Czech Under-20 preliminary roster

By Ivana Paulova

Coaches of the Czech Under-20 Team Alois Hadamczik and Mojmír Trlièík selected 29 players for the training camp in Slany, leading up to the 2004 World Junior Championship. Only 22 lucky players will be on the flight to Finland. During the next week it will be decided who will go and who will stay at home.

The team is much stronger this year then it was last year or the year
before when the Czech team captured seventh and sixth place positions respectively. The team is mainly composed of players 84 born which is the category of some very talented hockey players who won the bronze medal two years ago at the U-18 World Junior Championship.

Goals of the Czech squad

Ambitious head coach Alois Hadamczik talks about what would be success.

“If we are among the top three teams I would be satisfied. To medal would be a success. Czech hockey needs such a result.”

The Czech juniors ruled the world two years ago capturing two World Junior titles in 2000 in Sweden and in 2001 in Russia. The rest of the hockey world criticized the Czechs for being too passive and too defensive, but it brought success. The last two years the Czech team had to face totally a different situation, complete failure. There was inevitable switching of coaches and so 51-year-old Alois Hadamczik, coach of the senior team of HC Sparta Praha, replaced Jaroslav Holik.

Experience from previous championships

Last year in Halifax the Czech team was composed only out of 83 and 84
borns whereas this year it seems that even some younger players will get opportunity to perform. Goaltender Lukas Mensator (Vancouver Canucks) will bring experience from last year’s championship, but he is said to be the second goalie after the talented Marek Schwarz who is only 17 years old and eligible for 2004 draft.

“He is the starting goalie in Extraleague, he is ready and will be No. 1. If we would act differently we would deny our values,” confirmed Hadamczik. In the forward the Czech squad will have one of the most productive players of the whole WHL, Tomas Fleischmann.
Other players that already experienced the atmosphere of the U-20 World
Junior Championship are Jakub Koreis (Phoenix Coyotes), Jakub
Klepis
(Buffalo Sabres) and Roman Vondracek (undrafted).

Jiri Hudler

A separate case is Jiri Hudler, who will be the only member of the team
with the experience from the NHL, playing for Detroit Red Wings. The
probable first line center of the Czech team will join the team just before the departure to Finland. For Hudler this would be a third World Junior Championship when he was already present at the 2002 World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic and he was said to be the best player on the team. Hudler was also member of the senior national team during the 2003 World Championship in Finland. So he is the most experienced Czech player and his contribution to the team effort and performance will be the key factor.

“Jiri is a great player and it was very important for us that he himself said that he wants to play in Finland,” added coach Hadamczik.

Not Chosen for last year’s WJC

Vojtech Polak (Dallas Stars) and Rostilslav Olesz (2004 eligible) were invited to the senior national team last year but were also not chosen last year to the Under-20 junior team, which was quite a surprise to hockey experts and also to the players themselves. This year they should not miss out the Championship as well as other players who were last year in the preliminary roster but in the end were not chosen, these are defenders Ondrej Nemec (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Michal Barinka (Chicago Blackhawks) playing in the AHL for Norfolk Admirals and forward Kamil Kreps (Florida Panthers) playing in the OHL for Brampton Battalion.

Rookies

The team will rely mostly on the experience and skills of the players born in 1984 who demonstrated their abilities and also great inner strength at the U-18 World Junior Championship. But some talented 1985 born players also managed to get a nomination including defenders Petr Horava (undrafted), forwards Vojtech Polak and Petr Vrana (New Jersey Devils) and two 85 late borns so 2004 eligible players Rostlislav Olesz and Lukas Kaspar. Some even younger players were also invited and it looks like they have a real chance of making the team. These are 86 borns goalie Marek Schwarz, defender Ladislav Smid and forwards Jakub Sindel and Karel Hromas.

