Sunday, December 4, 2011

Record crowd watches junior game in Brno

The Czech Junior Hockey Extraliga, usually ignored by all but the most enthusiastic fans of the sport, was front and centre in Brno on Saturday night, as a league-record 4,823 fans went through the turnstiles of Kajot Arena to watch hometown Kometa take on Sparta Praha.

The record-sized jersey is visible in the background as the national
anthem is played. Photo: Martin Kocourek,
Junior hockey games in the Czech Republic and throughout Europe are usually played before friends-and-family gatherings, even at the leagues' highest levels. As an example, the final game of last year's league championship series between Znojmo and Karlovy Vary was attended by 1,914, and that was considered a good crowd.

The event was organised by the Kometa club to try to get into the record book in a few different categories. In addition to the crowd, they also set the record for largest fan scarf, at 60 x 6 metres, and largest jersey, at 300 square metres.

"This game was great publicity for junior hockey," said Czech Ice Hockey Association President Tomáš Král on the Kometa website, who has long tried to increase the profile of Czech junior hockey. "It was just a wonderful atmosphere that I completely absorbed. I am convinced that every visitor at Saturday's game felt it is sure to return to see another game, which only helps junior hockey."

Raising interest in junior hockey in Brno is good news for the Czech Ice Hockey Association because that's where the IIHF World U18 Championship will be played in April

The fans in attendance were treated to a great effort from their team as well. Despite outshooting Sparta 49-29 on the night, it took a goal by Jan Káňa with 11:42 remaining in regulation time to break the 3-3 tie, a goal that held up as the eventual game winner. Kometa was led by two goals from Jakub Novák and a goal and an assist from Tomáš Dujsík. Sparta got two goals from Martin Procházka and two assists from Stanislav Eis. Káňa's goal gives him 28 points, which makes him the league's leading scorer.

After 22 games, Kometa Brno is second place in the Junior Extraliga standings with 50 points. They trail the leaders, Litvínov by 3 points. Sparta is currently fifth with 41 points. With a victory, they could have jumped ahead of Jihlava and Chomutov into third.

1 comment:

  1. I was born in Brno and it amazes me that the 2nd biggest city has almost no one in the NHL or national teams. Robert Kron being our best NHL'er and Tomas Vincour being the only current one. Great to see the Jr. team doing well but Jr. Hockey in the Czech Republic sounds like a woeful experience. It is so different in North America where an OHL team can sell out a 10,000 seat arena pretty easily.