Wednesday, August 31, 2011

KV will play in World Junior Club Cup final

HC Energie Karlovy Vary U20 has posted shutout victories in each of its first two games at the inaugural World Junior Club Cup in Omsk, Russia, and is now assured a spot in the tournament's championship game on Saturday.

Though Dynamo-Shinnik wasn't able to get any pucks past
Vladislav Habal on Wednesday, they did manage to put a player
into the net. Photo:
Vladislav Habal made 15 saves on Tuesday in a 4-0 win over the Malmö RedHawks from Sweden, and then stopped all 23 he faced on Wednesday in a 1-0 win over Dynamo-Shinnik from Belarus. Last season, Habal led the Junior Extraliga in goals-against average (1.97) and shutouts (5) and led KV to the league finals.

Petr Koblasa got things going against Malmö just 26 seconds in, with Adam Shusser and Jaromír Kverka adding to the lead before the first period was out. Marek Švec added the fourth goal early in the second to round out the scoring. Against Shinnik, Martin Funk scored the lone goal midway through the first period.

After an day off Thursday, they will play their final game of the group stage on Friday against the tournament's Canadian representative, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The Barons are 0-2, having fallen to both teams that Energie has already beaten. By virtue of this, the best that either Malmö or Shinnik can do is tie Energie. Having beaten both teams, the Czech team would advance on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

In the opposite group, the picture isn't quite as clear. The American representative, a team of Eastern Junior Hockey League All-Stars, is 2-0 like Karlovy Vary. Unlike KV, however, their opponent on Friday, CSKA Moscow U20, is 1-1. Therefore, if the EJHL Selects picks up any points in the game, either by winning in regulation or taking the game to overtime, they will advance to Saturday's final. However, if CSKA wins in regulation, they will be KV's opponents.

Friday's game between Karlovy Vary and Fort McMurray begins at 19:00 local time, 14:00 CET and 6am MT. Live audio play-by-play is available at Saturday's final game will begin at 20:00 local, 15:00 CET, 9am ET. For those who can read Russian, live online commentary can be seen for all games at

Monday, August 29, 2011

Plzeň & Mountfield battle for group's top spot

While some Czech teams have struggled in European Trophy competition, others have flourished.'s Per Csongrádi examines the fortunes of two clubs, HC Plzeň 1929 and HC Mountfield České Budějovice, who are currently poised to take the top two spots in the East Division and advance to the Red Bull Salute:

Plzeň (white) and Mountfield (red) battling in their European Trophy
opener in České Budějovice on August 12. Photo: František Panec,
Plzeň took over the top of the table on Sunday after defeating Finnish team Tappara 4–0 at home and are in a good position to go through, having two games left to play. ”We look to be in one of the two top positions when we sum up the group, but it is still a tough battle between three, or even four teams, as to which teams will make it to the play-off,” says Plzeň forward Tomáš Vlasák.

Plzen could have been in an even stronger position had they won Saturday's game at home to Slovan Bratislava, a game the Slovaks won in a penalty shootout. That win handed them a lifeline in the race for a place in Salzburg and Vienna mid-December.

But after having won their first four games in the tournament, all four played at home in Bratislava where they picked up 11 out of a possible 12 points, the Slovaks have struggled to repeat those performances away from home. Now they have a tough task ahead of them if they are to pick up the necessary points to finish in the top-two. They play Jokerit away in their only remaining game of the tournament.

And it might not even be enough with a win in Helsinki. The second Czech team in the division, HC Mountfield, is only 1 point behind Slovan Bratislava having played two games less and having recorded a vital win at home to Slovan Bratislava (2–1) last Thursday. Mountfield now have four straight wins after losing the opening game to Plzeň in overtime, and are feeling good about themselves heading into their last three games. ”We are very pleased with the way that we have played so far and we hope we can pick up a few more points, enough to secure a place in the playoff,” says defenceman Jan Novák.

Plzeň and Mountfield must be considered favourites to take the top two spots. They are the only two teams in the tournament that haven’t lost a game after 60 minutes so far.

If they start picking up some points, Finnish side KalPa still has a remote chance of advancing. KalPa also have three games left, but probably have to win all three in order to have any chance of reaching the Red Bull Salute.

Fellow Finns Oulun Kärpät also have 8 points, but only have one game left and no chance of reaching the playoff. The same applies to Vienna Capitals with 4 points and only one game left.

Stats and schedule:

1. HC Plzeň 1929 – 14 points (21–10)
Remaining games: 31/8: Slavia Praha (a), 6/9: HC ČSOB Pojišťovna Pardubice (h).

2. Slovan Bratislava – 13 points (23–13)
Remaining game: 3/9: Jokerit (a).

3. HC Mountfield – 12 points (13–7)
Remaining games: 1/9: Red Bull Salzburg (a), 3/9: Kometa Brno (a), 6/9: Sparta Praha (h).

4. KalPa – 8 points (10–12)
Remaining games: 31/8: Oulun Kärpät (h), 3/9: Frölunda Indians (a), 4/9: HV71 (a).

5. Oulun Kärpät – 8 points (17–20)
Remaining game: 31/8: KalPa (a).

6. Vienna Capitals – 4 points (14–28)
Remaining game: 3/9: HIFK (a).

More information on the tournament is available at

Sunday, August 28, 2011

4 Czech teams still in contention for European Trophy

All teams were in action on Saturday in the European Trophy, as positioning starts to become clearer. Most teams have now played six of their eight games, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the Red Bull Salute in December.

