The Czech Republic hasn't fared well in recent World Junior Championships, but this year they will have one benefit that they did not have the past two seasons, that being the presence of goaltender Petr Mrázek.
|Petr Mrázek will backstop the Czechs at this year's|
WJC in Alberta. Photo: ottawa67s.blogspot.com.
Polášek is now 20 years old, but Mrázek is 19 and still has another year of tournament eligibility. This time around, the Czech Ice Hockey Association was determined to have him on the team, and negotiated a financial settlement which freed him to play.
"This is an extremely helpful step in the interest of representing the Czech Republic, for which I want to thank both the management of HC Vítkovice Steel and personally (club president) František Černík," said ČSLH President Tomáš Král, upon announcing the news. "An extremely high level of competition awaits us in Canada, and we need a goalkeeper of the quality of Petr Mrázek."
Although goaltending has not been the team's only area of concern the past two years, they failed to qualify for the quarter-finals both times. Having the starting goaltender of the Ottawa 67's and draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings on its roster will give the Czech team a much better chance at advancing.
Five others will battle for the remaining two goaltending roster spots. None of them have WJC experience, but Matěj Machovský played very well for the Czech team at last year's U18 World Champonship in Germany.
Defenceman Bohumil Jank and forwards Jakub Culek, Martin Frk, Petr Holík and Petr Straka are the only returning players from last year's squad. All five are expected to not only make the team, but be leaders. Frk, who, barely aged 17, recorded 6 points in six games at last year's tournament in Buffalo, will again be the player who gets the most attention from scouts.
Additionally, defenceman David Musil and right winger Dmitrij Jaškin were both locks to be on last year's team, but both missed due to injury. Both were taken in the second round of last year's NHL Entry Draft, by Edmonton and St. Louis, respectively.
The European-based players will assemble in Rokycany on December 16 and then rendezvous with the North American-based players in Alberta for a short training camp beginning on the 18th. They play a pair of pre-tournament exhibition games before opening their Group B schedule against Denmark on December 27. Also competing in their group is Canada, the USA and Finland. The top three teams advance to the quarter-finals, with the top team receiving a bye to the semis.
Here is the preliminary roster:
Patrik Bartošák (Red Deer, WHL), Libor Kašík (Zlín/Olomouc), Tomáš Král (Oulu, Finland), Matěj Machovský (Brampton, OHL), Petr Mrázek (Ottawa, OHL), Roman Will (Moncton, QMJHL).
Tomáš Bartejs (Chomutov), Marek Hrbas (Kamloops, WHL), Bohumil Jank (Poprad, KHL), Daniel Krejčí (Slavia Praha), Vojtěch Mozík (Ml. Boleslav), David Musil (Vancouver, WHL), Richard Nedomlel (Swift Current, WHL), Filip Pavlík (Třinec/Ústí), Jiří Říha (Liberec/Benátky), Daniel Sobotka (Sparta Praha/Beroun), Petr Zámorský (Zlín).
Jakub Culek (Rimouski, QMJHL), Tomáš Filippi (Baie-Comeau, QMJHL), Tomáš Fořt (Zlín), Martin Frk (Halifax, QMJHL), Tomáš Hertl (Slavia Praha), Petr Holík (Zlín), Tomáš Hyka (Gatineau, QMJHL), Dmitrij Jaškin (Slavia Praha), Jan Káňa (Brno), Denis Kindl (Montréal, QMJHL), Tomáš Nosek (Pardubice), Tomáš Rousek (Č. Budějovice), Petr Plaček (Harvard Univ., ECAC), Daniel Přibyl, Tomáš Rubeš (both Sparta Praha), Lukáš Sedlák (Chicoutimi, QMJHL), Jiří Sekáč (Poprad, KHL), David Stach (Lukko Rauma, Finland), Petr Straka (Rimouski, QMJHL), Michal Švihálek (Č. Budějovice), Dominik Uher (Spokane, WHL), Michal Vachovec (K. Vary), Jaroslav Vlach (Liberec/Benátky).
Coaches: Miroslav Přerost, Jiří Kučera, Jiří Fischer.
Pre-tournament exhibition games:
Tue, Dec 20: Czech Republic-Latvia (Okotoks)
Thu, Dec 22: Czech Republic-Russia (Lethbridge)
Group B games (at Edmonton):
Tue, Dec 27: Czech Republic-Denmark (6pm MT, 02:00 CET)
Wed, Dec 28: Canada-Czech Republic (6pm MT, 02:00 CET)
Fri, Dec 30: USA-Czech Republic (1:30pm MT, 21:30 CET)
Sat, Dec 31: Czech Republic-Finland (2pm MT, 22:00 CET)