Saturday, August 18, 2012

August hockey heats up

Although I'm away from the Czech Republic for the month of August, the world of hockey continues on. Perhaps the most significant thing I've missed in my absence is the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. In 2011, I attended every game played in Břeclav, covering it for Czech Hockey Report as well as

In 2012, Eurohockey was on hand again, with Jon Rowson, Henrik Lundqvist (not the goalie) and Romon Solovyev doing a good job of providing coverage. For those who missed it, Canada won the tournament for the fifth straight year, defeating Finland 4-0 in the final. The Czech Republic, who feared a lack of offense heading in, made it to the semifinal where they fell 2-1 to Sweden on a late goal.

However, the Ivan Hlinka was not the only hockey event going on in Moravia this weekend. The Women's Summer Camp finished up in Brumov-Bylnice, with Tyler Bilton providing coverage. Slavia Praha was the Czech representative at the seven-team event, finishing second by taking 13 of a possible 18 points. Slavia's only regulation loss was to Russian club HC Tornado, who blew away everybody they faced, outscoring their opponents 32-1 over the course of the tournament.

Kverka takes the opening faceoff vs Norway.
While two international tournaments finished on Saturday, another began. For the second straight year, HC Karlovy Vary is representing the Czech Republic at the World Junior Club Cup in Omsk, Russia. They finished second place last year and are off to a good start in 2012, beating the Norway U20 national team 3-1 in the opening game. KV got two first period goals from Tomáš Harkabus and another in the first minute of the second from captain Jaromír Kverka, while Vladislav Habal stopped 19 of 20 Norwegian shots.

"Today it was a very important game that we did not want to lose, we wanted to gain confidence, which we finally did," Kverka told the MHL website. "Norway played aggressive hockey and at the beginning we had problems, but then we started playing smarter and we won."

Things should only get more difficult from this point. After playing the United States Hockey League's Waterloo Black Hawks on Sunday (16:00 MSK, 14:00 CET, 7am CT), they play two MHL teams: the host Omsk Hawks (Tuesday) and Dinamo-Shinnik Bobrusk (Wednesday). Karlovy Vary will be a member of this league too in the upcoming season.

Tournament semifinals will be played Saturday and the final on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Czech U17 & U18 teams face challenges at home in August tourneys

For those looking to pursue a career in hockey, there is no off-season, and by August things are already in full swing. This month, two age categories are staging international tournaments in the Czech Republic, U17 and U18. Starting August 7, the U17s are hosting a five-team tournament in North Bohemia. The following week, the U18s take centre stage in southeast Moravia. The Czech Republic has faced many challenges trying to rebuild a national youth program over the past few years and the coaches of both age groups, Jiří Veber and Luděk Bukač Jr, look ahead to the challenges they face this coming season.

U18 Coach Luděk Bukač Jr looks ahead to the challenges at the Ivan
Hlinka tournament and beyond. Photo: Tomáš Čekal.
The larger of the two events is the U18 tournament, the annual Ivan Hlinka Memorial, will, as usual, be co-hosted by Břeclav along with nearby Piešťany, Slovakia. Despite underperforming regularly at this tournament, as well as at last year's U18 World Championship in Brno, Znojmo and Břeclav, Bukač brings with him a large part of his U17 team that finished second place in Hradec Králové last February, although there are a few notable exceptions. Three players, Jakub Vrána, David Pastrňák and Martin Kohout, are missing due to injuries. Six other players, Patrik Zdráhal, Adam Zbořil, Dominik Kubalík, David Němeček, David Sysala and Jan Košťálek, are all going overseas to join CHL teams and declined invitations to play for the team.

The lack of dedication to the national team clearly frustrates Bukač. Comparing his situation to the Swedish team, he said, "Their coaches invited their players and all of them accepted. No one was missing. As coaches, our goal is to set up a strategy for our national program, starting at the U16 level, and have the rules respected. We want our players to respect the program.

"The Hlinka Memorial Tournament is difficult, but I believe that we have a very good team," he continued. "As far as conditioning goes, we are ready. It is true that we're missing some forwards who scored a lot of goals for us in the past, but we have to compensate in other areas."

Last year's Czech team at the Hlinka tournament was Jiří Veber, now heads up the U17 team, which will host the USA, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland in four towns in North Bohemia, with Chomutov serving as the main venue. Veber takes over a squad that was headed last season by Robert Reichel and started well, but had trouble in its last few tournaments.

"I don't know what the reason was; if it was injuries, goaltending, but I'm not looking back. I'm thinking about right now," he said. "We are starting from scratch. We looked at the players in camp, and now we're concentrating on this tournament. We are consistent, and we require certain things. We firmly believe that it will work. Although, it depends on how we respond in the games, of course."

Czech roster and schedule for the U17 tournament:

Karel Vejmelka (Třebíč), David Pírs (Sparta Praha), Aleš Sova (Č. Budějovice).

Filip Pyrochta (Liberec), Jakub Zbořil (Kometa Brno), Tomáš Havlín (Liberec), Lukáš Vopelka (Örebrö, Sweden), Dominik Mašín (Slavia Praha), Filip Moravec (Litvínov), Robert Horák (Olomouc), Jan Ščotka (Vsetín).

Pavel Jenyš (Kometa Brno), Samuel Ollender, Dominik Kafka (both Vítkovice), Josef Stříbrný (Litvínov), Pavel Zacha (both Liberec), Martin Beneš, Václav Krliš (both Plzeň), Tomáš Andres (Slavia Praha), Michal Kovařčík (Třinec), Petr Macháček, Martin Strunz (both Chomutov), Radek Pilař (Hradec Králové).

Team Manager: Milan Hnilička
Head Coach: Jiří Veber
Assistant Coach: Petr Svoboda
Goaltending Coach: Michal Podolka
Team Doctor: Dr. Tomáš Madrý
Treasurer: Maroš Solenský

Tuesday, August 7:
18:00 Slovakia - Switzerland (Chomutov)
18:00 Czech Republic - Germany (Kadaň)

Wednesday, August 8:
18:00 USA - Germany (Chomutov)
18:00 Czech Republic - Slovakia (Klášterec n. O.)

Thursday, August 9:
18:00 Switzerland - USA (Chomutov)
18:00 Germany - Slovakia (Kadaň)

Friday, August 10:
16:30 Germany - Switzerland (Klášterec n. O.)
18:00 Czech Republic - USA (Chomutov)

Saturday, August 11:
12:00 Slovakia - USA (Chomutov)
15:30 Czech Republic - Switzerland (Chomutov)

Czech roster and schedule for the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament:

Štěpán Lukeš (Chomutov), René Svoboda (Vítkovice).

Defencemen:Tomáš Andrlík (Plzeň), Martin Kokeš (Litvínov), Roman Čermák (Jihlava), Ondřej Šafář (K. Vary), Jan Štencl (Vítkovice), Tomáš Dvořák (H. Brod), Michal Beránek (Liberec), Alex Pisárik (Třinec).

Forwards:Jiří Kepka, Roman Přikryl, Miroslav Indrák (all Plzeň), Dominik Pokorný (Sparta Praha), Petr Česlík (Vítkovice), Václav Pašek, Luboš Rob (both Č. Budějovice), Ondřej Kaše, David Kampf (both Chomutov), Martin Slánský (Kladno), Ondřej Kovářů (Lukko Rauma, Finland), Jan Mandát (Jihlava), Dan Nádrazský (Davos, Switzerland).

Jakub Kalfiřt (Liberec), Adam Škutchan (Vítkovice), Jan Litera (Letňany).

Team Manager: Otakar Černý
Head Coach: Luděk Bukač Jr.
Assistant Coach: David Bruk
Goaltending Coach: Radek Toth
Team Doctor: Dr. Milan Novotný
Treasurer: Zdeněk Vojtěchovský

Group in Břeclav: Czech Republic, USA, Russia, Finland
Group in Piešťany: Slovakia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland

Monday, August 13:
14:00 Switzerland - Canada (Piešťany)
15:30 USA - Russia (Břeclav)
17:30 Slovakia - Sweden (Piešťany)
19:00 Czech Republic - Finland  (Břeclav)

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

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

Friday August 17:
14:00 Placement game (Piešťany)
15:30 Placement game (Břeclav)
17:30 Semifinal (Piešťany)
19:00 Semifinal (Břeclav)

Saturday, August 18:14:00 Final or 3rd place game (Piešťany)
17:00 Final or 3rd place game (Břeclav)

Quotations, rosters and schedules courtesy of