Prague's two teams did little to help their causes, each losing on home ice to cement their positions at the bottom of the North Division. At Tesla Arena, Sparta was scored on four times in the second period and fell 4-2 to visiting Jokerit Helsinki. The Finnish club was particularly dominant during a 10-minute stretch in the second where Sparta failed to register a shot on goal, and had numerous chances of their own to build up a commanding lead. Sparta came back strong in the third and scored twice, but it was too little, too late. Meanwhile, across town in Eden, Slavia and Helsinki IFK went to a shootout tied 2-2, where Mikael Granlund provided the heroics for the visitors. No stranger to providing highlight-reel goals, Granlund beat goaltender Dominik Furch with a move similar to the one used by Peter Forsberg in the 1994 Olympics to secure the victory.

Four other Czech teams in action on Saturday, however, are still in contention for positions in the Red Bull Salute, the eight-team event in Austria that will determine the winner of the European Trophy.

In České Budějovice, Jakub Kovář made 18 saves as Mountfield shut out the Vienna Capitals 4-0. The win allowed them to leap-frog over Plzeň 1929 into second place in the East Division. Plzeň picked up only a single point as they fell to visiting Slovan Bratislava 5-4 in a shootout. The home team trailed 4-1 midway through the game before scoring three in a row to force overtime. They were led in a losing cause by two goals from Radek Duda and two assists each from Martin Straka and Petr Sýkora. As Mountfield and Plzeň each have two games in hand on division-leading Slovan, they could both conceivably qualify for the Red Bull Salute.

HC Pardubice sits in top spot in the South Division with 12 points, two ahead of HV71 and three ahead of Adler Mannheim. This comes after beating rival Kometa Brno 5-4. Martin Bartek scored the game-winner with 2:07 remaining in regulation time. Pardubice and HV71 each have two games remaining, while Mannheim has three. The loss relegates Kometa to last in the division with five points.

Bílí Tygři Liberec sits in fourth place in the South with seven points, but remain in contention because they have two games in hand on most other teams. They helped their cause on Saturday night by taking two points in Linkoping, with veteran Petr Nedvěd scoring the shootout winner.

Liberec is back in action on Sunday in Oulu against Kärpät, while Plzeň, Brno and Pardubice all host Finnish clubs. The Kometa Brno-Jokerit Helsinki game can be seen at 18:00 CET on ČT4 or online at All games can be followed live online at

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Good night for Czech teams

by Per Csongrádi

Thursday night was a good night for the Czech teams in the European Trophy. Five of the Czech teams were in action. Four of them won. And HC Mountfield České Budějovice and HC Plzeň 1929 applied a lot of preassure on Slovan Bratislava at the top of the East Division.

Slovan looked very strong at the start of the tournament when they picked up 11 points out of a possible 12 in their first four games. But all of those four games were played at home in the Slovak capital of Bratislava.
Thursday night they travelled to Budejovice and for the second game in a row suffered a defeat as the hometeam, HC Mountfield, won the game 2–1.

Mountfield showed from the first face-off that they were intent on grabbing the chance to catch Slovan Bratislava at the top of the table. The homeside came out flying and was in complete control of the first period. They won the shots 22–5 and even played 5-on-3 for over a minute. But it wasn’t until only 1:12 remained in the period that the first goal came. Pavel Kasparik won a faceoff and Jan Novák fired the puck past Branislav Konrad in the Slovan goal.

The home side created the most and the best chances in the second period as well and also took a 2–0-lead on a power play when, once again, Novak shot from the blueline. This time, man-of-the-match Konrad saved the shot, but couldn’t prevent Jakub Langhammer from scoring on the rebound.

But Slovan bounced back quickly when team captain Michal Hudec, who spent five seasons playing for the Budějovice team, cut the lead in half only 27 seconds after the second goal for the home team, to set up an interesting last 20 minutes.

The expected push for an equalizer didn’t really come, though, and despite playing 3-on-5 and despite Slovan pulling Konrad in goal with a minute and a half left, Mountfield could hold on to the lead and the three points.

The result put them only two points behind Slovan with two games in hand.

Radek Duda's 2-point effort helped Plzeň beat
Vienna 3-1 on Thursday. Photo:
The result also gave compatriots HC Plzeň 1929 the chance to close the gap to one point at the top of the division if they managed to defeat Vienna Capitals at home. And that was exactly what they did. After a goalless first period, Petr Sýkora opened the scoring in the second, assisted by Radek Duda on a power play. The lead was doubled when Sýkora returned the favor and Duda scored on another power play early in the third period.

A third power-play goal on the night cut the lead in half, when Jonathan Ferland made it 2–1, but Plzeň didn’t let the Austrians any closer and with nine seconds left, Tomáš Vlasák made sure of the win when he scored a third in the empty net.

”We have a big desire to win, no matter who we play and I think we ade our fans happy today” said Duda after the game. ”On the other side, we can do things better and we hope we can prove that in the next game.” That is the very important game at home against Slovan Bratislava on Saturday. A win there will put Plzeň top of the division and in a nice position to qualify for the Red Bull Salute. A defeat can be costly.

In the North Division, top of the table Djurgården has no games this week, giving the chasing teams the possibility to make up some ground on them. Finnish Jokerit took that chance and defeated Slavia Praha 4–2 in a game that was won in two minutes and two seconds towards the end of the first period. Teemu Pulkkinen, Jeremy Dehner and Janne Lahti scored a goal each to make it 3–0 to Jokerit. The team from Prague never really recovered from those blows.

