2014 WJC Preview: Faksa leads Czech roster featuring cast of relative unknowns

by Radoslav Vavrina
on

Radek Faksa - Kitchener Rangers

Photo: Kitchener Rangers forward and Dallas Stars prospect Radek Faksa is the most established player on a Czech Republic WJC squad that features mostly younger or unheralded talent (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

The 2014 World Junior Championship is set to begin Thursday in Malmö, Sweden with the Czech Republic squad looking to surprise some observers. The Czechs performed well last year in Ufa, Russia, beating Latvia, Switzerland and Finland before being eliminated by the United States in the quarterfinals following a 7-0 victory for the Americans. The Czechs ended last year's WJC in fifth place, but may be hard pressed to equal that accomplishment this year.

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Tigers’ goaltender Langhamer preparing to compete at 2014 WJC

by Radoslav Vavrina
on

Marek Langhamer - Medicine Hat Tigers

Photo: Medicine Hat Tigers goaltender and Phoenix Coyotes prospect Marek Langhamer is currently ranked 6th in the WHL with a goals-against average of 2.45 in 15 games (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Just like all other participants at the 2014 Under-20 World Junior Championship, Team Czech Republic is amid its preparation for the annual pinnacle of the junior hockey season that is this time being held in the Swedish city of Malmö.

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Kase hoping to display skills at U20 World Juniors

by Radoslav Vavrina
on

Ondrej Kase - HC Chomutov

Photo: Chomutov Pirates forward and 2014 prospect Ondrej Kase is hoping to be a part of the Czech Republic’s team that will be taking part in the 2014 World Junior Championship later this month (courtesy of HC Chomutov)

It looks like it could be a solid draft year for the Czech Republic in 2014 with David Pastrňák and Jakub Vrána, two upper round candidates based in Sweden, and many more potential later round prospects playing either in Sweden, Canada or in their homeland. Thanks to a new rule implemented by the Czech Ice Hockey Association, prospects are also getting much more ice-time in the Extraliga than in recent years.

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Pastrnak making his mark in Sweden’s Allsvenskan

by Radoslav Vavrina
on

David Pastrnak - Sodertalje

Photo: Sodertalje forward and 2014 prospect David Pastrnak is currently tied for the team scoring lead with six goals and nine assists in 24 games (courtesy of HC Trinec)

Unable to create many opportunities for young players, Czech youth hockey is slowly losing influence. The system has been collapsing, with the main problems being economics and training methods. It's no wonder that talented Czech players try their luck abroad, not just in Canada or the United States, but also in Sweden, a country that has recently produced loads of big-time NHL prospects.

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Hertl stands alone atop Calder Poll for November

by Tony Piscotta
on

Tomas Hertl - San Jose Sharks

Photo: San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl turned in another solid month in November to earn the top spot in HF’s ranking of the top NHL rookies (courtesy of Rocky Widner/Getty Image)

The Hockey's Future Calder Trophy poll for November reflected the depth of the 2013-14 rookie class as 22 players received votes from members of the staff. This month's Top 10 was impacted by several early season call-ups who have emerged while a handful of players who opened the season with a bang but then cooled off are no longer in this month's Top 10 (actually eleven since there was a tie for the 10th spot).

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