Photo: Sudbury Wolves forward Dominik Kubalik is looking to help his home country, the Czech Republic, make some noise at the 2013 U18 WJC (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The Czech Republic has failed to medal since being promoted to the elite division in 2008. In the last two years at the U18, they had to fight to avoid relegation both times, but now it finally looks as if they have a real chance to get past the preliminary round and compete against the strongest of the participants.
Photo: Chomutov Jr. forward David Kämpf is currently ranked 95th among international skaters by the NHL's Central Scouting (courtesy of Luboš Lang/Czech Ice Hockey Association)
Junior hockey season in the Czech Republic is already entering into its second phase, with teams in the Under-20 and Under-18 category going all in to salvage their hopes of winning their respective Extraligas. Most of the Czech-based players eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft play in the U-20 Extraliga that has now, in late January, reached the end of its regular season.
Photo: The 2013 draft class for the Czech Republic isn't deep, but one player whose name could be called is Třinec defender Alex Pisarik (courtesy of Luboš Lang/Czech Ice Hockey Association)
At last year's NHL Draft, Canadian and American defensemen took over a large part of the first round. Seven of them were selected among the top ten of the draft, an indication that the 2012 North American defensive class was simply exceptional.
Photo: The father of Ceske Budejovice forward Lubos Rob, Jr. was drafted by the New York Rangers in the fifth round of the 1990 NHL Draft (courtesy of Ceske Budejovice)
After an impressive performance at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, which the Czech Republic co-hosted alongside Slovakia, the Czech U-18 national team is off to a successful season. Not only did they manage to play tight games with elite countries back in August, their perfect team play also caused Russia to lose one of three friendly games the two countries played in mid-December.
Photo: Moncton Wildcats forward and St. Louis Blues draft pick Dmitri Jaskin built on his strong showing in the QMJHL this season to turn in an equally strong showing for his country at the 2013 WJC (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
As was the case a year ago at the World Junior Championship in Alberta, the Czech Republic's Under-20 national team once again advanced from the group stage and, this time alongside Switzerland, created an upset for another big hockey country.