”We need to pick up maximum points from the three games this week in order to really challenge for a place in the playoff” said Jokerit coach Erkka Westerlund before the trip to the Czech Republic. The first three are in the bag and Jokerit advanced into second place of the division since their Finnish compatriots Helsinki IFK lost their game also played in the Czech capital.

HIFK, unbeaten so far with eight points out of a possible nine before Thursdays game opened the scoring 1:55 into the second period and was the better of the two teams in the opening two periods. But Sparta turned the game around in the third period, with one goal from Peter Jánský and one from Petr Tenkrat. Jerry Antola looked to have salvaged a point from HIFK late in the third period, but another strike from Tenkrat gave Sparta a glimmer of hope of finding a way into the Red Bull Salute. But in order to keep that hope alive, they need a win against Jokerit on Saturday.

Swedish Luleå, also kept a flicker of hope alive as two penalties gave them two points at home against Finnish side Oulun Kärpät. First, Johan Harju scored the goal the tied the game with a little over four minutes left on a penalty shot. Then Mattias Persson scored the gamewinning goal in the penalty shootout.

The South and West divisions look to be real tight when it comes to which teams will advance into the Red Bull Salute. The games on Thursday only made it even more uncertain in those two divisions.

In the South Adler Mannheim lost their 100-percent record when Linköping won 2–0 with two power-play goals from Mikael Håkanson and Niclas Hävelid. And in the same division Bílí Tygři Liberec kept HV71 scoreless as the Czechs won 3–0 away from home to close in on the other teams in the division, having only played three games so far.

All seven Czech teams are in action on Saturday night. Games can be followed live at

Friday, August 19, 2011

Brno & Znojmo to host U18 World Championship

The IIHF is reporting on its website that the 2012 U18 Men's World Championship will be held in the Brno and Znojmo, Czech Republic. The tournament will run from April 12 to 22.

Brno's Hala Rondo will host the final of the 2012 IIHF U18 World
Championship. Photo:
The tournament was originally scheduled to be held in Switzerland, but they backed out in May due to a lack of willing host cities. On June 8, it was announced that the Czech Republic would step in to host the tournament, but the host cities were still unkown. Though it wasn't expected to be announced until next week's  IIHF meeting in Istanbul, we know know that the two South Moravian cities which are 70 kilometres apart will host.

Brno's 7,200-seat Hala Rondo will be the primary venue. It will probably host Group A, which includes Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and the USA, as well as the medal round. Znojmo's 5,500-seat Hostan Arena will probably host Group B, which includes Germany, Latvia, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland.

A couple of other Moravian cities, Zlín and Přerov, will host the U18 Women's World Championship. That tournament starts December 31 and runs to January 7.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Slovakia hires Czech coach

by Fredrik Pålsson

The executive committee of the Slovak Ice Hockey Association announced on Wednesday that Klimkovice's Vladimír Vůjtek Sr. is the new coach of the Slovak national team. The contract runs from September 1, 2011 to 2012 with an option to extend it over the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Vladimír Vůjtek Sr., shown coaching Vítkovice.
The senior Vůjtek, father of former NHLer Vladimír Vůjtek Jr., has been coaching in Russia for the last three seasons, last at Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. He also coached many years in the Czech Extraliga with Vítkovice, Zlín and Třinec. He won the Russian championship twice with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (2002 and 2003) and reached the final of the Czech Extraliga playoffs three times.

Vůjtek replaces Glen Hanlon, who coached Slovakia during the World Championship on home ice this spring. Their 10th-place finish was a huge disappointment and, with Vůjtek behind the bench, Slovakia has great hopes for better results.

Slovak Peter Oremus, who currenty is coach of HK 36 Skalica, was announced as his assistant coach.

Machač remembered

Last week, I was in Břeclav, reporting on the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. While most of my attention was on the games, I also tried to keep an eye on what else was going on in the hockey world. Last Wednesday, it was reported that a Czech hockey star from the past, Oldřich Machač (pictured), passed away after a lengthy illness at age 67.

Prior to that night's game between the Czech Republic and Sweden, as fans began sitting down after the playing of the national anthems, the public address announcer began announcing, in Czech, about Machač's passing. Knowing that a moment of silence was about to follow, I returned to my feet. Some Swedish fans behind me, who couldn't understand the announcement, asked me what was happening. I told them, and they asked who it was for. My answer was simply, "A player from the Czechoslovakian national team from the '70s."

My short answer was partly because I assumed they wouldn't know who he was, but partly because, apart from his name and time period when he played, I didn't really know anything either. Of course, Czech hockey fans of a certain age have no such problem. I didn't have to speak to many before I even found some who knew him in person, and apparently he was one hell of a nice guy. I also learned that he was a bruising defenceman with a booming slapshot from the point who starred domestically for Brno and won three World Championship gold medals.

Last December, Joe Pelletier of Greatest Hockey Legends wrote about an interesting piece about the crossing of paths between Machač and Bobby Orr, two great blueliners of their era, following the 1976 Canada Cup. On the ice at the Montreal Forum after the last game, which Canada won in overtime, the players on each team traded sweaters, as was the tradition in international hockey at the time. The two number 4s traded jerseys, and there is a photograph of Orr appearing in Machač's red ČSSR jersey (right).

The article goes on to explore more about Machač's career. His most notable accomplishment may be his 293 international games played for Czechoslovakia, which is second only to the great Jiří Holík.

