Czech Republic at World Hockey Challenge

By Robert Neuhauser
By the time when all the hockey world watched NHL players of the near future competing at the
WJC in Russia, the NHL players of a more distant future played their tournament in Truro and New
Glasgow. The top Under-17 teams had their meeting there and have spent there a week full of high-
quality hockey, the best that 16 year old kids can play.

The Czech Republic presented a strong squad, who is hoping to make a medal at the Under-18 teams
WJC in 2002, loaded with 2002 and 2003 NHL draft prospects. Jiri Hudler, a potential top 5 pick
in the 2002 draft, missed this tournament because he attended the Under-20 team selection camp,
from where he was scratched. He spent the following days with practicing with his HC Slovnaft Vsetin
team, before being moved to the HC Havirov Panthers in mid-January. But other 2002 top prospects
made the trip to Canada. Hudler’s teammate Robin Kovar, a sized winger with great scoring touch,
Petr Kanko of HC Sparta Praha, a speedy winger with some games already played in the Elite
league or Marian Havel, brother of WJC champion Lukas Havel and current captain of SK Jihlava
junior team. The defense boasted the likes of Ondrej Nemec or Martin Vagner, aggresive mobile
defensemen, both serious 2002 prospects. When we look even more into the future, we see the
2003 NHL draft coming. And it’s most likely that the names of defensemen Jiri Drtina and
Lukas Pulpan will be called along with forward Kamil Kreps of Litvinov. Pulpan and Drtina are
1985 born prospects and Kreps was born in late 1984, so 2003 eligible. The Czechs were off
another 2003 top prospect, forward Milan Michalek of HC Ceske Budejovice, who suffered a
broken hand in the final game of the Czech Zepter Hockey Cup in late November.

The Czechs had an exhibition game on the schedule before the tournament and they met Team
Quebec in that game. The guys tried to get used to the smaller rink and aggresive play, both
goalies Jan Chabera and Lukas Musil shared the ice time, but the game turned out to be a
5-2 loss. The Team Quebec had the win secured with a 4-1 lead after the second period, the
only Czech goal came by Marian Havel, who was set up by Martin Vagner. In the third period the
Quebec guys increased the lead to 5-1 before Jonas Fidler has set the score to final 5-2.
Forward Guillaume Lajeunesse of the Team Quebec was the best player for Team Quebec in that
game and Marian Havel was best for the Czechs.

The WHC tournament started for the Czechs with the game against Team Atlantic. Kamil Kreps
scored a powerplay goal at 12:36, with Steve Yetman in the penalty box to give the Czechs
a 1-0 lead. In the first half of the period was a difficult time for the Czechs a 5 on 3
powerplay of the Team Atlantic, with Petr Kanko and Ondrej Nemec in the penalty box, but
Lukas Musil turned aside all shots. Jakub Koreis scored the second goal with just eleven
seconds played in the second period, again an unassisted marker. Cory Urquhart returned Team
Atlantic back into the game with his goal at 5:51, but after that the Czechs seemed to be in
control of the game and finished with a 5-2 win. A good start into the tournament and NHL
scouts surely noticed Petr Kanko’s performance, who scored two goals, one of them on the
powerplay and the second with just 14 seconds played in the third period. The starts of the
periods seemed to be critical for Brody McIntyre in the net for Team Atlantic, who turned aside
44 shots, almost twice as Lukas Musil with 28!

Top-talent stocked Team Ontario was the second opponent of the Czech team at the WHC. The names
of Patrick Jarrett, Rick Nash, Daniel Paille or Adam Henrich (brother of Edmonton Oilers’
prospect Mike Henrich) should be remebered concerning the NHL future. However, the Czechs had
a 2 goal lead coming into the second period when Petr Kanko scored a powerplay goal on the
first powerplay of the game and Jakub Evan scored the second one with just seconds left in
the period. At 1:45 of the second period Patrick Jarrett, the top pick of the 2000 OHL Priority
Selection, scored his goal assisted by Chris Campoli and Rick Nash. Martin Vagner gave the
Czechs again a two-goal cushion at 7:16, when he scored a powerplay goal assisted by Miroslav
Hlavaty. And after that came the lethal last two minutes of the game. Team Ontario started
a storm in front of Lukas Musil and Eric Staal and Patrick Jarrett created the goal for Tim
Brent – 2:3. The hell in the Czech zone continued and it payed immediate dividends as Rick
Nash tied the game with helpers from Patrick Jarrett and Bryan Rodneyt with just 16 seconds
left. After that no team could change the score and the game turned out to be a 3-3 tie.

