Czech 2004 prospects: Lukas Vomela

By Robert Neuhauser
Not playing for all the junior national teams isn’t a common thing among serious NHL prospects, who usually pass all the way from the Under-16 team. But some of them hit the spotlight at a later time, making a name for themselves with the Under-18 or Under-20 teams. One of those is Lukas Vomela, a defenseman of HC Ceske Budejovice.

Lukas Vomela didn’t have his immediate hockey role model in his father, but more in his grandfather and his uncle. These two relatives of Lukas both pursued a hockey career and the grandfather was the person who brought the little Lukas to the game. Hockey wasn’t the first sport of Lukas, though. When he was five years old, he began to play tennis and even took tennis lessons in the local club in his native Ceske Budejovice. He spent two years playing tennis, but wasn’t really happy about playing this sport and about his own results, so it was time for a change. And at that time Lukas’ grandfather took him to the hockey arena in Ceske Budejovice and suggested him to play organised hockey. The seven-year old Lukas liked the game and agreed on this quickly. That meant the end of the tennis practices and start of the hockey ones.

The coaches have put the lanky kid on defense, a position which should fit Lukas well. He really felt comfortable in the back rows and soon emerged as one of the most talented kids on the team. Lukas was learning quickly the first letter of the hockey alphabet and could add solid leadership skills, so him was given the captain duties as soon as on the 3rd grade team. At that time Lukas made appearances on the first atom tournaments and sometimes went the Ceske Budejovice captain home with a trophy for the best defenseman of the tournament. From those times he prefers to wear the number 9 on his jersey, which is his favorite number till now.

In the second year when Lukas Vomela was leading the Ceske Budejovice 1985 born team came his first major success. The whole team, coached by coach Tomas Vasek, enjoyed a great season and made the trip to the unofficial championship tournament of the best 4th grade teams from the whole Czech Republic, played in Sumperk. That even was won by the Ceske Budejovice 4th graders, who could celebrate the title.

Lukas’ steady play was helpful for his team also in the following season, when Lukas gained a reputation of one of the most skilled defensemen of his region. He was loaded with a decent hockey sense and could eventually chip in offensively. Because he was already playing in the system of an Extraleague team, he didn’t need to move anywhere unlike talented kids from smaller towns with no Extraleague franchise. Under head coach Milan Jindra he learned how to make his size to his advantage and began to be dedicated also to the off-ice practices.

In the pee-wee age he began to play in a pair with Petr Machacek very often and the two formed a perfect combo as they understood one another on the ice well. Together they were the cornerstone of the Ceske Budejovice 1985 borns defense and were preparing for the jump to the midget ranks. Lukas Vomela played a very solid season for the 9th grade team under head coach Frantisek Cech and felt that he is mature enough to compete at the midget level in the 1999-2000 season as an underager.

Blessed with a 6’2”, 180 lbs. frame, Vomela has a nice size but has some filling out to do before he can emerge as a physical menace. More of a stay-at-home defenseman, he concentrates on having his defensive duties done before he occasionally joins the rush and displays his offensive side. A decent skater for a player of his size, Vomela could still use more mobility and balance, which would make his defensive zone coverage more effective. He is a solid shooter from the point and has adequate passing skills. He tries to keep his game simple and is coveted for his reliability, but could further improve his decision making with the puck. Vomela plays a sound positional game, but for a player of his size he could show a bigger physical edge and a mean streak. He tends to rely on finesse more than on toughness. Bulking up will be essential in his development.

Ceske Budejovice midgets head coach Milan Starek liked what he saw from Lukas at the summer camp of the midget team and Lukas could count on cracking the lineup of the team which was thinking about winning the championship trophy that season. The roster boasted the likes of Milan Michalek or Michal Barinka and the players were experienced winners. Lukas could learn from them if it wasn’t for one very unhappy thing. A motorbike fan, Lukas had a quite serious motorbike crash and injured his leg. Thanks to this injury he was limited to only 7 games with the championship trophy winning Ceske Budejovice midgets in 1999-2000, going scoreless, with a +2 and no penalty minutes.

