Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Czechs set to take on the junior hockey world

The IIHF U20 World Championship began on Monday in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with eight of ten teams in action. The Czech Republic are one of the two teams that waits until Tuesday to get underway, and then will have to play four games in five days against some stiff competition, one of the rewards they get for finishing seventh last year.

After two pre-tournament exhibition games in which they beat Latvia 7-1 and then lost 5-3 to Russia, the Czechs trimmed their roster down to the required 23. For Czech fans, the most disappointing omission is highly-touted winger Martin Frk, who never came to camp. After suffering a concussion in a QMJHL pre-season game in September, Frk returned to the Halifax Mooseheads lineup for a few games in December, but elected to go home to the Czech Republic for Christmas and rest rather than risk re-injury in the highly competitive tournament.

Without Frk, the Czechs are still in better shape than they were last year, as they do have Petr Mrázek, David Musil and Dmitrij Jaškin, who all missed last year's tournament.

Their first game is against Denmark, who opened with an 11-3 loss to the USA on Monday. It should be the Czechs' easiest game in the group stage, though coach Miroslav Přerost is taking nothing for granted.  "The first game in the tournament always brings some nervousness before the players get used to the atmosphere, the ice and the tempo of the play," he told hokej.cz's Václav Jáchim. "The Danes won't be easy. The Americans got 11 goals on them, but in the first period they played very well."

In a group that's tough enough, picking up the full three points against Denmark is imperative, as things get much more difficult after that. After Tuesday's game, which begins at 2am Wednesday in the Czech Republic, they then get Canada, the United States and Finland in quick succession. They will need to beat at least one more of them to avoid a third-straight trip to the relegation round.

As expected, Mrázek will start in goal against Denmark, with Libor Kašík backing him up.

For an in-depth analysis on the team, read my preview at HockeysFuture.com or my contribution to Bruce Peter's preview at Puckworlds.com.

Below is the Czech team's tournament roster, courtesy the Czech Ice Hockey Association, followed by the team's group-stage schedule. Included in the schedule is international television listings.

Petr Mrázek (Ottawa, OHL), Libor Kašík (Zlín/Olomouc), Tomáš Král (Oulu, Finland).

Marek Hrbas (Kamloops, WHL), Bohumil Jank (Poprad, KHL), Daniel Krejčí (Slavia Praha), Vojtěch Mozík (Ml. Boleslav), David Musil (Vancouver, WHL), Jiří Říha (Liberec/Benátky), Petr Zámorský (Zlín).

Jakub Culek, Petr Straka (both Rimouski, QMJHL), Tomáš Filippi (Baie-Comeau, QMJHL), Tomáš Hertl, Dmitrij Jaškin (both Slavia Praha), Petr Holík (Zlín), Tomáš Hyka (Gatineau, QMJHL), Tomáš Nosek (Pardubice), Daniel Přibyl (Sparta Praha), Lukáš Sedlák (Chicoutimi, QMJHL), Jiří Sekáč (Poprad, KHL), Michal Švihálek (Č. Budějovice), Dominik Uher (Spokane, WHL), Radek Faksa (Kitchener, WHL). 

Team Manager: Petr Komers
Head Coach: Miroslav Přerost
Assistant Coaches: Jiří Juřík, Jiří Fischer
Goaltending Coach: Roman Višňák
Team Doctor: Dr. Marcel Hujo
Video Coach: Jan Procházka
Physiotherapist: Radovan Sakaláš
Trainers: Leoš Mitáček, Zdeněk Šmíd


Tuesday, December 27, Denmark, 6pm (02:00 Wed), ČT4, TSN

Wednesday, December 28, Canada, 6pm (02:00 Thu), ČT4, TSN, RDS, Viasat, NTV, Eurosport

Friday, December 30, USA, 1:30pm (21:30), ČT4, TSN, RDS, NHL Network

Saturday, December 31, Finland, 2pm (22:00), ČT4, TSN, Viasat, MTV3

All games above will be streamed online, live or on-demand, within the Czech Republic at ceskatelevize.cz/ct4/zive-vysilani. Elsewhere, the opposition's rightsholder or fasthockey.com may provide online coverage.

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