Sunday, February 6, 2011

Vítkovice celebrates 30th anniversary of championship with shutout win

Just two days after Slavia Praha and Plzeň 1929 entertained Extraliga fans with throwback uniforms to commemorate Slavia's 110th anniversary, HC Vítkovice Steel donned retro garb for a special occasion as well. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1980-81 championship of the Czechoslovakian Elite League, the Vítkovice squad wore replica jerseys of what the team wore that championship season, and the team responded by playing like they did that year. 
Jiří Burger (captain) celebrates his second of 2 second-period
goals in Vítkovice Steel's convincing 5-0 win over Kometa Brno.
Photo: Petr Kotala,

Before Friday night's game against Kometa Brno began, the 1981 championship team was introduced to the crowd, among them former NHLers František Černík and Miroslav Fryčer. Once the game began, the home side began the utter domination of their slumping opponents, led by their captain.

After Peter Húževka gave Vítkovice a 1-0 lead in the first period, captain Jiří Burger scored twice in the second and assisted on two more third period goals to cap a convincing 5-0 victory over the bewildered visitors from Brno. Roman Málek made 30 saves for the shutout.

With the number of games left on the schedule dwindling, this was an important game for Kometa to get back in the playoff race, but they were unfortunate to run into an opponent tonight that brought its "A" game. For Vítkovice, the win was big, as they had been struggling themselves. Not long ago in first place, they were 2-1-0-6 in their last 9 on the 3-2-1-0 points scale, heading into Friday night's game, and needed a win to right their ship as the playoffs approach.

"I was afraid of this game, because Brno is playing for everything," said Burger afterward, "but we did what we set out to do: we gave it everything. We went hard to the net, we battled and we turned the game in our favour. We won; even got a shutout. The 5-0 score says everything." 

With the loss, Kometa remains on the outside, looking in on the playoff picture. They remain a single point behind 10th-place Energie Karlovy Vary. As for Vítkovice, the win kept them 7 points within Oceláři Třinec and Bílí Tigři Liberec, who both won this round. They now sit in third place, one ahead of PSG Zlín, who beat Mountfield České Budějovice 2-1 in a shootout.

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