Kamil Kreps – the new soldier in the Battalion

By Robert Neuhauser
One of the most talented players on the prospect-stocked Czech Under-18 WJC team was
Brampton Battalion forward Kamil Kreps. Kamil is the latest product from the famed Czech
team Litvinov, which was always known for raising quality forwards. Former Pittsburgh
Penguins’ head coach and ex-NHLer Ivan Hlinka was the first one to have a decent NHL career.
After that other players like Robert Lang, Robert Reichel, Martin Rucinsky or Josef
Beranek have or had more or less succesfull NHL careers. But there are other young gems
waiting to take their place. Kamil Kreps is one of them.

As a son of a hockey coach Kamil Kreps felt the chill of the ice very soon. His father
coached the young kids in Litomerice, the city where also Kamil was born and when Kamil
was four years old, he bought him a pair of skates and Kamil stood on the ice for the
first time. He made his first strides at the Litomerice rink and immediately began to feel
comfortable on the ice surface. After the next two years, when Kamil was six, he had
enough skill to start his own hockey career and was admitted to play for the youngest
grade of Litomerice, where his father was a coach. He gave him all the tips and
could have an immediate influence on Kamil’s career when he coached him when Kamil played
for the 4th, 5th and 6th grade.
The young Kamil also had to work very
hard to prove everybody that he is really better than the other guys and not only the son
of a coach. But his natural talent helped him to dominate in the games and his dedication
to the game was evident at the practices. Kamil did a lot of skating drills which were
they key to his strong skating and fluid stride. Thanks to this he could outskate the
opposing defensemen and his soft hands allowed him to handle the puck extremly well and
score lots of goals. This brought him many trophies from various youth tournaments, mostly
for the Top scorer or Best forward.

There were lots of talented kids on the Litomerice team, such as
two years younger Michal Birner, the star of the current Czech Under-16 team, but Kamil
Kreps was the leader of the bunch. He was highly respected both on and off the ice so that
it is no wonder that when entering the 5th grade, Kamil Kreps was selected captain of the
Litomerice team. He had another impressive season, but had his showing somewhat spoiled
by a broken hand. Still, he established himself as one of the brightest prospects in the
whole country, contributing to the fact that the 1984 birthyear is really strong. Extraleague
teams, looking for their future players, eyed Kamil Kreps soon. Famed ‘factory for forwards’
Litvinov is a city nearby Litomerice and it was quite obvious that Kamil will boost the
Litvinov pipeline of young talent. The last season in Litomerice was the one when Kamil
was performing for the 7th grade team. That year he suffered a mild concussion, but still
proved that he has nothing to prove in Litomerice and is ready to face tougher competition
in Litvinov.

So for the 8th grade team Kamil was already wearing the black-gold colors of
Litvinov. And in the next season he enjoyed a major success with the Litvinov 9th grades,
when the team won the Czech championship title. After the celebrations it was time for Kamil
to get ready for a huge step – performing full-time in the midget Extraleague.
Kamil skated for the Litvinov midgets already in the 1998-99 season as an underage and with
his tremendous puckhandling ability he impressed head coach Obrtlik enough to earn a
stabile roster spot for the next season. In 42 games Kamil scored 40 points for 20 goals
and 20 assists.

The 1999-2000 season is definitely one to remeber for Kamil. After performing well at the
selection tournament for the Under-16 team he finally wore the Czech national team’s
jersey. The most important tournament for him was the Four Nations Tournament in Angerholm,
Sweden, where the young Czechs were the winning squad.
In the midget Extraleague he took over the role of one of the Litvinov midgets leaders. He
played the full schedule of 48 games and scored 18 goals plus 16 assists for a total of
34 points. That effort was good for the fifth place overall in Litvinov midgets scoring.

In 2000-2001 he emerged also as one of the Czech Under-17 team’s leading personalities. He
scored at a steady pace and with the exception of one game against Switzerland he scored
goals at every tournament he took part in during the season. He shared the goalscoring lead
at the Four Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic with two goals, along with Jakub Koreis
and Jan Herman. Kamil scored two goals also at the World Hockey Challenge and the only
tournament he missed was the European’s Youth Olympics. Overall for the Czech Under-17 team
in 2000-2001 Kamil played 23 games, registering 15 points for 9 goals and 6 assists. That placed
him third overall in the Under-17 team’s scoring.

