has participated in the Spengler Cup every year since 1984. Since the disbanding of its standing national team in the late nineties, a team comprised of Canadians playing in various European leagues has been assembled to compete in the tournament. This year's Canadian squad, coached by Mark Messier, now advances to play in the semi-finals on Thursday against host HC Davos. In the other semi-final, SKA St. Petersburg takes on Genf-Sevette HC.

Czechs crushed by Canada at WJC, Sparta 0-2 at Spengler Cup

When Antonín Honejsek of the Moose Jaw Warriors opened the scoring for the Czech Republic just 49 seconds after the opening faceoff, perhaps some thought the pre-game predictions of a one-sided Canadian victory wouldn't come to fruition. However, Canada cashed in on the power play twice late in the opening frame to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

Still, the game was within reach. In the sixth minute of the second period, Canadian Zack Kassian hit Czech defenceman Petr Šenkeřík in open ice, a collision between two number 9s, and Šenkeřík went down. He remained on the ice for some time before being removed from the ice on a stretcher. Kassian's shoulder caught Šenkeřík in the jaw, and though there did not appear to be any attempt to target the head, he was assessed a match penalty, which results in an automatic one-game suspension and a disciplinary review to be led by former NHL referee Dan Marouelli to see if further punishment is warranted. As of yet, there is no word on Šenkeřík's status, or of any further disciplinary action against Kassian.

At this point, the Czechs were given a five-minute power-play and a golden opportunity to get back into the game. Honejsek almost did just that when he beat two Canadian penalty-killers single-handedly before being turned back by Canadian goaltender Olivier Roy in an attempt to score his second goal of the game. Seconds later, Louis LeBlanc converted on a pretty play short-handed to give Canada a 3-1 lead, and for the Czech Republic it was all downhill from that point.

In the end, it was 7-2, with Jakub Jeřábek of Plzeň 1929 scoring a late goal. Martin Frk of the Halifax Mooseheads was also assessed a spearing major and a game misconduct in the third period, and could also face further disciplinary action.

Now 1-1, the Czechs play Sweden on Thursday and Russia on Friday. They will have to beat at least one of them in order to advance to the quarter-finals.

Sparta celebrates an early goal, but the lead didn't last.
At the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, Sparta Praha will play in the quarter-finals despite losing both games of its group stage, as all teams in the tournament go at least that far. On Wednesday, they fell 4-1 to SKA St. Petersburg. Petr Kafka opened the scoring for Sparta, but the KHL club responded with two goals late in the first period and never looked back.

Sparta defenceman Doug O'Brien, who hasn't seen any action yet in the tournament, will hope to get back into the lineup on Wednesday when his team plays against Team Canada at 20:15 Central European Time (2:15 PM ET). The game can be seen in Canada on TSN2 and in Europe on Eurosport 2.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Czechs win WJC opener over Norway

A couple of Czech teams began their post-Christmas tournaments abroad on Monday.

Jakub Osrava venutres into the Norway zone in the Czech
Republic's first game at the 2011 World Junior Championships.
Photo: Andre Ringuette, HHOF-IIHF Images.
The Czech national U20 team played its first game at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY, defeating Norway 2-0. Marek Mazanec of Plzeň 1929 stopped all 21 shots he faced and the offence was supplied by Tomáš Rachůnek, formerly of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the second period and Antonín Hanejsek of the Moose Jaw Warriors on a third-period penalty kill.

The competition will get a lot tougher for the Czechs from this point, however, beginning with Tuesday's encounter with Canada. The game will begin at 4pm in Buffalo, 10pm Central European Time. In addition to various television outlets, including TSN in Canada, the NHL Network in the United States, ČT4 Sport in the Czech Republic, and Eurosport 2 elsewhere in Europe, it can be seen streaming online at:

Sparta goaltender Tomáš Pöpperle thwarts a Servette
attempt in Spengler Cup action. Photo:
Meanwhile, Sparta Praha played its first game at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, falling 4-3 to Servette Geneva. Sparta got goals from Tomáš Kůrka, Yorick Treille (who was playing against his former team), and Félicien DuBois, a pick-up who normally plays for the Kloten Flyers of the Swiss A League. DuBois' goal early in the third period gave Sparta a 3-2 lead, but Servette came back with goals from Josh Hennessy of Boston, MA and Paul Savary to win.

Today they play SKA St. Petersburg in the last game of the round-robin. On Sunday, St. Petersburg beat Servette 3-1, meaning a victory by three goals or more would earn Sparta an automatic berth in the semi-finals, otherwise they will play a quarter-final game on Thursday. If Sparta manages to finish second in the group, their quarter-final opponent would be Spartak Moscow, with Dominik Hašek in goal.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Czechs finalize WJC roster

On Friday, the Czech Ice Hockey Association announced its final roster for this year's IIHF U20 World Championship, which will take place December 26 to January 5 in Buffalo, NY.