On the 1st January the Czech team met Germany, not exactly the top team of the group. And the
game was no problem for the young Czechs. They had an opportunity of a 5 on 3 powerplay in
the first period, but Jakub Klepis scored the goal in the last second of the period. Alex
Sultzer tied the game at 1 after the half of the game, but Tomas Csabi and Jakub Klepis gave
the Czechs a two-goal lead. In the third period there was a hilight of Kamil Kreps and Marian
Havel. Havel set up Kreps for his goal after a breakaway and just after the next 20 seconds
Marian Havel scored a goal, assisted by – Kamil Kreps. And that was the result. A 5-1 win.
The last game of the round robin schedule was the game against Team Pacific. This was a very
hard opponent to face, with potential NHLers in Kootenay Ice players Andy Thompson and Adam
Taylor or John Boychuk, Jon Filewich and Alex Leavitt. It was Jarret Lukin who gave the Team
Pacific a two-goal lead after he scored the only goal of the first period and another one at
the beginning of the second. Team Pacific was better than the Czech squad in this game, they
were faster, skated better and looked in a better shape than the Czechs. Especially Alex Leavitt,
who scored the next goal and assisted on both following goals scored by Jonathan Filewich.
It was Petr Kanko who scored the only goal for the Czech Republic with helpers from Ondrej
Nemec and Tomas Linhart late in the second period. The Czechs were frustrated beacuse of the
loss and Jakub Langhammer tried to win a little fight against Adam Taylor at least, but that
was it. The Czechs were outshot 29-36 and outscored 1-5.

So after the round robin schedule the Czechs had to face an opponent from the other group
and it was Finland. The two teams met three times during this season and the young Czechs
won all three contests. This game looked promising, too, after Lukas Pulpan scored a powerplay
goal at 6:52. But another goal by Ville Mustonen tied the game and Joni Lappalainen gave the
Finns a one-goal lead. That lasted until the last seconds of the game. The Czech powerplay – and
a hell in front of Mikael Vuorio in the net for Finland. And it was Robin Kovar who was able to
bring the puck behind Vuorio’s back to tie the game at 2. However, it was useless, because the
Finns decided this game in overtime, despite being outshot 30-24. A 2-3 overtime loss.

For the first time of the season the Finns have beaten the Czechs and this time it meant a
fifth place in the tournament. Rather disappointing finish for this squad, who was supposed to
fight for the medals. The young Czechs didn’t perform bad, they played a solid hockey, only the
game against Team Pacific was a clear loss, but one overtime ruined the team’s performance. But
with all players healthy the situation could be different and the 1984 looks like a strong year.
The addition of Jiri Hudler and Milan Michalek could change the situation and there is no doubt
that this team will be a strong competitor at the Under-18 WJC in 2002.

Individual Player Statistics
                         Games  Goals  Assists  Points
Petr Kanko                 5      4       0        4
Jakub Klepis               5      2       1        3
Kamil Kreps                5      2       1        3
Jakub Koreis               5      1       2        3
Marian Havel               5      1       1        2
Tomas Csabi                5      1       1        2
Marek Chvatal              5      0       2        2
Tomas Linhart              5      0       2        2
Ondrej Nemec               5      0       2        2
Jan Velich                 5      0       2        2
Jakub Evan                 5      1       0        1
Daniel Kraft               5      1       0        1
Robin Kovar                5      1       0        1
Lukas Pulpan               5      1       0        1
Martin Vagner              5      1       0        1
Miroslav Hlavaty           5      0       1        1
Jakub Langhammer           5      0       1        1
Josef Vavra                5      0       1        1
Jiri Drtina                5      0       0        0
Jonas Fidler               5      0       0        0
Jan Herman                 5      0       0        0
Lukas Musil                3      0       0        0
Jan Chabera                2      0       0        0

Goaltender Statistics
                 Games  MIN    SVS   GAA
Lukas Musil       3     180    97    3.33
Jan Chabera       2     125    42    2.00