Goaltenders Schwarz and Mensator are certain, and the third goalie Popperle may not be added to the roster. Out of the 10 defenders only seven will go and 13 out of 15 forwards will be chosen by the coaches to represent the Czech Republic in Finland. Coach Hadamczik says “it was not easy to choose these players, there was a variety of good players. We were especially considering if we would add David Svagrovsky (Colorado Avalanche) and Jakub Langhammer (undrafted). If the Championship was played in the North America on the narrower rink, chance would be probably given also to Matej Trojovsky (Carolina Hurricanes) and Martin Lojek (Florida Panthers).”

Petr Kanko

Another chapter on its own is Petr Kanko, who promised Sparta Praha he wouldn’t leave for North America and on the next day he was sitting in a plane heading to Toronto in August 2001. He was chosen by Kitchener Rangers in 2001 Import draft as second overall. Sparta wanted Kanko back and the issue went to
the court. Sparta did not get Kanko back but at least made sure he could not represent Czech Republic on the international scene. Kanko was drafted to NHL by Los Angeles Kings in 2002 as 66th overall. His case was not solved for another year, the two sides came to resolution in the summer 2003. After long two and a half years, Petr Kanko will have a chance to again represent Czech Republic at a major tournament.

Coach’s Comments

“We already have the skeleton of the team but I would like to stress that no one has secured position in the team. It was really hard
decision-making process. We invited 10 players from the North America but that does not mean that maybe two of them will stay at home,” said Coach Hadamczik. “The only thing that I regret is the absence of Milan Michalek who is injured. He is an excellent player and great guy in the locker room as well.”

The first game of the Czech team will be on December 26th against the rookie team from Ukraine, then Czechs will face hosting Finland, Canada and Switzerland. The Czech coach Hadamczik comments on the opponents.

“Canada is always strong. Finland will be supported by the home atmosphere and they also have a good team this year. And Switzerland? They made a huge jump, they are aggressive and skate well.”

Czech Republic Preliminary Roster

Goaltenders

Marek Schwarz HC Sparta Praha, now Plzen 1. 4. 1986
Tomáš Popperle HC Sparta Praha 10.10. 1984
Lukas Mensator Ottawa 67´s (OHL) 18. 8. 1984

Defense

Ondrej Nemec Vsetinska hokejova a.s. 18. 4. 1984
Jiri Hunkes HC Ocelari Trinec 31. 7.
1984
Ctirad Ovcacik HC Bili tygri Liberec 18. 10.
1984
Michal Barinka Norfolk Admirals (AHL) 12. 6.
1984
Petr Horava HC Rabat Kladno 22. 7.
1985
Marek Chvatal Sarnia Sting (OHL) 27. 1.
1984
Tomas Linhart HC Moeller Pardubice 16. 2.
1984
Ladislav Smid HC Bili tygri Liberec 1. 2.
1986
Martin Vágner Hull Olympiques (QMJHL) 16. 3. 1984
Ondrej Stanek HC Slavia Praha 19. 2.
1984

Forwards

Petr Kanko Kitchener Rangers (OHL) 19. 6.
1984
Tomas Fleischmann Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) 16. 5. 1984
Karel Hromas HC Sparta Praha 27. 1.
1986
Jakub Koreis Guelph Storm (OHL) 26. 6.
1984
Kamil Kreps Brampton Battalion (OHL) 18.11. 1984
Lukas Pabiska HC Bili tygri Liberec 24. 2.
1984
Jakub Klepis HC Slavia Praha 5. 6.
1984
Jakub Sindel HC Sparta Praha 24. 1.
1986
Jiri Hudler Detroit Red Wings (NHL) 4. 1.
1984
Rostislav Olesz HC Vitkovice 10.10.
1985
Vojtech Polak HC Energie Karlovy Vary 27. 6.
1985
Roman Vondracek HC Sparta Praha 26. 9. 1984
Lukas Kaspar HC Chemopetrol Litvinov 23. 9. 1985
Roman Bilek HC Lasselsberger Plzen 23. 2.
1984
Radim Hruska Vsetinska hokejova a.s. 12.10. 1984
Petr Vrana Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) 19. 3. 1985