Radek Smolenak joins the Czech Under-18 team

By Robert Neuhauser

With Czech forward Tomas Mertl going down with a broken hand in the opening game of the 2004 Under-18 WJC against Slovakia and 1988 born Michael Frolik having to leave the team prior to the fourth game against Finland due to appendicitis, Czech Under-18 team coaches Jaromir Sindel and Zdenek Cech decided to recall one forward from the reserve list to boost the depleted lineup. This decision shut the door on a 2004 Under-18 WJC performance for 2005 eligible blue-chip defenseman Jakub Kindl, who was sidelined with a flu and now ready to join the team in Minsk, Belarus. The Czechs will ice two goaltenders, seven defensemen and eleven forwards in the remaining Under-18 WJC games. The following is a profile on the newcomer Radek Smolenak.

Radek Smolenak
Team: HC Rabat Kladno Jr.
Birthdate: December, 3rd, 1986
Birthplace: Kladno, Czech Republic
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 185 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB mid-term rank: 2005 eligible

The former midget Extraleague goalscoring champion from 2002-2003 made a relatively smooth transition to the junior Extraleague level, getting adjusted after a few games and showing the play which gained him respect at the lower age levels in the later stages of the 2003-2004 season. Smolenak wasn’t among the core players of the Czech junior national team of the 1986 borns, performing only sporadically and missing the most important tournaments of the schedule. However, under the tutelage of coach Jaromir Sindel Smolenak recorded a solid progress this season, which earned him a spot on the Czech Under-18 WJC team.

Don’t expect miracles from this late 1986 born player, but should serve as a dependable forward. One thing you immediately notice when looking at Radek Smolenak is his hulking frame. At 6’2″, 185 lbs. he boasts an above-average size, he only needs to add more bulk to his frame in order to become a bigger physical menace. Smolenak is a slick puckhandler who utilizes on his vision to create strong plays or finish the scoring chances on his own. He doesn’t hesitate to unleash his quick wrist shot with a good accuracy. His slap shot could still use some polishing, it is of adequate hardness, but could be more accurate. Still more of a lanky player, Smolenak should use his frame to a bigger extent and show more of a mean streak when battling along the walls and in the corners.

He can’t be labeled as one-dimensional, Smolenak often returns to his own zone to help out the defense, but is raw in this asset at this point. Smolenak is a decent skater with a solid lower-body strength and balance, but could use an extra gear which would help him to outskate the opposing players more effortlessly. His agility also hasn’t come all the way yet and it is an area which could see improvement from Smolenak.