Tomas Duba- Tomas who?

By Ivana Paulova

Czech goaltender Tomas Duba is certainly well known by the scouts these days but it is not that long ago when most of you would have said “Tomas who?“ Due to his excellent performance in the 2001 Junior World Championship his name is fast becoming a house-hold word – well at least a hockey-household word. The Czech team had been expected to perform well and most of the people saw only one question mark and it was above the position of the goaltender at the Championship. There were many excellent goaltenders: Ahonen or DiPietro. In the Czech goal there was ‘only’ “ Tomas who?” But Tomas Duba showed his class right in the first match and crowned his performance by winning a trophy for the best goaltender of the championship as well as the gold medal for the Czech team.

He was born on 2nd July 1981 so he could have been drafted 2 years ago. It was a disappointment for him when none of the teams picked him in the 1999 draft. This year he sees the draft as a chance not as a major goal. He does not want to look forward to it because it may simply fuel another disappointment. But there is difference between Tomas Duba 2 years ago and Tomas Duba now. Today he has more experience and an extra 2 gold medals from the Junior World Championships. He has gained more confidence and he has learned how to cope with failures. There is no reason to rush so he still keeps all the options open. Now he is rated the number 1 European goaltender for the oncoming draft.

And the history of this star? When he first came to the stadium of HC Sparta Praha he was 5 years old and he came because one of his friends had started to play hockey there. He went through all the different positions but finally decided to go in goal. In those days there were many famous Czech goaltenders and he liked to watch them. Tomas’ parents did not believe that he would stick with hockey for long but fortunately they were wrong. In everything he did his parents supported him. His father started to watch hockey more and now he is an expert on the subject. Tomas passionately enjoys hockey but he feels a certain responsibility to finish his studies. He is in the final year of his high school and there are exams ahead of him. He knows life is not just hockey and one day all the knowledge from school may be useful. It is good for him to be so mature at his age. It probably all comes from the very supportive background. Also in school the teachers try to give Tomas a helping hand as much as they can. His time is now divided between school, training with the A team of HC Sparta Praha, playing for the junior team of HC Sparta Praha and partly playing for Beroun, a team playing in the Czech second highest league. Tomas’ advantage is that one of the best Czech goaltenders plays for Sparta: Petr Briza. When Tomas started in goal Briza was one of his idols and now he can learn from him as well as be given advice from him.

Tomas’ favourite players are Petr Briza and Dominik Hasek. He copied something from both but mainly he has his own unique style. He loves the position as well as he has the admiration. He is hard working and he always concentrates only on his performance. He needs to feel confident to be able to concentrate fully. It is important for him to have the support from his team mates and from the staff. The communication with defenders is essential for a goalie. Sometimes the goalie has to shout but this creates no problems for Tomas even though he appears to be a very quiet and modest guy. Tomas does not have to spend hours in the gym moreover he is working on his speed and is doing stretching exercises. In 5th grade he started with gymnastics and he still benefits from it. He posses excellent reflexes and his main virtues are his flexibility and his quickness. Tomas has the butterfly style but just like Dominik Hasek he sometimes goes down too soon. He works on maintaining the posture and does not give many chances to the opposing forwards when he cuts the angles well and his five-hole style is at a high level. In goal he seems confident and he does not loose temper when some controversial moment comes. He has poise. As he says “I can get angry, shout at team mates but most of the time I try to be calm and to help the team by my goaltending skills”. He does extremely well now but he stays down-to-earth and suggests that the success does not rest on one man but it is always the work of the whole team. The only areas on which Tomas needs to work more are the puck handling abilities and the initial pass.

His hobbies outside of hockey are cycling, soccer, tennis and motorcycling. He loves the feeling of danger and he is fascinated by the smell of oil and the sound of the engine. That is probably why he is a goaltender where he can feel the rise of the adrenaline in his body. He has most of his career ahead of him but already he has achieved quite a few great successes. During the 2000 championship he was second goaltender in the team so he was there mainly to gain experience. This year he was the one of the main figures of the achievement. Definitely it was not easy for Tomas, although this year he had the support of the staff and he knew he would be number 1 goaltender. But he had long-term problems with his ankle and with his sinus he even went to the hospital. It was not sure if the doctors would allow him to go to Russia for the championship but finally he was in excellent shape and performed as never before. This was an amazing performance from him but surely his team mates also did a great job. Sadly this is not the same with the junior team of Sparta Praha. They failed in the quarterfinals and the last game they played was probably Tomas’ last match for them.

Tomas’ contract in Sparta ends this season and everything is open now. He does not want to speculate whether he will go to CHL or stay here. It is far too soon to make any predictions but undoubtedly Tomas has the necessary tools and the determination to become a great goalie one day.

Seasonteam                     GPMINSSAGAAVGSV %
Zepter Cup 2000HC Sparta Praha1301300100
1. ÈP league 2000-2001HC Berounští Medvìdi 8426186182.5491.18
Juniors A 1999-2000J Sparta201110463512.7690.08
Juniors - Fin - 1999/2000J Sparta10560281222.3692.74
Juniors A 2000-2001J Sparta11594307323.2390.56
Juniors – play-off 00-01J Sparta5240103153.7587,28
National team-jun. 1999-2000Czech 194225-61,60-
National team-jun. 2000-2001Czech 205270- 81,77-
JWC Russia 2000-2001Czech 20 (1981)7420-81,1494,70