The roster includes five returning players from the team that finished seventh at last year's tournament: goaltender Filip Novotný, defencemen Jakub Jeřábek and Oldřich Horák and forwards Andrej Nestrašil and Michal Hlinka. It also includes four NHL draft picks, all forwards: Nestrašil (Detroit), Petr Straka (Columbus), Jakub Culek (Ottawa), and Roman Horák (NY Rangers).

But this list of players may be more notable for who isn't on it. Goaltender Petr Mrázek and defenceman Adam Polášek were expected to be their top players at those positions, but a prostest by HC Vítkovice Steel over their 2009 departures to Canada is keeping them off. As well, top 17-year-old draft prospects David Musil on defence and Dmitrij Jaškin up front will miss the tournament with injuries.

For an in-depth look at the roster and how they may fare at the upcoming World Junior Championship, check out my preview at

The Czech Republic plays in a group with Canada, Sweden, Russia, and Norway. From that, the top team will advance to the semi-finals and the second and third teams will play cross-over quarter-finals. Here is the Czech team's group schedule, with times (Eastern and Central European) and TV availability:

Mon, Dec 27 19:00 ET, 01:00 CET vs Norway
Tue, Dec 28 16:00 ET, 22:00 CET vs Canada, ČT4 Sport, TSN, RDS, NHL Network, Eurosport, NTV+
Thu, Dec 30 15:00 ET, 21:00 CET vs Sweden, ČT4 Sport, TSN, NHL Network, SVT, NTV+
Fri, Dec 31 19:00 ET, 01:00 CET vs Russia, ČT4 Sport, NTV+

From, here is the roster of Team Czech Republic U20:

Tadeáš Galanský (Saginaw, OHL)
Marek Mazanec (Plzeň)
Filip Novotný (Sparta Praha)

Oldřich Horák (Hradec Králové)
Bohumil Jank (Č. Budějovice).
Jakub Jeřábek (Plzeň)
Martin Pláněk (Znojmo)
Dalibor Řezníček (Zlín)
Adam Sedlák (Ottawa, OHL)
Petr Šenkeřík (H. Brod)

Jakub Culek (Rimouski, QMJHL)
Martin Frk (Halifax, QMJHL)
Michal Hlinka (Vítkovice)
Petr Holík (Zlín)
Antonín Honejsek (Moose Jaw, WHL)
Roman Horák (Chilliwack, WHL)
Andrej Nestrašil (P.E.I., QMJHL)
Jakub Orsava (Třinec)
Ondřej Palát (Drummondville, QMJHL)
Tomáš Rachůnek (Znojmo)
Robin Soudek (Chilliwack, WHL)
Petr Straka (Rimouski, QMJHL)
David Tůma (Sparta Praha)

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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Czechs finish 2nd at Channel One Cup in Moscow

Jakub Štěpánek tends goal for the Czech
Repubic against Sweden during Sunday's
Channel One Cup action. Photo:
The Czech Republic beat Sweden 4-1 on Sunday in Moscow to finish the Channel One Cup with 5 points. They opened with a 3-2 shootout win over Finland on Thursday and then lost 3-1 to Russia on Saturday. The tournament was the second leg of this year's Euro Hockey Tour.

The four top hockey nations of Europe each host a round-robin tournament involving each other over the course of the season; the team with the most points cumulatively is said to be the unofficial European champion. The IIHF has not crowned a European champion since 1991.

The teams are composed entirely of players who play in European leagues. While these countries will use rosters that largely include NHLers during the IIHF World Championships in May, they usually include some domestic players. The Euro Hockey Tour gives domestic players some experience on the international stage and the opportunity to audition for World Championship roster spots.

Some Canadians might be more familiar with the Channel One Cup by its old name, the Izvestia Cup. Canada competed in that tournament throughout the eighties and early nineties, winning the event in 1987. That Canadian team was composed mostly of the same team that played at the Winter Olympics in Calgary two months later, and behind the goaltending of Sean Burke they beat a star-studded Soviet team 3-2 in the final game.

By beating Finland 6-2 on Sunday, Russia won this year's Channel One Cup on home ice with a perfect 3-0 record, for 9 points. The Czech Republic finished with 5, followed by Sweden with 3, and Finland with 1.

With two of the four tournaments now complete, the 2010-11 edition of the Euro Hockey Tour is now at its halfway point. Russia leads with 15 points, followed by Sweden with 9, Finland with 7, and the Czech Republic with 5. Finland hosted the Karjala Cup in November. Tournaments are still to be played in Sweden in January and the Czech Republic in April.

