Trinec won Czech Midget Extraleague

By Robert Neuhauser
In early April, there is the final series of the Czech midget Extraleague on the schedule. The
playing scheme is the same as in the junior Extraleague and the playoff games in both leagues
are played the same day. Like in juniors, the regular season consists of 38 games. The 20 teams
are divided into two Groups, called A and B. Group A is for the teams from the western cities
of the Czech Republic and Group B for the eastern ones. During the regular season every team
meets opponents only from their own group. The top 6 teams in every group create then two
Final groups. During the Final group teams meet opponenets only from the other Final group
and play them twice – home and away. Once the Final group games are finished, the top four
teams from every Final group create four quartefinal pairs and from then now it is a regular
playoff, with quarterfinal and semifinal series and the championship series.
In the midget league players with birthyear 1985 or younger are eligible to play this season
and the teams consist mostly of 1985 and 1986 born players. Top 1987 prospects play in the
league too, even if they still can play for Grade 9. But it is only a few of them, most of the
1987 born split this season between the midgets and Grade 9.

This year HC Ocelari Trinec and HC Continental Zlin fought their way into the finals. Trinec captain
Premysl Skapa acquired presents from the general sponsor Nutella for the regular season’s
best team and also Trinec was said to be a slightly better team than Zlin. During the whole season
Trinec, coached by respected coach Radomir Kuzilek, played an attractive offensive style where
lots of goals were scored. They were dominating the B Group and swept their opponents with
ease on their way to the finals. No wonder, they have lots of gems on the team. Centers
of all three lines have seen playing time with the Under-16 team this season, with swift skating
Jan Danecek
being the best one. But unfortunately, after suffering a broken ankle early in the season,
Danecek had severe problems with his ankle again and was sidelined for the whole series. The
other two centers are then Radomir Cizek and David Krejci. Tough, sized Vaclav Meidl was
also a regular for the youngest Czech national team this season and is considered to be
a solid 2004 prospect. Two more Trinec players wore the Czech national team sweater this
season. Forwards Michal Rak and Jan Steber skated for the Under-17 team in 2001-2002 and this
duo appeared also on the World Hockey Challenge. Trinec also boasts two 1987 born gems, who
have an international career ahead. Skilled forwards Tomas Pospisil and Ondrej Fiala (isn’t
eligible until the 2006 NHL Entry Draft) showed a steady improvement during the season and
will likely play for the Under-16 team next season.

On the other side, Zlin relied more on defense and team play than on the showings of
bright individualities. They have only two players who have seen a significant playing time
for any of the junior national teams. Stay-at-home defenseman Jiri Paska was a regular with
the Under-17 team while playmaker Stanislav Balan fought his way into the Under-16 team.
There are two more players in Zlin who could pan out to be bright prospects. Twins Roman
Psurny and Michal Psurny, 1986 born, shone for the 9th grade team last year and this
year they adjusted to the midget cathegory extremly well and were one of the leading
personalities. Zlin had his advantage in better defense and size of the players – Trinec
waterbugs had only five players taller than 5’10” on their roster.

The first contest took place in the Trinec Arena and the idea of a high-scoring offensive
game could be forgotten after the first minutes. Both teams were waiting for the mistakes of
the opposition and both goalies stole the show – Marek Wolf in the net for Trinec and Tomas
Sturala for Zlin. And Zlin was the team who made the first mistake. Trinec’s Jaroslav Hubner
broke into the Zlin zone off the left wing, avoided a hit from the defenseman and has beaten
Sturala blocker side high. Zlin was a bit down then but they found their game again soon.
But on the other side, Trinec increased the lead. It was a play of the
elite line, consisting of national team players Jan Steber-David Krejci-Michal Rak. Steber
won the puck at the boards in the neutral zone and as he crossed the blue line, has left it
behind himself, where Michal Rak was waiting for this situation. Rak then immediately fed
David Krejci, who had a good scoring chance now. Krejci shuffled the puck, made two strides
to improve his position and after aiming his shot he sent it behind Tomas Sturala’s back.
This turned out to be the game winner, scored with two minutes left to play in the second.
Soon after the opening faceoff of the third period Roman Psurny fired a wrist shot on Wolf, who
allowed a
rebound but Psurny instead of trying to shoot again went with the puck behind the net and found
his twin Michal with his pass. Michal Psurny then chipped the puck into the empty net to cut
the deficit. Zlin pressed hard in the third stanza but even if
Trinec made some mistakes, Zlin couldn’t make use of them. Marek Wolf made 38 saves to earn
the win and now Trinec was just one win shy from the championship title.

Zlin didn’t want to see Trinec crowned in their own arena, but faced serious trouble with
injuries. So it came that on the third line there had to be three defensemen used to fix
the roster. The pace of this contest was the same as the game before and Trinec picked up
where they left last game – with some dumb penalties and mistakes. But they could get rid
of it soon as head coach Kuzilek used his authority. After that it was a waiting for the
first goal, which could be the deciding one. Once again, Trinec scored first. David Krejci
made a beautiful pass across the neutral zone right on the tape of Michal Rak, who was waiting
at the Zlin’s blue line. Thanks to this Rak was awarded by a breakaway situation. With a bit
of luck he deked Tomas Sturala with his backhand move and gave the lead to Trinec. David
Krejci could give Trinec a two-goal cushion as he raced for another breakaway in the second
period, but this time Sturala was the succesfull one. Trinec created a steady pressure, but
Zlin was still able to create scoring chances. However, all of them ended on Marek Wolf, who
had another stellar showing that game. So it came that after 60 minutes of the game Trinec
midgets could celebrate the championship title with the golden medals around their necks
and captain Premysl Skapa hoisted the cup for the Midget Extraleague champions. The win
was really a deserving one!

Top playoff scorers Trinec

GamesGoalsAssistsPoints
1. Michal Rak6538
2. David Krejci 6 2 4 6
3. Lukas Bindac 63 2 5
4. Jan Steber 6 2 2 4
5. Ondrej Fiala6 224
6. Milan Gajda6303

Top playoff scorers Zlin

GamesGoalsAssistsPoints
1. Roman Psurny6336
2. Jiri Klima6 325
3. Michal Psurny6 325
4. Vaclav Klabacka 6 033
5. Pavel Kubis3202
6. Stanislav Balan4112