Most of the 2000-2001 Kamil already spent with the Litvinov juniors as an underage player. In
the midget Extraleague, where he was still eligible to play, Kamil dressed up for 9 games,
scoring 6 goals and adding 9 helpers for a total of 15 points. With the Litvinov juniors
Kamil played 44 games, where he found the net 12 times and notched 20 assists, which was
good for 32 points. In one game of the summer Zepter Hockey Cup Kamil already skated with
the Litvinov seniors, playing one period on the fourth line and going scoreless.

Kamil Kreps is a very good skater with a nice burst of speed and is capable of fast turns.
He is a finesse forward who handles his stick extremly well and is blessed with great
puckhandling skills. He can play in traffic well and his superb vision and hockey sense
allow him to pass the puck through holes unseen by others, but Kamil is also a very good
goalscorer. Once he improves his shooting skills, he can develop into a feared sniper.
He has a solid shot, but it still could be improved a bit. Kamil could also use more
aggresivness, but he is learning this in the OHL. He is also trying to be more aware
defensively in order to be an all-round forward. Thanks to his growth spurt Kamil now
posesses solid size (6’1”, 170 lbs.) and has all the tools to succeed in North America, when
he bulks up.

He was aware of this fact and was willing to try his luck in the CHL after the previous
season. No wonder that the Brampton Battalion of the OHL grabbed him with the 5th overall
pick in the 2001 CHL Import Draft.
So Kamil Kreps arrived in the Toronto suburb Brampton last summer to start his North
American career in the OHL. He left a very good performance at the Battalion’s training
camp and had a roster spot in Stan Butler’s team for sure. On the ice he understood his
teammates well, in the dressing room not so much. Kamil didn’t have any knowledge of English
when he crossed the sea, so his beginnings were quite difficult. But after the first three
months he began to feel very comfortable in Brampton as he got used to the different culture
and also his English took a rapid improvement. He even began to attend a secondary school
in Brampton and will continue his education also in the follwing year. Kamil’s main task
in Brampton remained hockey, of course. For the most games he found himself on a line with
Chris Rowan and Ryan Bowness. He had an only average first half of the season, mainly due
to his transition problems, but bounced back with a strong second half which meant 43 points
for 19 goals and 24 assists in 68 games. He won Brampton’s rookie scoring by far and is their
nominee for the Emms Family Award for the OHL’s top rookie.

After the end of the Battalion’s season Kamil was ready to return home and perform
at the Under-18 WJC. He won a spot on the team after the selection camp and travelled with
the team to Slovakia. Kamil had a slow start into the Under-18 WJC when he couldn’t find the
net often, but bounced back with a strong Final Group showing which saved his performance.
For the bronze-medal Czechs Kamil played all 8 games, scoring 5 points for 3 goals and 2
assists. He was a +2 and logged 6 PIMs.
Kamil Kreps faced such a tough schedule for the first time in his life so he is aware of
how is a good rest important for an young athlete. He likes to relax, but in his free time
also often plays some other sport. Besides hockey Kamil’s favorite sports are soccer and
tennis, as usual by many young Czech players. Kamil is also a huge fan of music, he chooses
his music by his mood, the most favorite group for him is ‘The Offspring’.

Kamil has only one hockey superstition. When he is putting up the hockey gear, he always
starts from the right side. He is also a huge NHL fan, where his most favorite team is
the Colorado Avalanche. Kamil admires Avs’ star Peter Forsberg because he likes ‘Foppa’s’
style of play. Thanks to his late birthdate he isn’t NHL Entry Draft eligible until 2003
and he is looking forward to this event very much. Like most young players, he doesn’t mind
what team will pick him, he is just happy with the fact that he has chances on a NHL career,
which is his dream. For the next season Kamil will return to Brampton and after that the
draft will be awaiting him. His performance in the next season will be very important as
from this will also depend his draft position. Good luck!