The Tipsport Extraliga returns to action on Tuesday, when Sparta Praha hosts Kometa Brno. The other 12 teams play Wednesday in their last games before Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Aussie scores 6 in Czech Junior Extraliga game

On December 11, 16-year-old Nathan Walker of Australia scored six goals in a 9-1 win for HC Vítkovice Steel in a Junior Extraliga game against HC Rebel Havlíčkův Brod. With 14 goals and 18 assists in 28 games, he is third in team scoring and 20th overall as the league heads into a two-week break for Christmas.

A few days after his big performance, he did an interview with the club's website, Now in his fourth year playing in the Czech Republic, the interview was conducted in Czech. The original Czech version of the interview can be found at:

On Saturday, against Havlíčkův Brod you scored just six times! Had you ever done anything like that before?

No, I'd never done that. I'm very happy, but I felt normal. I felt like I had one goal. It was something new, I'd never scored so many goals and I didn't know what to think about it.

Coach Jakub Petr said that in that game you could have scored ten goals.

Well, it could have been more. Twice I had an empty net, but I didn't score. I was in alone on the goalie twice, and I also failed.

Did you do something before the game different than you do normally? Did you feel before the game that you could have a big game?

I don't even know. I didn't do anything special, it was the work of the whole line. On each shift, we had a scoring chance. We got a lot of breaks, two-on-one, three-on-one. It's just how the game turned out.

How did your teammates react?

They said it was good that I did it.

Six goals is two hat tricks in one game, a performance like that will certainly cost you in the dressing room.
Well, they told me it would be expensive (laughs).

Any idea of what you will put into the room?

I don't know yet, I have to really think about it.

How did you ever end up in Vítkovice? Australia is far away and hockey there certainly is not the number one sport.

I've played here for four years. My coach from Australia knows Jakub Petr, the current coach of the juniors. He then coached Australia's U18 team. My coach pointed it out to me and he asked if I wanted to try it in Vitkovice. So I came here and I guess I caught on. They went and I stayed.

And it looks like you like it here too.

Yeah, definitely.

Do you imagine that in the future you might also play in the Extraliga?

Well, I guess. I would like it very much, we'll see how things develop.

Doing an interview in Czech, is it a big problem for you?

When I arrived, for me in the beginning it was a problem. But now, not at all. I understand what everyone else says to me, so now it's okay.

Have you taken any courses in Czech?

In the first year at school I had some individual sessions, but now I don't, but in the future I may start to go somewhere again, so it was perfect.

At Christmas time, the junior league takes a break. Will you spend the holidays in the Czech Republic, or are you going back to Australia?

I'm going to Australia. I'm going home on Thursday (17th). There I'll celebrate Christmas and come back to the Czech Republic at New Year's.

What do you think about the weather? After all, in Australia you are used to very different conditions at Christmas.

In Australia now we have summer, outside is twenty-five, thirty-degree heat (laughs). So it's a lot better than here.

Do you like the atmosphere of a white Christmas?

It's something different. Our Christmas is a lot of fun, but a white Christmas is nice, too. It is definitely nice.

Returning to hockey, the Vítkovice juniors are in first place. Do you think you can win it this year?

It would be great and I'd like it a lot. We have a very good team and I think we feel we can win the title.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Czech hockey legend Bubník discusses Czech junior hockey

Photo courtesy Aleksi Stenberg.
Augustin Bubník was 21 years old when he played on Czechoslovakia's 1949 World Championship hockey team. In fact, he scored the game-winning goal in the third period of the decisive game against Canada, whacking the puck out of mid-air and into the net.

"No, of course not!" he insisted, when asked if it was a high stick, making a gesture with his hands at chest level. "The Canada players said it was high stick, but referee said no, it was a goal."

But Czechoslovakia did not win another gold medal at the World Championships until 1972. Over fears of defections, the team was prevented by its communist government from defending its title at the 1950 tournament in London. Eventually, Bubník and six of his teammates spent time in jail, and none of them were allowed to play for the national team again. The result was a drastically weakened Czechoslovakian team, and the gold medal slump.

The Czech Republic won the 2010 World Championship, its sixth in 15 years. But at the junior level, they haven't won gold for nearly a decade and haven't made the semi-finals in the past five years. This year, they're considered a longshot to make the quarter-finals. They aren't producing as many great young hockey players as in the past, as shown in the drop in Czech players chosen in the NHL Entry Draft over the past several years.

As someone who played at the highest level of Czechoslovakian hockey and also coached youth and junior hockey in the country for decades, helping to develop future stars such as Ivan Hlinka and Jiří Bubla, who would be better than Bubník to evaluate the current state of Czech and Slovak hockey?

Recently, Bubník visited a Prague high school to talk to students about his fascinating story of hockey, prison, and communist-era justice. After he was finished, I had the opportunity to talk to him for a few minutes. He was interested in speaking to somebody from Canada and took delight in re-telling the story of his winning goal. He also had a few things to say about the development of hockey players in his homeland.

