Under-18 WJC: Czech Republic Team Preview

By Robert Neuhauser

The eyes of almost all NHL scouts now focus on the Finnish cities Lahti, Heinola and the
capital Helsinky. The Under-18 WJC, a hilight for the players preparing for the NHL Entry
Draft, takes place in Finland between April, 12th, 2001 and April, 22nd, 2001. The Czech team,
however he is very succesfull at the Under-20 WJC, is still overcoming a six year drought
for a medal. Only twice since the break of Czechoslovakia in 1993 the Czechs were able to
bring home a medal. This was in 1993 and 1994 when they finished with a back-to-back bronze medal.

That year, 1994, the Czech boasted the likes of current NHLers like Tomas Vokoun in goal, Petr
Buzek and Pavel Trnka on defense and Patrik Elias, Petr Sykora, Vaclav Varada, Radek Dvorak,
Jan Hlavac, Josef Marha and Jan Hrdina on forward. Last year the Under-18 WJC was a sixth place disaster
and only three of the 13 players eligible were selected in the draft. Coming back from the
previous year’s team are Jiri Novotny and Petr Puncochar.

This year it’s a whole new squad, which has a big change.

For the first time in history the
head coach Jiri Kalous was permitted to select also players playing in the CHL this season.

That is mainly to the big success of the CHL players with the Under-20 team, where they
contributed heavily to the golden success. In this historic moment Jiri Kalous selected three
players, Lukas Krajicek of the Peterborough Petes and Jan Platil of the Barrie Colts on defense
and Frantisek Bakrlik, also from the Colts, on forward. They should boost the team’s overall
strength and aggresivness and bring in some North American style. It’s a pity that one of the
top 1983 born players, Ales Hemsky of the QMJHL’s Hull Olympiques, isn’t with the team. Even
if he isn’t very sized, he has a great offensive potential and could create some pretty good
offense. He missed the Top Prospects Game due to injury but amassed 100 points during the regular season
for the Olympiques, who were defeated in the first round of the playoffs by the Rouyn-Noranda
Huskies.

But the Czech team has to overcome also a big loss. Huge talent Jiri Hudler, a potential 2002
top 10 pick, got his neck injured in an Extraleague game, had to spent some time in hospital
and on the invalid chair, is now healthy but still unable to play games. Jiri always played
well against older opposition and he was also a member of the last year’s team, when he played
against players three years older than him. This season he split between the Under-18 and Under-20
teams and he felt very comfortable with the Under-18 as he was able to decide games with his play.
Now must other players fill that hole.

The Czech team played two exhibition games before the Under-18 WJC, with a 1-1-0 record. In the
first game the young Czech defeated Switzerland 3-0 by goals of Lukas Chmelir, Ondrej Danicek
and Zbynek Novak, in the second game they were thrashed by the Slovakian squad, 1-5. The only
goal was scored by Tomas Plihal. In those two exhibition games the coaches tried how the
lines could look like and practiced some special units, offensive game and the play in front
of the net. Let’s have a look who will travel to Finland!


Goaltenders


Martin Laska

Team: HC Liberec
Born: January 23rd, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 165 lbs.

Martin made a great reputation for himself at the last Four-nations tourney, where he carried
the Czechs. Martin is a mature goaltender with good poise and reflexes, also has some experience
with the Div I league this season. He should be the starter.

Miroslav Kopriva
Team: HC Vagnerplast Kladno
Born: December 5th, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 165 lbs.

Almost the same size as Martin Laska, Miroslav played the backup goalie for the most of the
season for the juniors of Kladno. A quick goalie who plays the angles well, but still very raw,
needs more maturity.


Defensemen

Jan Holub
Team: HC Liberec
Born: May 3rd, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 184 lbs.

Jan is a not very well known player, but a steady rearguard with solid stay-at-home style. He
won’t be an offensive threat ever, but is good at the boards and in front of the net. His
skating could be improved as he has good size.

