Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brno and Zlín open preliminaries with wins

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On the opening day of the Czech Extraliga playoffs, Kometa Brno and PSG Zlín both won on home ice to take early leads in their best-of-five preliminary series.

In the Czech Extraliga, the top six teams advance directly to the quarterfinals, while teams seven through ten must play off to determine the other two quarterfinalists. On Wednesday night, those two series began, with seventh-place Zlín hosting tenth-place Oceláři Třinec and eighth-place Kometa Brno hosting ninth-place Rytíři Kladno.

Zlín 3 - 0 Třinec

Last season, Oceláři finished first overall during the regular season and then went on to win the playoff championship as well. If they hope to repeat as league champions, they have a much more difficult road ahead of them as the number 10 seed, and it didn't begin well for them.

Actually, it was anybody's game for two periods, with the game still scoreless, with goaltenders Luboš Horčička and Peter Hamrlík both stopping everything. It wasn't until midway through the third period when Petr Leška opened the scoring, just after Zlín had managed to kill off a penalty. It was the first of three points for Leška, who then assisted on Petr Holík's power-play goal to make it 2-0 and on Petr Čajanek's empty netter to send the home crowd happy.

Brno 5 - 2 Kladno

The 3-0 goal by Roman Erat (left) proved to be the winner.
Photo: Michal Eger,
These same two teams met in a promotion-relegation series in 2009, with Kladno winning to retain its place in the Extraliga. Three years later, they face each other in the elite league's preliminary round. Kladno last appeared in the quarterfinals in 2008, while the Brno club is making its first-ever appearance in the Czech Extraliga playoffs. 

On home ice, Kometa jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead, and it looked like they might run away with this game. However, the Knights of Kladno chipped away and got themselves back into it with a pair of goals from Jaroslav Kalla. He got his team on the board late in the second period and then, in the first minute of the third, his wrist shot to the top corner made it a one-goal hockey game. However, two goals a minute apart restored Brno's three-goal cushion: first Jozef Kovačík on a nice effort and then Miroslav Holec on a delayed penalty. Tomáš Divíšek, with three assists, was Kometa's offensive catalyst of the game. 

For both series, the second games will be played on Thursday night in the same cities before they switch venues for the third games on Saturday. As in the regular season, all playoff games can be seen live streaming online at

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