Some of his observations can be read in my article about the current problems facing the Czech and Slovak hockey programs, "Where Have All the Prospects Gone" at

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Defenceman Musil questionable for WJC

The news just keeps getting worse for the Czech national U20 team.

Since naming their 28-man camp roster last week, two of their best players have been declared ineligible by the Czech Ice Hockey Association and now two of their top prospects for next years draft have gone down with injuries.

Dmitrij Jaškin, a 17-year-old right winger for HC Slavia Praha, injured his knee on November 21 and is not expected to return to action until some time in January.

David Musil of the Vancouver Giants.
Photo courtesy
Then on December 7, defenceman David Musil of the Vancouver Giants suffered a hairline fracture in his right leg when he blocked a shot while killing a penalty in a WHL game against the Kamloops Blazers. His status was originally stated rather vaguely as "week to week", and now it is no more clear whether or not he will be ready to play when the Czechs open the World Junior Championships on December 27 against Norway.

“I'm going to go on the ice (today) to see if I can skate or not,” Musil told Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun on Monday. “I feel every day it's getting a bit better and I can kind of walk on it right now, so that's pretty good. I was only on crutches the first day. So I'm going to go to the camp in Detroit (on Wednesday) and stay there for three days. They said if I can skate, they'll keep me there. If not, they'll probably send me home.”

Like Jaškin, Musil will be eligible for the NHL Entry Draft for the first time in 2011, and has been mentioned as a potential first rounder. He was born in Calgary, AB while his father, defenceman František Musil, was a member of the Flames. He carries both Canadian and Czech citizenship.

For a Czech team with concerns about depth, the loss of Musil from their blueline would be the latest of many blows they have received recently. In addition to Jaškin's injury, they will also be without the services of goaltender Petr Mrázek and defenceman Adam Polášek. Both of these players are being blocked from joining the national junior team by HC Vítkovice Steel, the Czech club that claims their playing rights, due to their unauthorized departures to Canada in 2009.

The World Junior Championships run from December 26 to January 5 in Buffalo, NY. The Czech Republic plays in a group that includes Canada, Sweden, Russia, and Norway.

On Wednesday, 15 players based in Europe will fly from Prague to Detroit, where they will meet up with 13 North American-based players, including Musil. The 23-man tournament roster will be named on December 23.

Monday, December 13, 2010

League fines Boleslav 3 million crowns, Plzeň 300K

The Association of Professional Clubs (APK), which governs the Tipsport Extraliga, has levied fines against two of its member clubs for offenses relating to a recent player registration scandal.

BK Mladá Boleslav faced the stiffest penalty, CZK three million (approximately USD 160,000) for submitting erroneous reports to the league last off-season relating to club finances. There were rumours that the club may be relegated to the First League as punishment, but the league decided this was more a case of misjudgment than malice.

Vaclav Horejší, the club's director, explained, "I would not call it a mistake directly, but rather underestimating the seriousness of the situation."

Horejší also expressed surprise at how high the fine was.

Though they have not been expelled from the Extraliga yet, Boleslav may have to defend its position at the end of the season, if they are unable to climb out of the basement, against the First League champion.

As for HC Plzeň 1929, they were fined CZK 300,000 (approximately USD 16,000) for comments made by forward Tomáš Vlasák, who called APK Director Stanislav Šulc an "arrogant puppet" in the wake of the recent ruling which stripped Plzeň of 19 points in the standings.

Both clubs involved in Monday's disciplinary action, along with HC Vagnerplast Kladno, were recently punished by the league for the improper registration of players. The clubs were penalized all points in which the affected players took part. Boleslav and Plzeň have appealed that ruling, which is still pending.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Litvínov extends lead before break

On the last day of action before the Extraliga takes an eight-day break for the Channel One Cup in Moscow, there was a big game at ČEZ Arena in Plzeň between 10th-place Benzina Litvínov and 11th-place Plzeň 1929.

Heading into the game, Jiří Šlegr's Litvínov club held a 10-point advantage for the 10th and final playoff spot, which Plzeň could have reduced to seven with a regulation victory, which is worth three points. The home side was six minutes away from getting the result they wanted, but couldn't hold on and ended up losing in a shootout, which allows Litvínov to increase its lead to 11.

Litvínov was leading late in the second period, when Radek Duda tied the score. Windsor CT's Nick Johnson was screening in front and it appears that he may have tipped the shot, though no official change has been made. On a third-period power play, Martin Straka scored on a rebound to give Plzeň a 3-2 lead, and it appeared the night might turn out their way, but the league's worst defensive team couldn't hold on, and the game ended up going to overtime and then a shootout.

