Monday, March 21, 2011

Pardubice earns split in Vítkovice, Ujčík sets playoff goal mark

Víktovice Steel and Eaton Pardubice split the first two games of their Extraliga semifinal series on the weekend and a Víktovice veteran established the new career playoff goals record.

In the first game, Jiří Burger opened the scoring in the last minute of the first period and closed the scoring late in the third, as Vítkovice drew first blood with a 4-0 home-ice victory. Roman Málek made 30 saves for the shutout.

Vítkovice's Viktor Ujčík (visible at the side of the net) scores to
become the Extraliga's all-time playoff goal-scoring leader, as
Pardubice's František Kaberle watches helplessly. Photo: Petr
On Sunday, it was Pardubice's turn to open the scoring in the last minute of the first period, with Petr Koukal doing the honours. Midway through the third, Koukal assisted on Jan Starý's eventual game-winner, as the visitors withstood some late pressure and escaped with a narrow 3-2 victory to even the series. Martin Růžička stopped 34 of 36 shots.

Viktor Ujčík scored both of Vítkovice's goals in the second game, the latter with only 27 seconds remaining. He now has 53 career playoff goals in the Czech Extraliga, making him the league's all-time playoff goal-scoring leader.

"Well, I've been playing hockey for about 40 years, so it's something that's eventually going to happen. I guess I got a merit award," he said dismissively about the historic event. "And the two goals today? The first one was beautifully set up by Jiří Burger. It was impossible to miss. And the other one, I tried to put it from the side into the goalie and it deflected between his legs and into the net. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't enough."

The 38-year-old veteran has played 16 seasons at the top level of Czechoslovak and Czech hockey. Teams include Dukla Jihlava, Slavia Praha, Oceláři Třinec, Keramika Plzeň, Sparta Praha, and Vítkovice, with whom he's spent the last 4 years. He also played 3 seasons in the Finnish SM-liiga for Karpat Oulu. He represented the Czech Repbulic at the 2001 and 2002 World Championships, getting 13 points in 16 games combined and winning a gold medal in '01. He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 2001 as a 29 year old, but has never played in a North American league.

The series resumes in Pardubice on Wednesday and Thursday. Regardless of what happens there, it will surely return to Ostrava for a fifth game on Sunday.

The other semifinal series between Oceláři Třinec and Slavia Praha begins on Monday. The game begins at 17:00 and will be available live on the internet at, but the television broadcast will be tape-delayed until 19:30. The second game, on Tuesday, will be televised live at 18:10. The series will then shift to Prague for games 3 and 4 on Friday and Saturday.

Also starting monday is the final series of the First National League. The series, which is between Slovan Ústečtí Lvi and KLH Chomutov, will determine who has the right to challenge BK Mladá Boleslav for a position in the Extraliga next season.

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