Czech 2002 prospects: Jakub Koreis

By Robert Neuhauser
Plzen, the Czech city near the Czech border, was waiting for their next highly touted
gem since the time when Pittsburgh Penguins’ Milan Kraft was skating for the local team
four years ago. Another Pens forward, Martin Straka, is also a native of Plzen and maybe
some time all three will be wearing the jersey of the same team. The next player from Plzen who
is very likely to reach the NHL is sized pivot Jakub Koreis, a blue-chipper for the June’s
draft.

Jakub Koreis is another player who proves that hockey players have often highly talented sons.
Only in Koreis’ draft class, 2002, you will find lots of Czech prospects who had their fathers
lacing up the skates and playing the game. The names of Mensator, Taticek, Kovar, Fleischmann,
and most importantly Hudler were household among Czech hockey fans even before their sons
were born. Jakub Koreis’ father Jiri Koreis is a local Plzen hockey legend, a longtime star
player for Plzen in the highest Czechoslovakian hockey league (Czech Republic didn’t exist
at that time). No wonder that he also brought his small son Jakub to the game very soon.
Jakub followed him to the practices and saw his dad live in hockey action when he watched the
games with his relatives. He began to like that sport very much and started to be eager to
play. Jakub’s dad brought him to the local rink in Plzen when Jakub was only four years old.
At that mere age he took his first strides and after quickly learning how to keep balance on
the skates, he took the stick into his hands and began to chase the puck. This year was Jakub
also admitted to play for the youngest grade team of Plzen, where at 4 years old he was
the youngest player.

Very soon the coaches saw that they have not only ‘the son of Jiri Koreis’ in front of them,
but also a immensely talented kid, who has a huge natural hockey sense. Thanks to the many
valuable tips of his father and a great dedication to the game the little Jakub began to
dominate the games. Since the very first time he made use of his great talent, vision and
hockey sense plus added lots of intensity and determination. These were the main assets
which inspired the coaches to award Jakub Koreis with a ‘C’ on his jersey and from now on
Jakub was the captain of Plzen’s 1984 born kids team. During the time when Jakub was
performing for the youngest grades, he was a great sniper. He scored lots of goals because
he was more talented and dedicated than the other kids and he could also outskate them.
This brought him lots of Best goalscorer trophies from various youth tournaments, where he
led the Plzen kids as a captain.
But as he grew in age and height, he took a small step back
from the pure scorer role. He realised that hockey is a blend of skill and toughness and
began to develop his nasty edge and toughness in order to became a more well-rounded player.
Here again his father, who was a forward, too, was the man who gave him the needed advices and he
does so till that time. So when performing for the higher grades Jakub already played a very
smart two-way game, with lots of smarts and smooth puckhandling skills, but also a portion
of toughness.

At that time he also slowly got rid of the label ‘Jiri Koreis’ son’ and made
a reputation of his own as an upcoming huge talent of Czech hockey. But there are still a
few things which connect his career with the one of his dad. First there is his nickname
‘Standa’ (other way to say the Czech name Stanislav), his father was nicknamed so during his
whole career. The second thing is then his favorite number 18. Jakub began to wear 18 since
the very beginning of his career, because his father also skated during the most of his
career with the number 18 on his back.

He wore the 18 also in the 1998-99 season, which was to become his first full season in the
midget Extraleague. After succesfully captaining the Plzen 9th grade team Jakub was promoted
to the midget team for his underage season. He did very well and was able to win a spot
in the regular offensive rotation. Big things were expected from the sturdy rookie in the
next season.
Jakub really lived up to the expectations and the first event, where he proved this fact,
was the selection camp for the new Under-16 team. Koreis left a huge impression there with
his superb two-way play. Not only that he won a spot on the team, but at the same time
he was also selected captain of the Czech Under-16 team of the 1984 borns.
In 1999-2000 Jakub Koreis captained his team at two tournaments, in a three-game series against
the Slovaks and then in a three-game series against the Under-16 team of Russia. At those tournaments he notched 11 points for 2 goals and 9 assists. He didn’t
perform at the major event of the international season, the Four Nations Tournament, because he was sick.
But in the midget Extraleague he notched way better numbers. The most of the season Jakub
spent still in the midget cathegory, where he scored 43 points for 21 goals and 22 assists
in 41 games, averaging slightly more than a point per game. But another interesting fact
is, that he could score at the same pace also at the junior level. Jakub was promoted to
the junior team of Plzen for 3 games, where he recorded 3 points for 2 goals and 1 assist.