Petr Franěk entered the Litvínov goal and stopped Plzeň's Tomáš
Vlasák to end the game. Photo: Milan Podpera,
Martin Jenáček scored the go-ahead goal in the third round of the shootout, and then Petr Franěk replaced Jaroslav Hübl in the Litvínov goal to face the last shooter. Franěk stopped the only shot he faced, against league-leading scorer Tomáš Vlasák, to preserve the victory for visiting Litvínov.

There are actually now two teams between ninth-place Litvínov and 12th-place Plzeň. With the two points, Litvínov overtook Slavia Praha, who were routed 7-1 in Vítkovice. 

As well,  Sparta Praha went into Třinec and pulled off a huge upset, winning 5-1 against the first-place club. Radek Smoleňak scored twice for Sparta, while Tomáš Kůrka tallied a goal and an assist. 

Ocelaři Třinec and Vítkovice are now tied for first with 58 points each, both teams having played 31 games. Four points back of the leaders, Bílí Tigři Liberec and Kometa Brno are tied for third with 54 points. Liberec went into Pardubice and won 3-2 in overtime, with Martin Čakajík scoring only two seconds before time expired. Meanwhile, Brno lost 4-2 on home ice to Energie Karlovy Vary. 

Other scores:

Vagnerplast Kladno 4-0 Mountfield České Budějovice
BK Mladá Boleslav 0-2 PSG Zlín

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.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Czech WJC roster trimmed to 28

Martin Frk of the Halifax Moosheads is on the Czech national
junior team's 28-man roster.
Czech national junior coach Miroslav Přerost has trimmed the original 41-man roster, named last month, to 28. It will be down to 23 by the start of the IIHF World U20 Championships in Buffalo, NY on December 26.

The roster now includes three goaltenders, 10 defencemen, and 15 forwards. It is expected that two more defenceman and three more forwards will yet be trimmed, although three defenceman and two forwards is also possible.

Of the 28 remaining, 14 play in the Czech Republic and 14 in North America. Of the 14 domestic players, 10 play in the Tipsport Extraliga and four play in the First National League. Of the 14 North American players, seven play in the QMJHL, five in the WHL, and two in the OHL.

One player remaining on the roster is Martin Frk of the Halifax Mooseheads. Frk, who isn't eligible for the NHL Entry Draft until 2012, wasn't a consideration early on, but earned a spot onto the Czech preliminary roster when Dmitrij Jaškin pulled out with an injury. Frk is currently the leading rookie scorer in the QMJHL.

There are five returning players from last year's tournament still on the roster. They are goaltender Filip Novotný, defencemen Jakub Jeřábek and Oldřich Horák, and forwards Andrej Nestrašil and Michal Hlinka. Michal Poletín of Slavia Praha was on last year's team that finished 7th, but has now been cut to the team's reserve roster.

Of the remaining players, only four have been drafted by NHL teams. Nestrašil in the third round by Detroit in 2009, and taken in 2010 were Petr Mrázek by Detroit in the third round, Jakub Culek by Ottawa and Adam Polášek by Vancouver, both in the fifth round.

The players will convene in Detroit for a brief camp starting on December 15 and will play in two pre-tournament games in Rochester, NY before the final 23-man roster is named on December 23. The Czech Republic will open the tournament against Norway on December 27.

Here is the 28-man roster as posted at the Czech Ice Hockey Association's website:


Marek Mazanec
(Plzeň), Filip Novotný (Sparta Praha), Petr Mrázek (Ottawa, OHL).


Jakub Jeřábek
(Plzeň), Petr Šenkeřík (H. Brod), Dalibor Řezníček, Martin Matějíček (both Zlín), Adam Polášek (P.E.I., QMJHL), Adam Sedlák (Ottawa, OHL), Martin Pláněk (Znojmo), David Musil (Vancouver, WHL), Oldřich Horák (Hradec Králové), Marek Hrbas (Edmonton, WHL).


Robin Soudek
(Chilliwack, WHL), Roman Horák (Chilliwack, WHL), Andrej Nestrašil (P.E.I., QMJHL), Ondřej Palát (Drummondville, QMJHL), Martin Frk (Halifax, QMJHL), Petr Holík (Zlín), Jakub Orsava (Třinec), Michal Hlinka (Vítkovice), David Tůma (Sparta Praha), Antonín Honejsek (Moose Jaw, WHL), Jakub Culek, Petr Straka (both Rimouski, QMJHL), Tomáš Rachůnek (Znojmo), Tomáš Filippi (Quebec, QMJHL), Radim Heřman (Č. Budějovice).


Tadeáš Galanský (Saginaw, OHL), Tomáš Král (Lillehammer, Norsko), Bohumil Jank (Č. Budějovice), Michael Zacpálek (Sparta Praha), Petr Kousalík (Litvínov), Michal Poletín (Slavia Praha), Rostislav Marosz (Třinec), Adam Havlík (Znojmo), Jakub Šlahař (Zlín).