Lukas Chmelir
Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary
Born: April 15th, 1983
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 185 lbs.

One of the players who will celebrate their birthday at the WJC, Lukas already played some
games in the Extraleague. Size is his drawback, but Lukas is a good skater with solid positional
play, who isn’t afraid to join the rush.

Petr Puncochar
Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary
Born: June 6th, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 202 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 54th Euro

One of the best defensemen on the team. Lukas played the last games of the regular season for
the senior team of Karlovy Vary, also scored a goal. Played at the 2000 Under-18 WJC, Petr
is a mobile hard-hitting rearguard with offensive potential. If he was 6’2”, he would be
dominating the ice with his in-your-face style of game.

Martin Soucek
Team: HC Trebic
Born: May 8th, 1983
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 176 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 62nd Euro

Martin played well for the Div I team Trebic this season. He showed flashes of an offensive
defenseman, but he likes to make the defensive duties first. He is a role player, one of them,
which work you can’t notice during the game, but without them the team would fail.

Martin Toms
Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary
Born: December 21st, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 180 lbs.

Martin, when paired with a defensive defenseman, could provide some offense, but is not a two-way
defenseman. He is a good skater and a player who does a lot of small details well. Could be
more aggresive and he doesn’t always play at top intensity.

David Turon
Team: HC Havirov Panthers
Born: October 4th, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 185 lbs.

David is a defenseman who would do it well in North America. Already with a little Extraleague
experience he is a tough hard hitting stay-at-home defenseman. Excells along the boards and
on the penalty kill, David is there whenever you need a tough defenseman to be paired with
an offensive one.

Lukas Krajicek
Team: Peterborough Petes, OHL
Born: March 11th, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 183 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 16th North America

Lukas adjusted to the OHL well after playing in the NAHL in the 1999-2000 season. Also played
at the Top Prospects game in Calgary, he posted solid numbers in the 60 foot dash and the
Hardest shot event. Lukas is a mobile skater, also a good hitter and has an above average
shot and good passing skills.

Jan Platil
Team: Barrie Colts, OHL
Born: February 9th, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 1985 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 140th North America

Jan played nine games in the Extraleague for Kladno in the 1999-2000 season before coming
over to Barrie. He adjusted quite well and showed a rough aggresive game, one he was used to
back home in the Czech Republic. Also posesses a good shot and can create chances on PP. Will
be one of the toughest Czech cookies.


Forwards

Frantisek Bakrlik
Team: Barrie Colts, OHL
Born: June 2nd, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight 190 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 99th North America

Former Litvinov midgets forward Frantisek played juniors already in the OHL. He posted
solid numbers and was also able to add some defense. Another Top Prospects game member, Frankie
had his best event the Hardest shot. His 92.4 mph shot was an above average one. Frantisek
can also add some toughness and scoring touch to the team.

Petr Domin
Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary
Born: January 2nd, 1983
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 200 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 42nd Euro

Petr is another player with Extraleague experience, already with a two years one. He is a huge
center with a booming shot and good play in the corners. He could be one of the leaders of
the team, Petr is also solid in his own end. Likes to have the puck, only his skating could
be improved.

Jan Rehor
Team: HC Ceske Budejovice
Born: April 30th, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 180 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 64th Euro

Jan played on the first line of the Ceske Budejovice juniors for most of the season as a right
wing. Jan is a good skater with excellent vision and smarts, also a good stickhandler. He is
sometimes a defensive liability, but he is very good with the puck in the offensive zone. Jan
scored a goal in his only game in the Extraleague, after an assist of this team’s captain Jiri
Novotny.

Lukas Dobry
Team: HC Continental Zlin
Born: April 15th, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 170 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 50th Euro

A rather skinny forward, but very good instincts for the game and Lukas can play an overall
game. He is a playmaking forward with good passing skills, sometimes he likes to carry the
puck too much. But he can play in front of the opposing net quite well and he handles well
with his stick.

