Pardubice win Czech Junior Extraleague

By Robert Neuhauser
The Czech junior Extraleague finally came to the championship battle. Every team, who wants
to compete for the title, muss pass a long way. First there is the regular season, which
consists of 38 games. The teams are divided into two groups, Group A for the teams from the
western cities of the Czech Republic and Group B for the eastern cities’ teams.
Each Group consists of 10 teams. During the regular season the teams meet only opponents from
their own group. Then comes the Final group. To this group advance the top 6 teams from every
Group. In the Final group the teams from group A play only the teams from Group B and every
team meets his opponent twice – home and away. Also the Final group is divided into two parts.
After that the top four teams from every Final group create four quarterfinal pairs and then
it is a regular playoff, the games are best of three.
This year the juniors of HC Pojistovna Pardubice fought their way into the finals, where they
had to face the juniors from HC Slovnaft Vsetin. The Pardubice team seemed to be the favorite
as they were ruling the Extraleague for the whole season. They have an excellent goalie in
Martin Barek, who was the starter for all junior teams of the 1982 born players, the defense
mixes experienced players like overager Petr Mocek or Pavel Dvorak along with young prospects
like Martin Vagner or Tomas Linhart, both 1984 born. Up in the front Pardubice boast an
excellent scoring line of Josef Vitek, captain Albin Podstavek and Jan Kolar, a player with
some experience with the senior Extraleague. Besides the offense got a large boost with the
arrival of overager Tomas Rolinek, who joined the team after the playoff loss of the senior
team of Pardubice.

Vsetin has also some quality players, goalie Lukas Plsek in the net, 2000 Under-18 WJC members
Michal Blazek and Tomas Frolo (Frolo played for Slovakia), overager Zbynek Spitzer and top 1984
prospect Ondrej Nemec. The forwards had less senior Extraleague playing experience than those
of Pardubice, only Josef Lang, Petr Zajgla, Petr Vampola and 1984 born top prospect Robin Kovar
played for the senior team. But it looked like an interesting series.

But the first game was decided, very, very soon. It turned out to be a total sweep of the
Vsetin juniors. Pardubice players really took advantage of the home ice and thrashed the guys
from Vsetin in a spectacular way. Pardubice were confident after beating Vsetin twice in the
Final group and soon had a 3:0 lead. They took over the control of the game very soon, skated
better and created way better plays than Vsetin, who played poor. It was 7:0 after the second
period and the home crowd wanted it to be 10:0. And that’s what really happened. Ondrej Latal’s
hattrick helped Pardubice to a shocking 10:0 win. Latal was drafted by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan
of the QMJHL in the 1999 CHL Import draft.
Pardubice bulit up their confidence even more, they defeated Trinec and then Ceske Budejovice
juniors, led by Vaclav Nedorost and other top propspects like Jiri Novotny or Milan Michalek,
on their way to finals, and now they knew that they have beaten Vsetin 10:0.

In Vsetin it wasn’t the same game. Vsetin kept up with Pardubice and finally won 4:3. So the
third game should decide about the champion.
Pardubice took soon the lead after Josef Vitek grabbed the loose puck in front of the net of
Vsetin and his backhander finished behind the back of Lukas Plsek. But Vsetin didn’t want to
give up and tied the game 5 minutes later. Petr Vampola shuffled the puck behind the net and
finally brought it behind Martin Barek. Pardubice were in lead immediately after the beginning
of the second period as Ondrej Latal fired a slap shot from the left side, which surprised Plsek.
But Vsetin was back in the game after two minutes, Zbynek Spitzer fired a shot from the blue
line, the shot hit the goalpost and Petr Zajgla chipped it in. Vsetin had always to tie the
game. Soon after the halfway mark Petr Prucha gave the lead again to the Pardubice team when
he fired a shot through the screen. Tomas Rolinek increased the lead in the third period
when he scored after a breakaway. After some time Lukas Plsek did a bad mistake and passed
the puck from the corner right on the stick of Josef Vitek who set the score on 5:2. Zbynek
Spitzer has cut the margin, but Vsetin wasn’t able to tie the game. They pulled the goaltender,
but Tomas Rolinek grabbed the puck, used the boards to deke the defenseman and scored an
empty netter. 6:3, Pardubice could sing We are the champions and captain Albin Podstavek raised
the trophy for the winning team. They really deserve it, all three lines played well during the
whole season and Pardubice players were always able to maintain a smart tactical game. They
dethroned HC Slavia Praha after 4 years of ruling the junior league and they are the deserving
champions, really!

Top playoff scorers Pardubice
Games Goals  Assists   Points
1. Petr Prucha     7   6        5         11
2. Tomas Rolinek   4   5        6         11
3. Albin Podstavek 7   4        7         11
4. Josef Vitek     7   6        3         9
5. Petr Koukal     7   5        4         9
6. Ondrej Latal    7   7        0         7
7. Jan Kolar       7   2        4         6
8. Petr Mocek      7   1        2         3
9. Jan Archalous   7   1        2         3


Top playoff scorers Vsetin
Games Goals  Assists   Points
1. Marek Dubec    8    7        2         9
2. Petr Zajgla    9    6        3         9
3. Petr Vampola   8    5        4         9
4. Jaroslav Betka 9    3        6         9
5. Josef Lang     9    2        5         7
6. Robin Kovar    9    1        5         6
7. Michal Blazek  7    0        6         6
8. Ondrej Nemec   9    1        4         5
9. Zbynek Spitzer 9    2        2         4