General Manager: Petr Komers
Head Coach: Miroslav Přerost
Assistant Coaches: Jiří Fischer, Terry Christensen 
Goaltender Coach: Roman Višňák
Video Coach: Jan Procházka 
Physician: Dr. Jaroslav Budín
Treasurer, Masseur: Leoš Mitáček, Vladimír Malý

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Newfoundland's Slaney and O'Brien face off in Prague

What difference does five and a half weeks make?

The last time Plzeň 1929 visited Sparta Praha, back on October 29, Sparta won 3-0 to leap over Plzeň in the standings. On Tuesday night, Sparta prevailed 4-3 and they again jumped ahead of their West Bohemian opponents in the standings. That doesn't seem odd until you consider that Plzeň was stripped of 19 points in the interim.

After that October 29 game, Sparta went 1-1-0-10 (on the 3-2-1-0 points scale) in its next 12 games to plunge into 12th place in the 14-team league. Since then, they've won two in a row, including Tuesday's game, to climb back up one notch to 11th. The team's struggles reflected in the crowd, with only 3,318 in attendance.

On the other side was Plzeň 1929. Between the October 29 and December 7 games at Sparta, they posted a record of 8-1-1-2, and would now find themselves in sixth place, if not for the 19 points they were penalized for dressing improperly-registered players. A serious blow, to be sure, but it hasn't seemed to have negatively affected their play.

"We get told a little bit about it," said John Lammers of Langley, BC. "All we know is we lost 19 points and we've just got to forget about it and play hard."

Plzeň was led offensively by the line of Nick Johnson, Radek Duda, and Martin Straka, which scored all three of the team's goals. Straka scored twice in the first period, including a power-play marker on a slapshot with four seconds left in the period to send the visitors to the room with a 2-1 lead.

Straka also showed he still has wheels at age 38 when he beat Petr Ton in a race for the puck in the second period to prevent Ton from getting a breakaway. Moments later, Sparta's Yorick Treille (a Frenchman who played Junior A hockey in Saskatchewan for the Notre Dame Hounds and NCAA hockey for UMass-Lowell) did get a breakaway and was hauled down by Jaroslav Modrý, resulting in a penalty shot. Treille made good on the attempt to tie the score.

Nick Johnson ties the score in the third period. Photo
courtesy Jan Beneš,
With Sparta leading 3-2 with under 8:00 to play in the game, Windsor, CT's Johnson bunted home an airborne puck on a wild scramble to tie the score, but just 31 seconds later, Tomáš Kůrka scored the winning goal for Sparta on a stoppable-looking shot that goaltender Petr Přikryl was visibly upset with. It spoiled an otherwise fine performance by Přikryl, who made the save of the night in the second period when he stoned Radek Smoleňak with a toe save from point-blank range.

Karel Hromas and Marek Bartánus also scored for Sparta on the night. The last time these teams met, Tomáš Pöpperle recorded a shutout against his former team. Despite allowing 3 goals this time, he picked up the win, thanks to some rare goal support from his team.

Doug O'Brien and game-winning-goal scorer Tomáš Kůrka.
Photo courtesy Ladislav Adámek,
"Scoring a few goals, which is a good thing," said St. John's, NL's Doug O'Brien, explaining the biggest reason why the team's managed to win two in a row. "We've had trouble scoring goals lately. But two wins, that's the main thing. We want to get some wins under our belt and start climbing in the standings. We're working hard. In practice we've been working hard and it's shown the last two games."

John Slaney (left) trying to keep Petr Kafka in check.
Photo courtesy Jan Beneš,
O'Brien wasn't the only Newfoundlander in the game. On Plzeň's blueline was John Slaney, also from St. John's. Slaney was immortalized in Canadian hockey history when he scored the game-winning goal against the Soviet Union to clinch the gold medal for Canada at the 1991 World Junior Championships. For O'Brien, who is 12 years Slaney's junior, he is definitely somebody to look up to.

"He's a legend, I think. Everybody looks up to him. He's played, what, about 20 years? Everybody knows him, for sure."

Slaney played the game with a low shield to protect the recently healed broken jaw that kept him out of the lineup for 11 games, though surprisingly not longer.

"(I returned) about three weeks early," he said after the game, "It's nice to get back and help the team. Tough loss tonight but lately things have gone better."

Sparta is now in 11th place with 33 points, 7 behind Benzina Litvínov, who currently occupy the 10th and final playoff position. Plzeň is three points behind Sparta, but have two games in hand.