Marian Havel
Team: HC Dukla Jihlava
Bron: January 26th, 1984
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 180 lbs.

Marian, even he is 2002 eligible, already played a tournament with the Under-20 team. He played
half of the season as the captain of Jihlava juniors before being promoted to the Div I team.
A very good skater with great vision and hockey sense, excells at making plays and also can
bring the puck to the net very often, isn’t afraid of the rough stuff. Brother of 2000 WJC
champion Lukas Havel.

Petr Kanko
Team: HC Sparta Praha
Born: February 7th, 1984
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 182 lbs.

Right now the top prospect in the Sparta Praha system, Petr scored a goal on his first game
in the Extraleague. He isn’t very big, but fast and smart. A good skater who can develop into
a great goal scorer. Has a good acceleration and perfect vision along with great hands. Sometimes
he plays in the mold of Pavel Bure, but should take care of the defensive duties sometimes, even
if it isn’t his main task on the ice.

Tomas Micka
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: June 7th, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 180 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 47th Euro

Tomas flipped over the lineup of the juniors of Slavia Praha this season. He is a big player
with good size, but could make use of his body more. Not a goal scorer, but a playmaker, Tomas
has good passing skills which could be used on the powerplay. He isn’t a great skater, but
skates good for a big man. Also quite good defensively, not easy to knock off the puck.

Milan Michalek
Team: HC Ceske Budejovice
Born: December 7th, 1984
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 185 lbs.

Milan saw action in the Extraleague as a 15 year old and is one of the world’s top prospects
for the 2003 NHL draft. Well built for his age, plays offensively and defensively equally
well, great skater with perfect hockey sense. Likes to have the puck on his stick and can
do smart things with it. A very mature player for a guy of his age, if he was some months
older, he would fight Jiri Hudler for the top 2002 eligible player title.

Zbynek Novak
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: July 23rd, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 57th Euro

Zbynek centered the first line of Slavia Praha juniors in some games this season, very hard
to knock off the puck, solid skater and stickhandler who likes to shoot the puck often. Has
the size to make room for his teammates and is able to create chances for them. Zbynek plays
a solid two-way game and with a good showing at the WJC he could move up the CSB rankings.

Daniel Volrab
Team: HC Sparta Praha
Born: March 11th, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 179 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 16th Euro

One of the best 1983 born forwards, Daniel is born on the same day as Lukas Krajicek. Practiced
with the senior team of Sparta a lot during the season, is a good skater with very good both
passing skills and scoring touch, very dangerous on powerplay units. Daniel has a good
acceleration and vision, is very good on the puck. His lack of aggresivness and sometimes not
very intense game are his drawbacks.

Tomas Plihal
Team: HC Liberec
Born: March 28th, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 176 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 39th Euro

Tomas showed this year that he can be a creative offensive forward just like a defensive one.
He is not the big star on this team, he is expected more to be a role player. Posesses good
instincts for the game and knows how to play in front of opponent’s net. Tomas is a reliable
forward. Good in every game situation.

Jiri Novotny
Team: HC Ceske Budejovice
Born: August 12th, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 184 lbs.
CSB mid-term rank: 9th Euro

And finally here comes the captain. Jiri is the leader of this team, played at the 2000 Under-18
WJC and spent most of the season with the senior team of Ceske Budejovice. A potential 2001
first round choice, Jiri isn’t a consistent scorer, but a faceoff specialist, hard working
reliable forward, aggresive along the boards, uses his size well and creates the chances
more than scores goals. Is always involved in the games and is able to play well every game.
Has the leadership skills to be a good captain.

Czech Republic team schedule (all Finnish time)

All games to be played in Heinola

April, 12th Czech Republic – Russia 4.30 p.m.
April, 14th Sweden – Czech Republic 3.00 p.m.
April, 16th Czech Republic – Norway 6.30 p.m.
April, 17th Germany – Czech Republic 8.00 p.m.