For hockey fans across the globe, the preliminary round of the 2013 IIHF WJC has been just about everything anyone had ever hoped for. There’s been no lack of tension, rivalries, intrigue and background stories that have come together to make this tournament the type that fans everywhere crave.
A year ago in Alberta, the Czech Republic's U-20 national team was one of the surprises at the 2012 World Junior Championship. After stunning the United States in the preliminary round, the team took on Russia, surviving until overtime when the silver medal squad scored a controversial goal to defeat the Czechs. Besides the team success, Detroit Red Wings goalie prospect Petr Mrázek gained a lot of fans for his celebrations late in the game against the Americans.
Two years ago, little was known about Tomáš Hertl, then a 16-year-old center for the junior team of Slavia Prague. That season, he played mostly in the Czech U-20 Extraliga, posting better numbers than Radek Faksa, who was, however, drafted at a higher place at the 2012 NHL Draft. The same year, Hertl had his Czech Extraliga debut, not collecting any points, but at the age of sixteen, surely letting the hockey world notice his name.
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