You can read the full article here:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Canada wins 4th straight Ivan Hlinka title

They didn't look like gold medalists when they dropped a 5-1 decision to Sweden on Monday. But on Saturday night, Canada once again took on the Swedes and beat them 4-1 in Břeclav. In between, each team won three games. Their fortunes mirrored each other but, unfortunately for Sweden, they won the wrong game.

In Saturday's gold-medal contest, the teams traded early chances and power plays, and Canada struck first halfway through the first period when they converted with the man advantage. After a flurry of chances, Sean Monahan pounced on a rebound in close and fired it into the roof of the net over Oscar Dansk to make the score 1-0. The opening frame was a physical one, with Thomas Wilson on the giving and receiving end of it. Early on, he collided with Sweden's Anton Cederholm and went down, the latter earning a kneeing penalty. A few minutes later, Wilson hammered Jesper Pettersson behind the Swedish net. Late in the period, Philip Sandberg had a glorious chance to tie the score short-handed when he stripped the puck at the Canadian blueline and walked in alone on Daniel Altshuller.

The  netminder who has surrendered only 2 goals since last facing Sweden didn't blink, and kept his team in the lead into the intermission. Altshuller played all but 20 minutes of the Canadian team's five games in six days, but she showed no sign of fatigue. "You know, it's just pure adrenaline. We're all just playing hard. No one wants to let the team down."

Sweden almost got another short-handed breakaway midway through the second when the dangerous Sebastian Collberg saw daylight in front of him, but Derrick Poulliot pulled him down and was called for holding. On the ensuing power play, Calle Andersson's flutterball from the point went over Altshuller's shoulder to tie the score. Canada got the lead back three minutes later, however, when Sean Laughton managed to force the puck across the line on a wild goalmouth scramble. 

The lead remained a slim 2-1 margin at the end of the second, but Brendan Gaunce gave Canada a bit of breathing room in the first minute of the third. Then with less than eight minutes to play, Charles Hudon converted a great pass from Jarrod Martens on another power play to put the Canadians firmly in the driver's seat. It gave Hudon 9 points for the tournament, good for second in overall scoring. 

Sweden got some chances in the late going, but generally Canada did a good job of protecting the lead and skated away with a 4-1 victory and the Ivan Hlinka Cup.

For defenceman Morgan Rielly, who was a member of Canada's fourth-place team at last spring's IIHF U18 World Championship, this victory was sweet redemption. "Oh yeah, absolutely," he said. "It was a pretty amazing experience in Germany in April but, I mean, to win this was a pretty awesome experience and I'm just glad to be part of it."

In Piešťany, meanwhile, Russia beat Finland 2-1 in a shootout to win the bronze medal. For Russia, Denis Kamayev scored early in the second to open the scoring and the shootout winner as well. He finishes with 7 points. The overall scoring leader was Finland's Teuvo Teräväinen. He scored Finland's lone goal on Saturday, which was his 5th goal and 10th point.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Canada and Sweden advance to Ivan Hlinka Final

The championship game at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial will feature a re-match of the tournament's first day. Sweden beat Canada 5-1 in the first game in Břeclav on Monday, and they'll meet again on the same ice in the tournament's last game.

In Friday's semifinals, Canada blasted Russia 5-0 in Piešťany while Sweden needed overtime to get by Finland 4-3 in Břeclav.

In Canada's victory, the 5-0 score might have actually been flattering to Russia. Canada outshot them by an incredible 44-6 total, with Daniel Altshuller posting the relatively easy shutout. Offensively, Canada was led by 2 goals and 1 assist from Charles Hudon. Hudon now has 8 points in the tournament, which puts him in second place in tournament scoring, one behind Finland's Tuevo Teräväinen.

"I told Charles before the tournament that he's going to have to be a guy we rely on for offence," said coach Steve Spott, of a team that was thought to be offensively challenged. However, after getting hammered in the opening game, they have since outscored their opponents 17-1.

Sweden enters the final as the tournament's lone unbeaten team, but that record received a scare on Friday from their Scandinavian rivals, needing overtime to beat Finland.

The Finns led 1-0 after a period but Sweden scored twice late in the second, setting the stage for a thrilling third period. Finland scored twice in a five-minute span, Rasmus Kulmara on a power-play and Henri Ikonen on a breakaway, to take a 3-2 lead with 9:14 to go. Then with 6:41 remaining, Malte Stromwall sent a blast off the post and in to tie the score once more. The Swedes then pressed hard for the go-ahead marker, but couldn't beat Joonas Korpisalo for the rest of regulation.

In overtime, it was their captain and best player, Filip Forsberg, who provided the heroics. "I think we held the puck for most of the overtime, and Elias Lindholm got the puck on the blueline and then he shot on net and I was in the right place for the rebound."

Regarding the final game, Forsberg said, "It's going to be a tough game against Canada, but we played them once already and we won and I think we can do it again."

In the game for fifth place, the USA defeated the Czech Republic 3-1 in Břeclav, while Switzerland clamed 7th by shutting out Slovakia 6-0 in Piešťany.

On Saturday, the bronze-medal game between Russia and Finland in Piešťany begins at 15:00 CET, 16:00 EET. The championship game between Sweden and Canada in Břeclav begins at 17:00 CET, 11am ET, 8am PT.  Both games can be followed live online at

Thursday, August 11, 2011

European Trophy starts Thursday

The European Trophy, a 24-team, six-nation pre-season tournament kicks off on Thursday, with three Czech teams in action against Swedish opponents.