His 2000-2001 international season was definitely more succesfull than the previous one. Jakub
participated in all tournaments of the season, with the exception of European’s Youth Olympics.
At the first tournament of the season, a three-game series against the Germans, Jakub shared
along with Robin Kovar the scoring lead of the Czech team with 4 points. Jakub Koreis notched
1 goal and 3 assists. Then he could score a goal at every tournament he took part in,
including the famous World Hockey Challenge. But there was also one exception, Jakub went
scoreless in an exhibition game against the Swiss team. Overall the Under-17 team captain
was also the scoring leader, Jakub Koreis averaged exactly one point per game as he scored
23 points for 9 goals and 14 assists in 23 international games. At +17 he was the best
also in the +/- cathegory of the 2000-2001 Czech Under-17 team.
Even if he was still midget Extraleague eligible, Jakub spent the 2000-2001 season already
in the junior Extraleague as an underage. For the Plzen midgets he dressed up for 9 games,
proving his dominancy as he recorded 17 points for 7 goals and 10 assists in those games.
In the junior ranks Jakub played 43 games, posting very solid numbers for an underaged
rookie. Jakub recorded 29 points for 14 goals and 15 assists.

This season Jakub was off another hot start in the Czech junior Extraleague, where he was the
leading personality of the Plzen juniors. After the first 23 games Jakub kept scoring at a
steady pace, notching 28 points for 14 goals and 14 assists in those 23 matches. After new
head coach Richard Farda took over the coaching duties for the Plzen seniors, Jakub was soon
awarded for his efforts in the juniors. He was promoted to the Plzen seniors to play in the
Extraleague. He was used mostly on the fourth line and had to wait more than 10 games for
his first Extraleague career point. But he knew when to record that inaugural point. The
game when
Plzen was playing at Trinec was Jakub’s first played in front of TV cameras and that night
he scored two goals, his first senior ones. So in the second break he could also give his
first TV interview. Unfortunately, an injured ankle has capped off Jakub’s Extraleague
season, so that after 20 senior games he had 3 points for 3 goals.
His international season was very succesfull, too. After a very solid showing at the Six
Nations Tournament in August and at the following Four Nations Tournament, Jakub’s star
took a rise at the Viking Cup. The two-time Czech star of the game recorded just one
assist, but was along with goalie Lukas Mensator the leading Czech personality.
Jakub Koreis was lucky enough that his injured ankle didn’t prevent him from participating
at the Under-18 WJC. There he was used as the center of the third or fourth line and left
a solid impression. If his ankle would be okay, he would surely do better than the 3 points
for 1 goal and 2 assists, but even then Jakub played a determinated two-way game and was
very effective in the faceoff circle as he won 51% of his draws. The bronze medal from the
Under-18 WJC is Jakub’s first major international success.

A star in the making, Jakub uses his big frame well and has the tools of a great playmaking
center who plays an all-round game. Koreis is an average skater but his uncanny ability
to read the plays allows him to foresee the situations and be at the right place in the right
time. His stickhandling is very solid and Jakub is strong on the puck. He can make very
smart decisions with it, covers it with his body well
and he likes to prepare scoring chances as well as score. Jakub won’t probably ever
be a pure goalscoring threat but a top-notch playmaker who can fight along the boards and in
front of the net where he looks for rebounds. Jakub also helps the defense a lot and is
willing to take a hit or make a hit. Jakub needs to refine his scoring touch a bit and be
more mature, else he has only very few weaknesses.

Jakub Koreis isn’t one of the too much superstitious players, who have to do lots of things
before they even touch the ice with their blades. Jakub’s only superstition is that he
always puts on his left skate first and that he dresses into the hockey gear from the left
side first. When the game is about to start, Jakub then touches the goalie’s pads with his
stick and after that he is ready to perform.
Jakub also performs well in other sports, not just hockey. Hockey is his most beloved sport,
but Jakub is also an accomplished soccer and tennis player. When he has enough free time, he
likes to join his friends for a soccer match or looks for a partner for a tennis outing. In
the last months Jakub also began to learn how to play golf and seems to like this sport. His
golf skills will come in handy in North America, where it is very popular also among Czech
players. Jakub is overall very talented for sports and he also attends a high school in Plzen,
which is concentrated on sports. He’ll graduate next year if he won’t come over to North
America.
But Jakub’s life isn’t only sport. He also likes to relax in order to have enough strength
for the games. When taking a rest and not sleeping, Jakub very often listens to songs of
his favorite music group R.E.M.
About his near future will be decided in the next months. He is looking forward to the NHL
Entry Draft, where he is considered as a potential first-rounder. He has no favorite NHL
team or player, so he is just looking to be drafted and doesn’t mind by what team. After
the draft he’ll take the final decision whether to stay with Plzen or come over to play
in the CHL. He has the undoubted talent so he’ll probably do well in North America!