Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Top Euro teams tune up for Worlds in Brno

This weekend, Europe’s top four hockey nations finish their year-long preparation for the World Championships at the Kajot Hockey Games in Brno, which also happen to be the final leg of the 2011-12 Euro Hockey Tour.

The Czech Republic welcomes the national teams of Finland, Russia and Sweden to the country’s second city this weekend. The three visiting teams have each already hosted a stop on the tour this year, and now it’s the Czech Republic’s turn. Five of the six round-robin games will take place at Brno’s Kajot Arena with one game, this Thursday, at St. Petersburg Sport Palace in Russia.

It’s been an exciting spring for hockey fans in Brno. They saw their professional club, Kometa, make a Cinderella run to the Extraliga finals and come within two wins of reaching its first national title in 46 years. At the same time, they hosted the U18 World Championships, which concluded this past Sunday. Now they’ll get to witness the most interesting part of the Euro Hockey Tour. Not only is it interesting because the winner will be decided, but because it is the only leg of the tour that includes NHL players; the first three legs are played during the season, but the NHL regular schedule has now finished, meaning that several NHLers from the four participating countries will be involved. Notable additions include Aleš Hemský of Edmonton, Kari Lehtonen of Dallas, Victor Hedman of Tampa Bay, and Semyon Varlamov of Colorado.

The Tour standings themselves are remarkably close, with all four teams still capable of winning. After 12 games each, only six points, which is the equivalent of two wins, separate first-place Sweden from fourth-place Finland. As well, no team has a goals for/goals against differential greater than 1.

Last year, the Czech Republic won the Brno tournament, giving Czech fans a reason to be optimistic about this year’s team.

After the tournament concludes on Sunday, the four teams will head to Scandinavia, where they will start the World Championships on Friday, May 4. Sweden will host the Czech Republic and Russia in Group B in Stockholm, while Finland will host Group A action in Helsinki.

Below are the rosters of the four participating teams for the Kajot Hockey Games, followed by the tournament schedule and the current Tour standings.



Jakub Štěpánek
(St. Petersburg, KHL), Jakub Kovář (České Budějovice), Tomáš Pöpperle (Sparta Praha).


Petr Čáslava (CSKA Moscow, KHL), Ondřej Němec (Cherepovets, KHL), Miroslav Blaťák, Jakub Nakládal (both Ufa, KHL), Jakub Kindl (Detroit, NHL), Lukáš Krajíček(Minsk, KHL), Tomáš Mojžíš (Turku, Finland), Zdeněk Kutlák (Ambri-Piotta, Switzerland),Jakub Krejčík (Slavia Praha), Tomáš Kudělka (Vítkovice Steel), Petr Zámorský (Zlín), Tomáš Žižka (Kometa Brno).


Tomáš Plekanec
(Montréal, NHL), Aleš Hemský (Edmonton, NHL), Jiří Tlustý(Carolina, NHL), Tomáš Vincour (Dallas, NHL), Lukáš Kašpar, Jiří Novotný (both Astana, KHL), Petr Průcha (St. Petersburg, KHL), Jakub Petružálek (Khabarovsk, KHL), Petr Nedvěd (Bílí Tygři Liberec), Petr Koukal (Pardubice), Michal Vondrka (Slavia Praha), Jan Kovář (Plzeň 1929), Petr Tenkrát (Sparta Praha), Petr Holík (Zlín), Jakub Svoboda (Kometa Brno).

Coaches: Alois Hadamczik and Josef Paleček




Kari Lehtonen (Dallas, NHL), Petri Vehanen (Kazan, KHL), Joni Ortio (Turku).


Pasi Puistola (Cherepovets, KHL), Janne Niskala (Atlant Mytischi, KHL), Lasse Kukkonen (Magnitogorsk, KHL), Juuso Hietanen (N. Novgorod, KHL), Mikko Mäenpää (Khabarovsk, KHL), Topi Jaakola (Lulea, Sweden), Ossi Väänänen (Jokerit Helsinki), Mikko Kousa, Toni Söderholm (both IFK Helsinki).


Mikko Koivu (Minnesota, NHL), Petteri Nokelainen (Montréal, NHL), Lennart Petrell (Edmonton, NHL), Jussi Jokinen (Carolina, NHL), Antti Pihlström (Ufa, KHL), Petri Kontiola (Chelyabinsk, KHL), Jarkko Immonen, Niko Kapanen (both Kazan, KHL), Ville Peltonen, Mikael Granlund, Janne Pesonen (all IFK Helsinki), Jesse Joensuu (HV´71 Jönköping, Sweden), Mika Pyörälä (Frölunda, Sweden), Tuomas Kiiskinen, Matti Kuparinen (both Kuopio), Veli-Matti Savinainen (Pori).