Pardubice fans will get a chance to see Jan Hlaváč
suit up for visiting Linköpings on Thursday.
Two open at home: Sparta Praha hosts Jönköping-based HV71 at Tesla Arena, while cumbersomely-named ČSOB Pojišťovna Pardubice take to the ice at ČEZ Arena against Linköpings HC, whose roster includes ex-Sparta players Jan Hlaváč and Jaroslav Hlinka. Slavia Praha, meanwhile, travels to Stockholm to take on Djurgårdens IF.

"The players feel that this competition is on a different level. The European Trophy is something else," said Pardubice general manager Zbyněk Kusý, comparing the tournament to normal pre-season games. "I'm sure it will be something different than we were accustomed to when playing with a team from the Extraliga or First League, where the main goal before the season is to avoid injury. This will be more competitive, a chance to test ourselves against European clubs, so it will surely be an attractive sporting event."

For now, the European Trophy is only a pre-season tournament, but there are rumours that member clubs would like to see it grow into more. That could possibly mean as inter-league competition that would complement existing national leagues, or as an entirely separate entity that would become the top tier of hockey in Europe and compete with the Russian-based KHL for top talent.

The European Trophy is not affiliated with the IIHF. The sport's world governing body tried to re-launch the Champions Hockey League last season, but that attempt was aborted due to ongoing disputes with clubs and leagues over its 2009 termination.

More information, including the schedule and how to follow games live can be found at the tournament's website,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Semifinal schedule set at Ivan Hlinka Memorial

The final games in the group stage were played Wednesday at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. In Břeclav, Canada shut out Switzerland 6-0 and Sweden defeated the Czech Republic 5-3. In Piešťany, Russia beat Finland 3-1 and the USA edged Slovakia 6-5 in a shootout.

Group A finishes with Sweden on top with 9 points, followed by Canada with 6, the Czech Republic with 3 and Switzerland pointless. By virtue of their win today, Russia wins Group B with 7 points, one ahead of Finland with 6. The USA finishes with 4 points and Slovakia with 1.

On Friday, each site will host one semifinal and one placement game. Both semifinal match-ups feature historic hockey rivalries. Canada and Russia, who have long battled for the sport's supremacy, will face off in Piešťany at 17:30 CET, 11:30am ET, 8:30am PT. Ninety minutes later, hockey's two Scandinavian powers, Sweden and Finland, will renew acquaintances in Břeclav.

The other four teams will finish their tournament earlier in the day. The Czech Republic will host the USA in the game for fifth place in Břeclav at 15:30 CET, 9:30am ET, 6:30am PT. The US beat the Czechs 5-3 in a pre-tournament game on Saturday. In Piešťany, Slovakia and Switzerland will try to avoid the tournament's basement starting at 14:00.

The bronze medal game and the championship game will be played on Saturday. Which site will host which game depends on the semifinal results, as the semifinal winner who finished higher in the group stage will stay put, while their opponent will have to travel. The other city will then host the bronze medal game.

All games can be followed live at

Group A:          GP  W OW OL  L GF:GA PT  
1. Sweden          3  3  0  0  0  14:7  9
2. Canada          3  2  0  0  1  13:6  6
3. Czech Republic  3  1  0  0  2  7:12  3
4. Switzerland     3  0  0  0  3  4:13  0

Group B:
          GP  W OW OL  L GF:GA PT
1. Russia          3  2  0  1  0  12:8  7
2. Finland         3  2  0  0  1  17:8  6
3. USA             3  0  2  0  1 14:15  4
4. Slovakia        3  0  0  1  2  9:21  1

Friday, August 12:
 14:00 Slovakia-Switzerland (7th place, Piešťany)
 15:30 Czech Republic-USA (5th place, Břeclav)
 17:30 Russia-Canada (semifinal, Piešťany)
 19:00 Sweden-Finland (semifinal, Břeclav)

Saturday, August 13:
 15:00 Final or bronze-medal game (Piešťany)
 17:00 Final or bronze-medal game (Břeclav)

Czech U18s fall heavily to Canada

The Czech Republic went into their Tuesday night encounter against Canada with an opportunity to clinch a spot in the semifinals, while simultaneously ending the Canadians' medal hopes. By the end of the game, the fortunes of both teams had reversed dramatically.

Canada rebounded from a dismal opening game against Sweden, outshooting the Czechs 43-14 and outscoring them 6-1. Goaltender Marek Langhamer, who was the Czech player of the game, kept the Canadians off the scoresheet for one period, but the floodgates opened in the second. 

After Morgan Reilly and Pavel Sedláček traded goals early in the second, the Canadians scored three times in a 2:09 span in the middle of the period to take control of the game. The crowd of 2,023 in Břeclav had been enthusiastic up until then, but showed not much life after the game's midpoint, much like the Czech team.

“It was the response we wanted,” said Canadian captain Mathew Dumba, who picked up a goal and an assist. “We talked last night that we’ve got to come together as a team and we got away from that a little bit yesterday. Today we played a gritty, hard game and it paid off.”

With the loss, the Czechs now need to beat the Swedes and get help to advance. Coach Jiří Veber emphasized the need to come out with a good effort. "After the game against Canada, we had a short speech to the players. The game is over, learn from it, but otherwise turn the page and get ready for the next opponent. I think we need to go into the game with the Swedes with a clear head, and that some of the players realize what is needed for success."

The Swedes go into Wednesday's game all but assured a spot in the semis after their 4-3 victory over Switzerland.  Sweden sits atop Group A with 6 points, followed by the Czechs and Canada with 3 each, while Switzerland remains pointless. By virtue of Tuesday's win, Canada holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Czechs, meaning that the Czechs need to earn more points than Canada on Wednesday.

