Juniors In Extraliga

By Daniel Kysel
New faces, more ice time, more regular players and several NHL
prospects. It is a leit-motive of this season. Due to the special model
of Slovak Elite league – Extraliga (no team will relegate) a lot of
young and gifted players could show their skills on senior level. We
could see about 30 juniors on Extraliga yet. Some of them play regularly
(10-13) and the other ones only from time to time.

HKM Zvolen has very strong roster and the juniors are in difficulties to
play on first team like in last season. Its juniors play only on the
farm (on Division 1) and junior teams. However young goalie Peter Sevela
(16-10-83, 5’11” 149 lb, G) has recorded unusual curiosity. He has
played just several periods on Zvolen team while joined his team-mate
and the oldest player of Extraliga Robert Pukalovic. Robert was born in
Oct. 28, 1960 and Peter is 23 years younger.

Slovan Bratislava sticks to its traditions and omits junior players.
Just two kids got the chance to play in several games but usually only a
few shifts – Radoslav Sloboda (07-11-82, 6’2″ 195 lb, D) and Oliver
Maron (30-09-83, 5’11” 160 lb, D).

SKP Poprad uses three juniors who play regularly. No doubt Tomas Surovy
(24-09-81, 6’1″ 191 lb, C) is the best Slovak junior playing in Europe.
Complete player, good hockey sense, very valuable in power plays as well
as in penalty killing games, solid skater, very strong on his skates,
good stickhandler, passer and scorer. He is pretty dangerous for
goalies. Lukas Hvila (30-11-81, 5’8″ 173 lb, RW/C), smallish winger is
pretty good skater and stickhanler as well. When he plays with good
passer he usually scores a lot of goals. By the way he was the best
scorer of national team U20 in pre-season games when scored 5 goals in 6
games. Tomas Jurco (04-12-81, 6’0″ 189 lb, D) was unknown player for me
before this season. Due to wide injury list of his team he found a
regular spot in the lineup and showed solid performances.

HK36 Skalica changed head coach and he trusts to young players. Michal
Ruzicka (01-11-81, 6’0″ 163 lb, C/RW) is clever playmaker, excellent
skater and stickhandler, able to score. He plays a center of third line
or winger of first one. But his weight is the handicap (typical for
Skalica’s young and skilled forwards). He would need to add 10-15 pounds
of muscles to be more comfortable to physical play. Lukas Komarek
(29-04-82, 6’0″ 178 lb, D) is young defenseman with experiences from
national teams under 17 and 18. He fights for regular spot in defense.
The youngest player of the league is Richard Stehlik (22-06-84, D). He
is only 16 and it looks like he could find a regular spot in Skalica’s
defense. It is really unusual to see 16-year old defenseman to play on
senior level. Maybe he is serious prospect for 2002 NHL draft. Other
juniors – Martin Gucek (G, 1981), Peter Kocak (F, 82), Jaroslav Prosvic
(F, 82), Martin Grill (F, 81).

Dukla Trencin is the best producer of players for NHL. Unlike past years
the junior defensemen dominate over forwards on the roster. Tomas
Starosta (20-05-81, 6’1″ 193 lb, RD) is one of two best junior D-men on
Extraliga. Good size, solid skater, he plays his position well. He is
a key player of national team U20. Tomas is very valuable player
although underrated. Martin Zajac (21-09-81, 6’2″ 229 lb, D) was ranked
by CSB in past season. He has pretty good size, is muscled type of
defenseman without any bigger weakness but he would need to see more ice
time. Ladislav Gabris (18-03-81, 5’10” 178 lb, LD) has surprised in
pre-season camp. He is not robust but clever D-man. He fights with Zajac
for No.6 defenseman. Radovan Sakalas (14-05-81, 6’1″ 184 lb, D) is other
gifted D-man but plays the least of above players. Trencin’s team has
four solid junior D-men and unfortunately only two of them can play in
whole games. Lukas Bokros (09-09-82, 6’0″ 167 lb, R/LW) is talented
forward who played on all national junior teams (under 16, 17 ,18). He
needs to see more ice time to adapt for senior league and more physical

A management of HC Kosice decided to re-build the team. Young players
dominate and only three ones are older than 22. Stafan Fabian (10-02-81,
5’9″ 178 lb, RD) with Starosta are the best junior D-men. He is very
clever player, able to pass, shoot or hit. He is valuable in power plays
as well as in penalty killing. His size means a big handicap for the NHL. Alexander Valentin
(23-04-81, 5’11” 195 lb, LD) was ranked by CSB in 1999. He is other
solid defenseman but he lacks Fabian’s sense and is a little bit in his
shade. Tomas Slovak (05-04-83, 6’1″ 191 lb, RD) – remember his name. He
is a great 2001 NHL draft prospect. Though he is
17 years old he earned the regular spot in the line-up. Good size, likes
physical game, strong on his skates and solid shot. Martin Drotar
(05-11-81, 5’11” 171 lb, LW) is quick and aggressive winger, solid
performances in rookie season. Peter Gajdos (13-02-82, 6’4″ 205 lb, C/W)
has an impressive size but he needs to improve his skills to be regular
player on Extraliga. Other juniors – Marek Hornak (W, 83) and Michal
Dzavoronok (W, 82).

HC Martin – Lubomir Pisar (04-02-81, 6’2″ 195 lb, G) is gifted goalie
with good size. He played several periods as well as one complete game.
Lubo plays as No. 2 goalie on his team. He will get more
chances to show his skills on senior team during regular season. He must
be patient and maybe he can follow Matus Kostur from last season. Michal
Macho (17-01-82, 6’1″ 167 lb, C/W) was picked by San Jose in 6th round.
He had slower start of the season but now he proves the Sharks have
selected pretty gifted kid. Usually he skates in first or second lines.
HK32 Liptovsky Mikulas – Pavol Hruby (24-05-81, 6’2″ 191 lb, C/W) played
only several shifts in a few games.

A quick view to Division 1 league. The two most exciting players of this
league are Sopko and Kristin. Ramon Sopko (06-04-81, 5’9″ 160 lb, G) is
one of the best goalies on Division 1 and definitely the most gifted. He
will compete with Pisar and Hamerlik for No. 1 goalie on national team
U20. Miroslav Kristin (22-01-82, LW) belongs to top scorers of Division
1 when scored 7 goals in 10 games. He is natural born scorer.

“Short Slovak course” or “Translate above names”:
Sloboda = Freedom
Surovy = Rough
Hvila = Moment
Starosta = Mayor
Zajac = Hare
Ruzicka = Little rose
Komarek = Little mosquito
Stehlik = Goldfinch
Drotar = Tinker
Gajdos = Piper
Pisar = Scribe
Hruby = Rude