Under-18 WJC: A look back at the Czech Republic team

By Robert Neuhauser

Since 1994 the Czech Under-18 teams have been waiting for medal success. Even this year
they finished out of the medal ranks. It is said that the 1983 birth year isn’t so good in the Czech
Republic and top prospects like Ales Hemsky or Lukas Krajicek are playing overseas, but this
team wasn’t shaky in any way. The team showed his spirit in the 5-4 penalty shots win over
Team USA in the quarterfinals. The Russians were the clear champions. But the other teams,
the Czech team including, played very solid games. Of course, every team is as good as the players
are. And there were quality players on the Czech roster. Here’s a review of the play
of every Czech player at the Under-18 WJC.


Miroslav Kopriva
Was supposed to be the backup but won the starting role. Even if he gave up 8 goals in the
first contest, he proved that he is a confident goalie with good reflexes. In the
quaterfinal game was replaced by Martin Laska, but the goals weren’t only his fault. However,
his chances to be drafted remain quite low.

Martin Laska
Played well in the quarterfinal game and was the hero of the penalty shots contest. Just like
Kopriva he was doomed by the Russian forwards in the semifinals, but showed that he can carry
the team when neeeded and that he can make the big save. Moved into the final CSB list.

Defensemen – surprises

Petr Puncochar
The best Czech defenseman. Played on the first line with teammate Lukas Chmelir, very dangerous
on the powerplay, displayed very solid passing and shooting skills, but also took care
of his own end. Made almost no mistakes, his play at the WJC could help him gain some
attention from the NHL scouts.

Lukas Chmelir
Paired with Puncochar, Lukas excelled with the puck. He makes his lack of size to his advantage,
Lukas was able to qaurterback the powerplay, also posesses good skating skills. As a good
puck-moving rearguard he could hear his name selected in June.

Jan Holub
The sized Liberec defenseman played his stay-at-home style, with almost no mistakes and very
good positional play. Was very good in clearing the space in front of the net and along the
boards. Left a good impression.

Martin Toms
The third defenseman from Karlovy Vary played an well-rounded game. Solid in his own end and
not afraid to join the rush. He is still a bit raw, but showed good instincts for the game
at the WJC. Also scored one game winner.

Defensemen – the others

Jan Platil
The help from the CHL had a little trouble to adjust to the bigger ice surface and the play
without the red line, made very few mistakes, but didn’t support the offense very much.
He was there where he should be but it wasn’t a stellar performance.

Martin Soucek
The defenseman from Trebic played as a realiable rearguard. Quite defensive, Martin didn’t shoot
the puck very often. But this wasn’t his main task, he was the grinder and that role he filled
quite well.

David Turon
David played a solid game at the WJC, was seldom caught out of place, but it sometimes seemed
that he didn’t read the play extremly well and he didn’t join the rush very often. On the
defensive side he was good, the defensive lacked creativity a bit in my opinion.

Ondrej Danicek
The reserve for Lukas Krajicek, Ondrej Danicek, was the seldom used defenseman. He didn’t see
a lot of ice time, especially on the special units. His main duty was not to make huge mistakes,
he didn’t, but Ondrej could play more aggresive to keep the opposition off the puck.

Forwards – surprises

Petr Kanko
Even if he is 1984 born Petr became the top scorer of the Czech team. He proved that he is a
real goal scorer and a big offensive threat. A quick skater with great acceleration and a
very accurate shot formed with Petr Domin and Zbynek Novak the best Czech line.

Jiri Novotny
Sidelined with flu in the bronze medal game, Jiri couldn’t help his team. Novotny, who wore the
C on his jersey, was the real leader. A faceoff specialist and a very good playmaker posted
very solid numbers at the Under-18 WJC. Even if he prefers passing to shooting he scored four
goals and proved that he belongs to the top 1983 born players in the world.

Petr Domin
The tallest player on the Czech roster played as a playmaking center at the Under-18 WJC. He
was there when the situation was hot, took by far the most draws, also took care of his own
end and distributed smart passes, mainly to the fast Petr Kanko. He upgraded his ranking with
his very good play with the puck at this WJC.

Marian Havel
This 1984 born center played both wing and center at the Under-18 WJC. Played the games of
the preliminary group on the first line with Novotny and Michalek, showed a fearless play
with very good skating and smarts. He doesn’t prefer defense but offensively he is a big

Tomas Plihal
Was supposed to be the scorer on the line with Tomas Micka and Lukas Dobry. A very agile
player has shot the puck whenever he had it on his stick. Very good on the powerplay, played
the games at high speed and intensity, his play helped him to upgrade his rankings on the
CSB final list.

Milan Michalek
The youngster of the team played on the tournament with Jiri Novotny, to whom he is used to
from his parent team Ceske Budejovice. Milan is a good skater and stickhandler and he
could even fill his defensive duties. Played a very mature game for a player of his age,
will be one of the top picks in 2003.

Zbynek Novak
The tall winger was one of the best defensive forwards of the team. Delivered some hits and
always helped the defense when needed, he also made room for the offensive duo of Domin and
Kanko. Displayed a solid vision and was one of the reliable role players of the team.

Frantisek Bakrlik
The Barrie Colt added the CHL flavor to the team. Played as a gritty forward with good
offensive instincts. Frankie has shot the puck often and was willing to fight along the
boards. Has left a good impression but could be better on the faceoffs, he won only one
of every four draws he took.

Forwards – the others

Daniel Volrab
The offensively gifted forward tried to play a well-rounded game. Was more defensive than
usual, but he sometimes was out of position and wasn’t able to bring himself into scoring
situations sometimes. Wasn’t as intense as a top prospect should be, with more aggresivity
his play would be at another level. But posesses enough natural talent for a solid position
at the NHL draft. But he fell in the CSB final rankings.

Tomas Micka
Tomas gives everytime everything to the team and that was what he was doing at the WJC. More
of a role player than a star, but the big winger could also add some offense. His goal in the
quarterfinal game helped to break the game. Tomas tried to make use of his size, but with
better skating his game would be better.

Jan Rehor
Jan, a winger of Ceske Budejovice juniors, failed in the task to add some offense to the team.
A good skater and stickhandler, but had some trouble with facing the top junior defensemen
in the world and was knocked off the puck sometimes too easily. But on the other hand he
tried to be creative and accelerated well with the puck.

Lukas Dobry
Lukas didn’t see much ice time and he tried to prefer the defensive duties. A role player, but
could add more aggresivity into his offensive play. Lukas didn’t have the puck on his stick
very often and could shoot it more.

At least six players from this team will be drafted in June: Jiri Novotny, Petr Domin,
Petr Puncochar and Tomas Plihal among the favorites. All 1984 born players are going to be
drafted in their respective years (Kanko and Havel in 2002, Michalek in 2003). This team
didn’t lack qaulity in any way. All they needed was more luck in scoring.