Champions Hockey League will resume next season

Slavia's Michal Vondrka (left) hits Zürich captain Mathias
into the boards during a Champions Hockey League
game at O2 Arena, December 3, 2008. Photo courtesty AP and
Petr David Josek.
The IIHF has announced that, after a two-year hiatus, the Champions Hockey League will resume for the 2011-12 season.

The league will feature 16 teams divided into four groups. After a group stage that will see each team play six games, the top two teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals, followed by sem-finals and finals. All playoffs will be two-game, total points, home-and-away series.

The 2011-12 CHL season will run from September 7 to January 25. The regular-season and playoff champions from the top seven European hockey leagues will gain berths, as will the 2011 Continental Cup winners and ZSC Lions Zürich, the winners of the 2009 Champions League. The top seven European leagues are those based in the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia (KHL), Slovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The league operated in the 2008-09 season to great reviews. However, due to the world economic crisis, the CHL's two main sponsors, Reebok and Gazprom, pulled out after one season. Unwilling to shoulder the enormous operating costs alone, the IIHF decided to put the league on hiatus.

“The inaugural Champions Hockey League showed that European ice hockey is ready for a pan-continental league,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “It showed that all stakeholders, primarily the clubs and its large fan base, can be the beneficiaries of this competition which provides an additional value on top of the already successful domestic competition.”

In the first edition of the Champions Hockey League, 12 teams from seven countries were divided into four groups of three. After each team played four round-robin games (home and away against the other two in the group), the four group winners advanced to the semi-finals, and then to the finals, which were both played in the two-legged, home-and-away format.

The event was won by ZSC Lions Zürich of Switzerland, who defeated Metallurg Magnitogorsk of Russia in the final. Czech clubs HC Slavia Praha, who were the defending champions of the country, and HC Mountfield České Budějovice, who had finished first in the regular season, competed in the event. Both clubs finished second in their respective groups. Slavia hosted Zürich at Prague's O2 Arena on the last day of the group stage and could have advanced to the semi-finals with a single point. The crowd of 8,137 saw a great game for two periods with the score tied 1-1, before Zürich scored four times in the third to win the group.

The Swiss club was led by Jean-Guy Trudel of Sudbury, ON, who scored 4 goals and 9 assists in 8 games to lead the tournament in scoring. Trudel retired this past summer.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jeff Winchester enters Czech 2nd League

For the first time this season, there will be a North American playing in a Czech hockey league lower than the Extraliga. Jeff Winchester, a defenceman from Dalhousie, NB, has joined HC Bobři Valašské Meziříčí of the Second National League, which is the third tier of Czech hockey after the Tipsport Extraliga and the First National League.

Winchester played college hockey for the University of Alabama-Huntsville from 2002 to 2006. Since then, he's played in the ECHL, the Central Hockey League, Southern Professional Hockey League, and in the Netherlands.

Last season, he was a member of the Huntsville Havoc, who won the SPHL championship. He can be seen being interviewed during the team's championship celebration here:,Item,109150079.html

On Sunday, he played in his first game with his new team. Winchester was kept off the scoresheet in Bobři's 4-3 loss in Uničov. Bobři is currently tied with Hodonín for 8th place in the 15-team league.

Prior to that game, he spoke with Jan Kramář and Michal Václav in an interview that appeared on the club's website:

Q: How did you end up in Valašské Meziříčí?

A: Last season I played with Robin Kovář and I had the opportunity to go last year, but there were a lot of players and the roster was full. So I'm here now, when I heard from Petr (General Manager Kovář).

Q: Did you have any other offers?

A: Yes, from my former club in the Netherlands.

Q: Who told you about the club? You've told me about Robin, so it was him?

A: Yes.

Q: What expectations do you have of yourself playing in the Second League?

A: I'm definitely gonna work hard and I want to help Bobři win again.

Q: Where do you live?

A: The club has arranged a flat for me in the
Vyhlídka area.

Q: Do you have a girlfriend?

A: Yes I do. She's here with me. It's her first real winter and the first time she's seen snow.

Q: Thank you and good luck with Bobři.

A: Thanks, I'll try to give a good performance.

Note: The original interview took place in English and was translated into Czech for the HC Bobři Valašské Meziříčí website. It has been translated back into English from that site, so it will not be exactly the same as the original interview.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Plzeň and Boleslav appeal points deductions

As expected, HC Plzeň 1929 and BK Mladá Boleslav have both submitted formal appeals of the decision to strip them of points for using players that had been improperly registered.

Plzeň was the first to file an appeal, on Thursday, with Mladá Boleslav following suit on Friday. The other penalised club, HC Vagnerplast Kladno, has said that it will not appeal. The deadline for filing is Saturday.