The next season Lukas found himself in top health and earned solid ice time on an average Ceske Budejovice midget team, hampered with the graduations of the top prospects to juniors. Lukas was focusing on his defensive duties, filling the role of a reliable stay-at-home rearguard without any trouble. He dressed up for 39 games, putting up 2 points for 1 goal and 1 assist to go along with a +/- of -7 and 8 PIMs. Lukas was relying on his smarts more than on using his big frame ad didn’t show much of a nasty edge.

The 2001-2002 campaign was already Lukas’ third on the elite midget level. He had hopes on getting promoted full-time to the juniors as an underager, but the Ceske Budejovice juniors were set on defense and Lukas would hardly get any significant playing time, so he skated with the midgets for most of the season. He appeared in only one junior game, where he didn’t register any points and went with a +/- of -1. In the midget team he was relied upon as the defensive anchor, making use of all his experience from the midget Extraleague. He also registered a decent offensive contribution that season, finally reaching double digits in points. Lukas Vomela played 36 games for the midgets, notching 6 goals and 5 assists for a total of 11 points, a +/- of -2 and 51 PIMs, indicating that his toughness took an upgrading curve.

In this season Lukas Vomela, nicknamed ‘Vomic’ because of his surname, was no longer midget Extraleague eligible and made the succesfull jump to the junior ranks. Junior coaches Vladimir Caldr and Jan Tlacil have let Lukas skate mostly on the third line, but as the season progressed, he saw more playing time. He got accustomed to the junior Extraleague relatively fast and soon felt comfortable on the elite junior level. Lukas dressed up for 48 junior games, scoring 2 goals and 3 assists for a total of 5 points, an even +/- and 44 PIMs. He impressed with his mature steady play well enough to earn a promotion even to the senior team for his debut in the Czech senior Extraleague. In the last game of the regular season against Litvinov Lukas Vomela was paired with Slovak veteran Stanislav Jasecko for the debut. He registered two minor penalties, thus 4 PIMs, +/- of -2 and no points.

After being overlooked in the Under-16 and Under-17 cathegories, Lukas Vomela was finally invited to start his international career with the Under-18 team this season. Coaches Karel Najman and Jaroslav Beck have put Lukas into the lineup for the Five Nations Tournament, played in Bern, Switzerland in late December and early January. Lukas went there scoreless. His second international showing came at the selection camp of the Czech Under-18 WJC team. Again in a pair with Petr Machacek Lukas scored his first international point for a goal in the second exhibition game against Slovakia. His steady showings made the coaches invite Lukas to the most important tournament of the Under-18 schedule, the Under-18 WJC in Yaroslavl, Russia. There he skated on the first line alongside Petr Machacek. In 6 Under-18 WJC games Lukas notched 1 point for 1 assist, a +/- of -1 and 6 PIMs.

Lukas isn’t a very superstitious player. He has only two things he does always the same. The first is the way how he prepares his sticks before each game and the second is how he hangs his gear in the locker room.
In his free time Lukas mostly tries to have a rest in order to have strength for the games or fills his school duties. He is learning the cook’s profession and has good hopes on not to be hungry. He isn’t a very demanding person and eats everything he gets for his dinner, to drink he prefers mostly juices. When he doesn’t cook foods, then Lukas likes to spend time with his friends, either by playing his favorite soccer or by going to the cinema to watch new movies.
A music fan, Lukas prefers to listen to disco or techno music.

Lukas along with his agent Milan Kasparek haven’t decided where he will play in the next season, but he prefers staying with Ceske Budejovice and fighting for a spot on the senior team more than coming over to play in the CHL. But didn’t rule that possibility out. The Colorado Avalanche fan Lukas Vomela hopes into being drafted in 2004 and hopefully play in the NHL some day. Good luck!