Slovakia August Update

By Daniel Kysel


Training Camp of Dream team

In the end of July, national head coach Jan Filc called a “small” training camp of players considered as nominees for national team on Olympic games 2002 in Sault Lake City. He invited around 50 players playing in the NHL, AHL, IHL and in the European leagues. Only four of invited players apologized their absence – Svehla, Droppa, Vaic and Hlinka. Other players took part on this camp. The climax of this camp was exhibition game “America” versus “Europe”, which was playing in August 4th in Bratislava. It was amazing game for Slovak fans to see Demitra, Satan, Palffy, Stumpel, Bondra, Handzus, Hossa, Bartecko, Chara, Suchy etc. on “American” team and Sekeras, Visnovsky, Ciger, Pardavy, Bartos, etc. on team “Europe”. America won that game 12 : 7 when Satan (3 + 2) and Bondra (2 + 3) on one side and Pardavy (3 + 0) on the other one, were scoring stars. It was a great show for all hockey fans. By the way the best skater in speed competition was Lubo Visnovsky followed by Peter Bartos, Jaro Obsut and Peter Bondra.

Crystal Cup

Three Slovak and three Czech Elite teams competed for Crystal Cup in Trencin. This tournament was held August 17 through 19 in Trencin. The best three Slovak teams – Slovan Bratislava (champion), HKM Zvolen (vice-champion) and Trencin (third best team of Extraliga) could compete with Czech vice-champion Slovnaft Vsetin, playoff semi-finalist Ocelari Tricec and second best team of regular season – HC Barum Zlin. Czech team Trinec vindicated its last year victory. Zvolen was second, followed by Slovan.
If we are speaking about prospects, Slovan did not have any juniors on its roster. However several youngsters played on that team – Marek Priechodsky (1979) is Tampa Bay’s 7th round selection, Michal Hudec (79) – returned from USHL, Jozef Mrena (80) – returned from WHL and Adrian Daniel (79) returned form AWHL. All of them played solid games but nobody surprised.

Zvolen is rich team which buys ready players from other teams. Their roster includes youngsters very rarely. Only two of them – Matus Kostur (80) – New Jersey’s 5th round pick and Miro Liptak (79) took part on other tournament in the Olympic team.

Trencin was always very open for junior players on senior team. Some kids could prove their talents this year as well. Forwards – Jozef Liska (80), Marian Kukumberg (80) and Lubo Goga (79) though without Extraliga’s experiences may be regular players. Peter Fabus (79) Phoenix’ 9th round pick proved he will be the key player of his team. The most grateful surprise was Tomas Starosta (81). This 19 year old defenseman was pretty good in defense as well as in offense. Other notable youngsters – Martin Cakajik (79) and Miro Kovacik (78).

Standings: Trinec – 5 pts, Zvolen – 4 pts, Slovan – 3 pts, Trencin – 2 pts, Zlin – 2 pts, Vsetin – 2 pts.

Best players of tournament:

Goalie – Igor Murin (Trencin)

Defenseman – Zbynek Cech (Zlin)

Forward – Brano Janos (Trinec)

Scorers – Brano Janos and Peter Barinka (Trencin) both 3 goals

53rd Tatransky pohar (Tatras Cup)
Is the second oldest tournament in Europe. This year the following teams competed for this cup: MHK Zilina, French national team, Slovak Olympic team and hosting team – SKP Poprad.

Although Zilina will play only Division 1 in next season this team is ready to win the league and play on Extraliga in the season 2001-02. Its roster is very strong and nobody doubts of its ambition. All players except 5 of them have experiences with Extraliga. Many of them played more than 100 games in Elite league.

Olympic team was composed of players born in years 1978-80 however players from Slovan, Trencin and Poprad were omitted cause they played on their mother’s teams. French team was only 3 days on the ice before this tournament and that is why this team was the worst one.

Though Poprad has financial troubles its roster is really very strong with unusual number of young players. Tomas Surovy (81) is scoring machine, Marek Kolba (80), Laco Harabin (80), Jaro Jabrocky (80), Roman Tomas (80), Lukas Hvila (81), Robert Blasko (80) – all are very gifted kids.

The best players of Slovak Olympic team were both goalies – Washington’s prospect Rasto Stana (80) and Matus Kostur (80), two d-men – Nashville’s 6th round pick Tomas Harant (80) and Jan Homer (80), and two forwards Rene Skoliak (79) and Martin Trochta (79).

Standings: Poprad – 5 pts, Slovak Olympic team – 4 pts, Zilina – 3 pts, France – 0 pts.

Best players of tournament:

Goalie – Miro Simonovic (Poprad)

Defenseman – Juraj Kledrowetz (Poprad)

Forward – Michal Beran (Zilina)

Scorer – Martin Kulha (Poprad) – 4 goals

NHL news
Two players with NHL experiences decided to play in Europe. Vlado Orszagh – N.Y.Islanders but mostly on its farm teams, signed with Swedish team Djurgarden IF. Lubo Vaic – Vancouver but mostly on Syracuse, signed with German team Eisbaren Berlin. