Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Czech hockey online in English

For the past six weeks, hockey-starved NHL fans have had to depend largely on hockey from Europe to get their fix. While a few games have been on in the United States and the United Kingdom on various ESPN platforms, most have had to search for internet streams with foreign-language broadcasts. These fans should be glad to know that live text commentary will now be available for many games in the Czech Extraliga and KHL.

Left to right: Marek Židlický, Tomáš Kaberle and Tomáš Plekanec
lead Kladno against Brno Tuesday. Josef Poláček, hc-kladno.cz.
All Czech hockey fans are familiar with the site onlajny.cz, which provides online text coverage of every Czech Extraliga game, as well as in lower men's leagues and top junior leagues. In the past couple of years they have also periodically provided English commentary to international events in the Czech Republic, such last last season's U18 World Championship in Brno, Znojmo and Břeclav.

In the past year and a half, I have covered several international events for the site's English version, called eurolivescores.com. Highlights include the 2011 IIHF Inline championship game in Pardubice and the 2012 U18 Women's championship game in Zlín. Typing events from a hockey game as they happen in rapid succession in a coherent manner takes some getting used to, and at first was a bit stressful, but I've gotten used to it.

Tonight, I will cover a professional hockey game in this manner for the first time: Rytíři Kladno vs Kometa Brno. For the third time this season, Kladno will play a home game at O2 Arena in Prague, the largest venue for hockey in the country. Both previous games drew over 15,000 fans and even more are expected this time. The increased interest in watching Kladno play is, of course, due to the NHL lockout and the subsequent arrival of club owner Jaromír Jágr and several other superstars to the team.

In what will surely be a disappointment to all those who have bought tickets, Jágr will not be in the Kladno lineup tonight, sitting out his second straight game with a yet-to-be-specified lower-body injury (though he says it's not the groin, which has given him trouble in the past). However, familiar names such as Marek Židlický, Tomáš Kaberle, Jan Hlaváč and Tomáš Plekanec will be. For Kometa, non-Czechs might know the names Miloslav Hořava and Róbert Petrovický, who both played in the NHL. The game is important for the league standings, as Brno is in 2nd place with 27 points, one ahead of Kladno.

Zdeno Chára and Alexander Radulov face
each other in KHL action on Thursday.
Photo: Jan Rachota, levpraha.cz.
Tuesday's game is actually the second that Eurolivecores has done in the Extraliga; on Sunday, Bill Meltzer of hockeybuzz.com provided commentary for Liberec-Kladno.

Coming up on Thursday, I return to O2 Arena to begin KHL online coverage as Lev Praha hosts CSKA Moscow, a matchup that will feature Zdeno Chára against Pavel Datsyuk. It will be a rematch of last Thursday's meeting in Moscow, where Datsyuk's CSKA club triumped 3-0. As some readers might know, I write for Lev's English website, so I'll try my best not to be a homer. In addition to all Lev home games that I'll be on location for, myself and a team of other commentators will provide commentary of other select KHL games, either from the arena or remotely.

Tuesday's Kladno-Brno matchup begins at 18:15 CET, 12:15 ET. Thursday's Lev-CSKA battle begins at 19:00 CET, 1pm ET.

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