USHL and eleven playing in CHL will represent Slovakia at upcoming WJC in
Slovakian team for the WJC is made up of seven players from the Slovakian
leagues, two playing in Czech Republic, two playing in USHL and eleven playing
in CHL. The team is a combination of players born in 1984 and 1985. The team
will try to continue the trend set last season when the U20 team finished fifth
and the U18 team (players born in 1985) won silver medals in Russia. Slovakia
plays in Group A against Russia, USA, Austria and Sweden.
short profiles of key players:
Jaroslav Halak G 05/13/85 5`11“ 172 L
Drafted by Montreal 9th round 2003
the key factor for the team`s success. In April he was excellent and led U18
team to silver medals. In the 2003 NHL Draft he was selected by Montreal
Canadiens in ninth round. Halak started this season in junior team of Slovan
Bratislava. In November when the men`s starting goalie was injured and his
backup goalie was on cold streak, Halak became No. 1 goalie in Slovan`s
Extraleague team. In total, he played in 11 games with 6 wins, 3 ties and only
one loss. He has 1.52 GAA and .945 save percentage. Later he was sent back to
his junior team to prepare for the WJC.
Andrej Meszaros D 10/13/85 6`2“ 189 R
2004 Draft Eligible
should be the leader of the team. He knows most of his teammates, because he
played at two U18 WJCs. In April he was the captain of the silver medal winning
team. This season he won his regular spot in Dukla Trencin`s Extraleague team.
He is rushing defenseman who can be a great power play quarterback. He reads the
play very well and intercepts a lot of passes in neutral zone. Meszaros is the
top 2004 draft eligible prospect out of Slovakia.
Ivan Baranka D 05/19/85 6`2“ 183 L
Drafted by NY Rangers 2nd round 2003
was the highest Slovaka pick in 2003 NHL Draft when being selected by Rangers
in second round. He is playing his rookie season in the WHL for the Everrett
Silvertips. He is the key defenseman in the team`s inaugural season. Baranka
has great mobility for his size. He makes hard and accurate hits and also plays
great without the puck as he makes a lot of space for his teammates. He will
play in pairing with QMJHLer Milan Hruska as they did last year on the U18
Richard Stehlik D 06/22/84 6`4“ 240 L
Drafted by Nashville 3rd round 2003
is the team`s captain and most experienced player. This will be his third WJC,
finishing eighth in 2002 and fifth in 2003. Stehlik started his second season
in Lewiston Maineiacs team in QMJHL (former Sherbrooke Castors). Before playing
in CHL he finished two seaons in Slovak Extraleague in his hometown team HK 36
Skalica. Only Marian Gaborik was younger when playing regularly in Slovak
Extraleague. Stehlik is an aggressive defenseman with hard shot from the point.
He was drafted by Predators in third round of 2003 NHL Draft.
Rastislav Spirko RW 06/21/84 5`9“ 175 R
hasn`t been drafted by any NHL team, probably because of his size. He is
smallish forward with solid scoring touch. He is very creative player. Last
year he was rookie of the year in Slovak Extraleague and now plays in Tri City
Storm in USHL. Spirko leads the league with 20 goals in 26 games. He is the key
offensive player of this team.
Stefan Ruzicka RW 02/17/85 5`11“ 189 R
Drafted by Philadelphia 3rd round 2003
is another offensive threat in this team. He is natural goal scorer. Being
selected by Flyers in the third round of NHL Draft, he decided to play in CHL.
After short time of adaptation he started to score goals and became team`s top
scoring forward. Ruzicka has natural scoring instinct and soft hands. He
controls the puck pretty well. He is point-per-game player.
26 Apr 1985