The highlight game in Piešťany was between two medal contenders: USA and Russia. After dropping their opener against Finland, the game was critically important for the Americans, whose semifinal hopes would have disappeared with a loss. They won 5-4 in overtime to claim 2 points, but they could have had 3.

Down 3-1 with 13 minutes to play, the Russians struck twice in a span of 1:39 to tie the score. The Americans regained the lead when Cristoval Nieves scored with 4:46 left in regulation time, but Timur Shingaryeyev tied it for Russia with 1:44 to play. Vincent Hinostroza, with his second goal of the game, salvaged the tournament for the Americans by scoring in overtime, but they’ll still need to win their last game against Slovakia and hope Finland beats Russia.

That’s because Finland is clear to the semifinals. After opening with a 6-3 victory over the US, the Finns pounded Slovakia 10-2 on Tuesday to improve to 2-0. Teuvo Teräväinen scored 2 goals and 3 assists to increase his two-game total to 8 points, which leads all tournament scorers. In Group B, Finland leads with 6 points, followed by Russia with 4, USA with 2, and Slovakia is pointless.

All games of the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament can be followed live at

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Czechs, Swedes, Finns and Russians all win on Day 1

Playing in a tough group, the Czech U18 team knew it had to win its opener against Switzerland if it were to entertain any thoughts of advancing to the semifinals and they did just that. The hosts got goals in the last minute of the first and second periods from Dominik Volek and team captain Patrik Machač, respectively to jump out to the lead. The teams traded goals in the third, with Volek getting his second of the night before Vincent Praplan broke Patrik Polívka's shutout bid with 4:04 to play, converting on a nice backhander in front.

Dominik Volek. Photo: Jan Čech,
Karlovarský deník,
The game was marred by foggy conditions inside the arena, which made it difficult for players, officials and fans to follow the puck at times. The problem was at its worst in the third, when the Swiss had a goal disallowed due to a quick whistle from the referee, who had lost sight of it. Moments later, Martin Matějček was stopped on a breakaway by Swiss goaltender Robin Kuonen, and the puck then sat loose in the crease for several seconds with nobody able to find it.

"It's muggy outside, and the quality of the ice suffered a bit," said coach Jiří Veber afterward. "But this is the same for all teams. The game took a lot out of the players for both teams, so it will be important to recuperate quickly. On Tuesday evening we can expect another tough battle with Canada."

Tuesday's Czech-Canada game starts at 19:00 CET, 1pm ET and 10am PT.  In the Czech Republic, the game can be seen live on ČT4 television and online at The Canadians are 0-1 following their opening-day loss to Sweden, and will be looking to get their first points. The first game of the day in Břeclav features 1-0 Sweden against 0-1 Switzerland at 15:30.

Meanwhile, in Piešťany, Finland doubled the USA 6-3 and Russia beat the host Slovaks 5-2. The Finns were led by a pair of goals and an assist from Teuvo Teräväinen, while Russia got the same from Denis Kamayev. The USA and Russia start things off on Tuesday at 14:00 CET, 8am ET, 5am PT, while Slovakia hosts Finland in the later game at 17:30.

All games can be followed live at

Monday, August 8, 2011

Swedes use PP to topple Canada in Ivan Hlinka opener

The opening game in Břeclav at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament was a chippy affair between Sweden and Canada. There were lots of penalties, making specialty teams the dominant story. Sweden scored four times with the man advantage, while Canada did so only once, and Sweden won the game 5-1.

The Swedes won the battle of the specialty teams and that was in large part due to the enormous presence of the Swedish captain Filip Forsberg. While he’s not related to the more famous Forsberg, he seems an equally imposing figure, and some of the Swedish fans in attendance were even chanting the nickname “Foppa”, as Peter Forsberg was called.

With Sweden ahead 1-0, Forsberg wired a slapshot by Canadian goaltender Daniel Altshuller to make the score 2-0. Though it was his only point of the night, he provided valuable fore-checking on a Swedish power plan that cashed in twice more in the second to make it 4-0. Leading the point parade with 3 was Sebastian Collberg, who is currently ranked 18th among prospects for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, with a goal and 2 assists. 

The Canadians needed desperately to get back into the game with a power-play goal of their own, and got the chance late in the second. They put on good sustained pressure for the first time all game, but that ended when Forsberg picked up a loose puck and pushed away a Canadian checker like he was made of cardboard.  He went in on goal with helpless Canadian backcheckers unable to do a thing. Though Altshuller managed to stop him, he paid for it, with the giant Swede crashing into the goaltender and shaking him up.

Canada finally got on the board in the third period period, naturally on the power play, when Charles Hudon sent a shot off the post and in. Late in the third, Sweden took two major penalties 22 seconds apart. First Amil Krupic was sent to the showers for checking Andreas Athanasiou to the head, and then Elias Lindholm followed him for steamrolling Altshuller behind the Canadian goal. The Swedes were reduced to three skaters for the final five minutes of regulation time, but Canada was unable to capitalize. In the final minute, Swedish defenceman Jesper Pettersson scored the game’s only non-power-play goal, a short-handed empty-netter which he fired from his own zone.