Coaches: Jukka Jalonen, Petri Matikainen and Pasi Nurminen



Jhonas Enroth
(Buffalo, NHL), Viktor Fasth (AIK Stockholm), Christopher Nihlstorp (Färjestad).


Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay, NHL), Staffan Kronwall (Cherepovets, KHL), Daniel Fernholm (IFK Helsinki, Finland), Jonas Frögren, Jonas Brodin (both Färjestad), Mattias Ekholm (Brynäs Gävle), Jonas Ahnelöv (MODO), Mattias Karlsson (HV´71 Jönköping).


Linus Ömark (Edmonton, NHL), Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado, NHL), Jonas Andersson, Patrik Zackrisson (both Atlant Mytischi, KHL), Niklas Persson (CSKA Moscow, KHL), Joel Lundqvist, Fredrik Pettersson (both Frölunda), Johan Harju, Niklas Olausson (both Lulea), Jesper Fasth (HV ´71 Jönköping), Johan Larsson, Calle Järnkrok (both Brynäs Gävle), Patrik Lundh (Färjestad), Daniel Bang (AIK Stockholm).

Coaches: Per Marts, Peter Popovič and Roger Rönnberg



Semyon Varlamov (Colorado, NHL), Konstantin Barulin (Atlant Mytischi), Mikhail Biryukov (Khanty-Mansiysk).


Alexei Yemelin
(Montréal, NHL), Nikita Nikitin (Columbus, NHL), Ilya Nikulin, Konstantin Korneyev, Yevgeni Medvedev (all Kazan), Dmitri Kalinin, Denis Denisov (both St. Petersburg), Yevgeni Ryasenski (CSKA Moscow), Ivan Vishnevski (Atlant Mytischi), Yevgeni Biryukov (Magnitogorsk).


Nikolai Kulyomin
(Toronto, NHL), Alexander Burmistrov (Winnipeg, NHL), Danis Zaripov, Alexei Tereschenko, Yevgeni Bodrov (all Kazan), Viktor Tikhonov, Vladimir Tarasenko (both St. Petersburg), Sergei Shirokov (CSKA Moscow), Yevgeni Kuznetsov, Anton Burdasov (both Chelyabinsk), Alexander Svitov (Ufa), Yevgeni Ketov, Vadim Shipachyov (both Cherepovets), Nikolai Zherdev (Atlant Mytischi).

Coaches: Zinatulya Bilyaletdinov, Valeri Belov and Dmitri Yushkevich

Schedule of the 2012 Kajot Hockey Games

Thursday, April 26:

18:00 Russia – Finland (St. Petersburg)
18:30 Czech Republic – Sweden (Brno, ČT4 Sport)

Saturday, April 28:

14:00 Czech Republic – Finland (Brno, ČT4 Sport)
18:30 Russia – Sweden (Brno)

Sunday, April 29:

14:00 Finland – Sweden (Brno, ČT4 Sport)
18:00 Czech Republic – Russia (Brno, ČT4 Sport)

2011-12 Euro Hockey Tour Standings, after three of four events:
 # | Team            |  W | OW | OL |  L | GF:GA | Pts |
 1 | Sweden          |  5 |  0 |  1 |  3 | 24:23 |  16 |
 2 | Russia          |  4 |  1 |  1 |  3 | 19:19 |  15 |
 3 | Czech Republic  |  3 |  2 |  0 |  4 | 22:22 |  13 |
 4 | Finland         |  3 |  0 |  1 |  5 | 21:22 |  10 |


  1. Am I the only one extremely concerned about Jakub Stepanek being our number 1 goalie?

  2. Well, he has been #2 several times. Hasn't he earned at least a chance to show he could be #1?

  3. He has also been number 1 several times... 2 years in a row actually (Quebec and the year before)... Hadamczak loves him for some reason. His backups would be guys like Pinc and Svoboda so we didn't even have a viable backup. Anyways, with stacked teams he'd always lose in the quarters on some kind of bad bounce. Notice he scored on himself in the KHL playoffs last year to lose a game as well (ala Marc Andre Fleury at the WJHC's). He terrifies me in net as he seems to always be on stacked teams and comes up short.