Sunday, January 16, 2011

Plzeň climbs the ladder, Brno free-falls

Back on November 19, the Association of Professional Clubs stripped BK Mladá Bolselav, HC Plzeň 1929, and HC Vagnerplast Kladno 22, 19, and 6 points, respectively, for using improperly registered players in some of their early-season games.

The ruling seemed like a death sentence for the three clubs in the 2010-11 season and, indeed, for two of the clubs it has been. Mladá Boleslav and Kladno are buried at the bottom of the standings; the only thing left to decide is which one will finish last and face a relegation series against the First League winner. But Plzeň, who dropped from seventh place to 12th with the ruling, 13 points out of a playoff spot, are now within 2 of getting back into the top 10.

Plzeň celebrates Jaroslav Modrý's winning goal on Sunday.
The Indians are currently riding a five-game winning streak, the latest win coming Sunday night over Mountfield České Budějovice, 3-2. Windsor, CT's Nick Johnson assisted on Jaroslav Modrý's game-winner midway through the third period. In that stretch, they have put 12th-place Sparta Praha 10 points in arrears and now have 53 points. Within their their sights are Benzina Litvínov with 55, Kometa Brno with 56, and Energie Karlovy Vary with 58.

The chase for a spot in the top 10, and a playoff position, was aided by the fact that all three teams they are chasing lost on Sunday. Litvínov lost 4-2 to league-leading Vítkovice Steel, Brno lost 2-1 on home ice to Mladá Boleslav, and Karlovy Vary got walloped 7-1 by Bílí Tigři Liberec. Brno, who were in third place a month ago, are running in the opposite direction of Plzeň. They have won only once in their last 12 games and are now in danger of missing the playoffs, a prospect that seemed unthinkable not long ago. Kometa hosts Litvínov in a huge game Tuesday night.

As for Plzeň, they host Sparta on Tuesday before heading on the road to play in Liberec Friday and Litvínov next Sunday. The match-up with Sparta was slated to be the final installment of the season in the battle of Newfoundland defencemen, John Slaney and Doug O'Brien. However, Slaney suffered a concussion on Friday night in Karlovy Vary and missed Sunday's game. His status for Tuesday is unknown. Slaney missed 11 games earlier this season with a broken jaw.

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