“That’s something we’ve got to work on," Canada’s Griffin Reinhart said about the special teams. "If we’re going to get into games where we’re taking 10-plus penalties, we’ve gotta make sure the PK is strong and we bury our chances on the power play.“

The second game of the group involves the host Czechs against Switzerland, starting at 19:00 CET. Live updates for all games can be found at

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Swiss top U19 event in Strakonice

Switzerland's aim to establish itself as one of the elite hockey nations of the world got a minor shot in the arm this weekend, when they won a four-team U19 mini-tournament in Strakonice, Czech Republic. The Swiss and Czechs finished tied with 6 points each, but the Swiss took first by winning the head-to-head match-up 4-2. Slovakia finished third with 4 points, and Germany was last with 2.

Lino Martschini, who plays for the OHL's Peterborough Petes, led tourament scorers with 4 points in three games, while linemate Richard Tanner and Czech Tomáš Fořt each had 3. Two of the more noteworthy names in the tournament, Switzerland's Sven Bartschi and the Czech Republic's Martin Frk, each recorded 2 points. Bartschi, a first-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames, will attend the NHL club's training camp next month, while Frk, a highly-rated prospect for 2012, is expected to re-join the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads once he gets a visa issue cleared.

The key to Switzerland's success in this tournament was defence, as they surrendered only 5 goals in three games. Goaltender Lukas Meili surrendered only 2 goals in two games and posted a tournament-high .941 save percentage. 

Long on the periphery of the core of great hockey nations, Switzerland has produced many prospects in recent years and has consistently out-performed the other three teams in this tournament at IIHF championships in the U20 and U18 categories. The Swiss finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at the last two World Junior Championships, while the Czechs, Slovaks and Germans all battled in the relegation round.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

TV for Czech-Canada at Ivan Hlinka Tourney

Czech television clearly sees the Czech Republic-Canada match-up at the upcoming Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament as the most attractive one for its viewers. So much so that they have pulled some strings to have the Tuesday and Wednesday schedules for the group in Břeclav switched. The Czech-Canada contest, the only one that will be televised, will now go Tuesday, August 9 at 19:00 CET, 1pm ET and 10am PT. It will be on ČT4 in the Czech Republic and streamed online at

Czech TV viewers will get a chance to see Griffin Reinhart
(pictured) and the rest of Canada U18 take on the host Czech
on Tuesday. Photo:
For the Canadians, who will be going for their fourth straight win at the summer tournament, the 22 players named to the roster survived a rigorous camp that included many of the top prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The final tournament roster includes 10 players ranked among the top 30 prospects, led by Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings at number 7 . The full roster can be found here:

“It was a very competitive camp, and choosing these 22 players was by no means an easy task,” said Canadian head coach Steve Spott. “All of the players named today have earned their spot on the roster, and we look forward to getting to Europe and continuing Canada’s great tradition at this event.”

In addition to the game against Canada, the host Czechs also play group-stage games against Switzerland and Sweden, which follow a pre-tournament game against the USA on Saturday. Asked if he thought he faced stiff competition, coach Jiří Veber said, "Sure, but I welcome it. It is good that we have this opportunity. This is the best preparation for the World Championship, which next spring will take place in our country."

Though the Czech-Canada game will be the only one televised from the tournament, Czech Hockey Report will be on hand for all the action for the group in Břeclav starting on Monday. Live updates will be available on Twitter @Djob76.

The roster for the Czech team is listed below. The preceding link from shows the rosters from all competing teams:


Marek Langhammer (Pardubice), Patrik Polívka (Plzeň).


Petr Šidlík (Jihlava), Karel Plášil (Č. Budějovice), Michal Plutnar (Liberec), Jan Košťálek (Sparta Praha), Jakub Houfek (Plzeň), Ronald Knot (Slavia Praha), Adam Hawlik (Vítkovice).


Eustathio Soumelidis (Lukko Rauma, Finland), Richard Zehnal (Sioux City, USHL), Martin Matějček, Dominik Simon, Dominik Volek (all Sparta Praha), Richard Nejezchleb (Slavia Praha), Jan Schleiss (Plzeň), Patrik Machač (Kladno), Jan Hudeček, Ondřej Slováček (both Vítkovice), Tomáš Franek (Třinec), Pavel Sedláček (Zlín), Matěj Zadražil (K. Vary).


Daniel Dolejš (H. Brod), Lukáš Buchta (Zlín), Tomáš Prokop (Č. Budějovice), Michal Jonáš (Třinec), Marek Bail (Vítkovice), Jan Trübenekr (Litvínov), Ladislav Marek (Ml. Boleslav), Josef Mikyska (Liberec), Vojtěch Tomeček (K. Vary).

 Jiří Veber, Jakub Petr
General Manager: Jakub Petr
Goaltending Coach: Marek Novotný
Physician: Dr. Jiří Dvořák
Equipment Manager:
 Jaroslav Brabec

Pre-tournament exhibition games:

Saturday, August 6:
 17:30 Slovakia - Canada (Piešťany)
 18:30 Czech Republic - USA (Břeclav)

2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament schedule:

Monday, August 8:
 14:00 Finland - USA (Piešťany)
 15:30 Canada - Sweden (Břeclav)
 17:30 Slovakia - Russia (Piešťany)
 19:00 Czech Republic - Switzerland (Břeclav)

Tuesday, August 9:
 14:00 USA - Russia (Piešťany)
 15:30 Switzerland - Sweden (Břeclav)
 17:30 Slovakia - Finland (Piešťany)
 19:00 Czech Republic - Canada (Břeclav) ČT4 Sport

Wednesday, August 10:
 14:00 Russia - Finland (Piešťany)
 15:30 Canada - Switzerland (Břeclav)
 17:30 Slovakia - USA (Piešťany)
 19:00 Czech Republic - Sweden (Břeclav)