Two weeks ago, Stanislav Šulc, who is the Director of the Association of Professional Clubs (APK), ruled that the three clubs would lose all points they earned in games that the improperly registered players participated in. Mladá Boleslav lost 22 points, Plzeň 19, and Kladno 8. The APK is composed of the 14 member clubs of the Tipsport Extraliga, and is given authority to govern the league by the Czech Ice Hockey Association (ČSLH).

"There are many points of contention, but at this point we do not want to release the details. In fairness, the appeal board or the league director should be notified first," Tomáš Tesař, the lawyer speaking on behalf of the Plzeň club, told on Thursday.

At a press conference on Friday, Mladá Boleslav attorney Jan Tůma was more forthcoming.

"After considering all the circumstances, we have decided to appeal. Mr. Šulc has been notified," he said. While the club acknowledges the registration errors, they feel that such a strong penalty is not warranted for a clerical oversight that they did not benefit from. Furthermore, Tůma believes that Šulc does not have the authority to make such a ruling. 

"There are several reasons for the appeal. We affirm, and we have a strong case that Mr. Šulc isn't authorized to make such decisions. Such things are for the general meeting of the Association of Professional Clubs. In our opinion, APK Director Stanislav Šulc handing the case is in violation of applicable rules of the APK and the Czech Ice Hockey Association. In league history, there have been a number of cases that were similar, and in these cases the guilty clubs were never given such a high penalty."

At the time of Šulc's ruling, Martin Straka and Cyril Suk, the General Managers for the two clubs, indicated that they planned to appeal.

The case will now move into the hands of an independent appeals board.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Extraliga schedule reaches mid point

Vítkovice goalie Roman Málek raises his arms in celebration
as time expires against Třinec, lifting his team into first place.
The Tipsport Extraliga schedule reached its halfway point on Tuesday, with round 26 of 52 taking place. Actually, five of the 14 teams had already reached the halfway mark in games, including one that is fighting for top spot overall.

HC Vítkovice Steel and HC Ocelaří Třinec have been neck-and-neck for top spot for some time now, and on Tuesday they went head-to-head at ČEZ Arena in Ostrava (Vítkovice's home rink) in a first-place showdown. Both teams entered the game tied in points with 50, with Třinec holding a game in hand. 9,002, Vítkovice's largest home crowd of the season, turned out to watch their team win the game 3-2 and take over top spot in the Extraliga standings. After the teams swapped goals in the first eight minutes of the game, the home side struck twice in the second period, and then survived a late Třinec attack, in which they narrowed the lead late, but were unable to equalise.

Sparta's David Vyborný scores the shootout winner against Karlovy
Vary goaltender Lukáš Mensator. Photo courtesy Marek Mikeš.
In Karlovy Vary, HC Sparta Praha ended its six-game losing streak with a shootout victory. Energie was ahead 2-1 as the game approached its midway point, when Radek Smoleňák scored twice in under a minute, the second goal assisted by St. John's, NL's Doug O'Brien, to give Sparta a 3-2 lead. However, Ján Mucha tied the game with under nine minutes to play. After a scoreless overtime, David Vyborný netted the shootout winner, and the streak was over.

Radek Dlouhý scoring the OT winner, as Kometa fans behind
the goal get ready to celebrate. Photo courtesy Pavel Vrtiška.
In the nation's capital, HC Slavia Praha hosted HC Kometa Brno at O2 Arena. The game attracted a gate of 12,251, the largest crowd in the Extraliga so far this season, thanks to several thousand Brno fans who showed up to support the visitors. They witnessed Brno taking an early 2-0 advantage, only to have the home team storm back and take a 3-2 lead into the third period. Slavia almost held on for the victory, but Radim Hruška tied the game with less than two minutes remaining. Then, Radek Dlouhý scored in overtime to vault Brno into a third-place tie with Liberec, holding a game in hand.

Other scores:

HC Plzeň 1929 4-1 PSG Zlín
BK Mladá Boleslav 2-4 HC Eaton Pardubice
HC Vagnerplast Kladno 1-5 HC Benzina Litvínov
Bílí Tigři Liberec 3-1 HC Mountfield České Budějovice

Standings at the season's halfway point:

1 HC Vítkovice Steel 27 162
2 HC Ocelaří Třinec 26 13 3
5 5
3 HC Kometa Brno 26 14 219 47
4 Bílí Tigři Liberec 27 13 2
4 8
5 HC Eaton Pardubice 26 13 1
5 7
6 HC Energie Karlovy Vary 26 9 4
5 8
7 PSG Zlín27 10 3
4 10
8 HC Mountfield České Budějovice  26104
9 HC Benzina Litvínov26 111
2 12
10 HC Slavia Praha 26 8 5
1 12
11 HC Sparta Praha 28 5 5
2 16
12 HC Plzeň 1929 26 132
1 10
13 HC Vagnerplast Kladno 26 6 0
1 19
14 BK Mladá Boleslav 27 8 2
3 14