Friday, August 12:
 14:00 A4 - B4 or A3 - B3 (Piešťany)
 15:30 A4 - B4 or A3 - B3 (Břeclav)
 17:30 Semifinal B1 - A2 (Piešťany)
 19:00 Semifinal A1 - B2 (Břeclav)

Saturday, August 13:
 15:00 Final or bronze-medal game (Piešťany)
 17:00 Final or bronze-medal game (Břeclav)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Only $1.5 million? Vokoun’s agent gets the boot

Photo: Rab Bethan.
As every businessman knows, a satisfied customer is the best promotion. Presently, Michael Deutsch, attorney and professional hockey player agent, is faced with the opposite situation. He needs to restore his name after Tomáš Vokoun decided to change agents because Deutsch couldn’t secure a satisfactory contract for his client.

If you were a 35-year-old star goaltender with no Stanley Cup on your list of achievements, you would probably feel that this is your last chance to earn a well-paid, long-term contract on a good NHL team with a chance to win the Stanley Cup. You would be looking forward to July 1 like a child looking forward to Santa Claus. At the start of July you would become a free agent and could make a deal with any team. You would see the upcoming contract negotiations as critically important.

This was the exact situation that Vokoun found himself in this summer. His $6.3 million-per-year contract with Florida came to an end and a chance to move to a contender was presented.

But the free-agent market was tough. After three days of free agency, most of the best free agents were already under new contracts but Vokoun still was not. Agent Deutsch wasn’t able to convince any of top clubs to pay $6 million or more and the Czech national team goalie had to settle for less.

He finally signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals, which comes with a Stanley Cup opportunity, but for only $1.5 million.

When a goalie who had one of the top save percentages in the league with a second-rate team like Florida has to sign a $1.5 million contract, one has to wonder what went wrong. A natural reaction is to fire the man who negotiated the contract terms.

Michael Deutsch cannot be happy about it, just as Vokoun cannot be comfortable with forfeiting almost $5 million per year. Other than Washington general manager George McPhee, who landed a premier goaltender for a bargain, the most fortunate man in this situation might be Vokoun’s new agent, Allan Walsh, who will have a shot to negotiate a better contract next summer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Frk headlines Czech U19s in Strakonice

Although there is no IIHF World Championship for the U19 age group, European nations are beginning to concentrate more on this year in preparation for the following year's U20 World Championship.

Martin Frk is an unexpected addition to the Czech U19
roster this weekend. Photo:
Because the U20 event, also known as the World Junior Championship, is held mid-season, preparation for the following year's tournament has, until this year, begun near the start of the calendar year. The preparation "season" for the 2012 World Juniors began this past February with a five-team tournament in Mannheim, Germany, which the Czechs participated in.

This year, perhaps in response to poor results in recent junior-level internatonal tournaments, the Czech Republic and some other European nations have decided to get ready sooner. Preparation for the 2013 World Juniors, which will be held in Ufa, Russia, will begin this week in Strakonice. From Thursday until Saturday, the South-Bohemian town will host a three-team event that includes the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland. Additional events this calendar year will be held in Salzburg, Austria in September and Vaasa, Finland in November.

The biggest name on the Czech roster for the upcoming series will be Martin Frk, a projected first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Frk was supposed to be in Canada already, preparing for the upcoming QMJHL season, but some unexpected red tape has delayed his arrival. "Martin was supposed to fly to Canada, but had visa trouble," said Czech head coach Jiří Juřík. "We are taking advantage of this, and he is with us in Strakonice and will play in the tournament."

Other CHL players on the Czech roster include Lukáš Sedlák and Matěj Beran, but Frk is the only player who has played in the World Junior Championships, appearing at last year's tournament in Buffalo. Players on other teams who also played include Slovakia's Martin Marinčin and Peter Čeresnak, Germany's Marcel Noebels, and Switzerland's Sven Bärtschi, a first-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames.

From, here is the full Czech roster and tournament schedule:

Goaltenders: Jan Dlouhý (Slavia Praha), Patrik Nechvátal (Litvínov).

Defencemen: Jan Předota (Č. Budějovice), Tomáš Kvapil (Lulea, Sweden), Štěpán Jeník (Slavia Praha), Tomáš Valenta (Zlín), David Roupec (Třinec), Tomáš Pavelka, Michal Žvátora (both Vítkovice).

Forwards: Martin Frk (Halifax, QMJHL), Michal Švihálek, Tomáš Rousek (both Č. Budějovice), Lukáš Sedlák (Chicoutimi, QMJHL), Jaromír Kverka, Petr Koblasa (both K. Vary), Jakub Herman, Radim Matuš (both Třinec), Matěj Beran (PEI, QMJHL), Jiří Půhoný (both Pardubice), Pavel Smolka (Litvínov), Tomáš Fořt (Zlín), Patrik Maďar (Liberec).

General Manager: Jaromír Látal
Head Coach: Jiří Juřík
Assistant Coaches: Karel Mlejnek, Miroslav Přerost, Jiří Fischer
Goaltending Coach: Roman Višňák
Physician: Dr. Miroslav Budoš
Treasurer: Jiří Šrámek

Tournament Schedule:

Thursday, September 4:
16:00 Germany - Switzerland
19:15 Czech Republic - Slovakia

Friday, September 5:
16:00 Slovakia - Germany
19:15 Czech Republic - Switzerland

Saturday, August 6:
14:00 Switzerland - Slovakia
Czech Republic - Germany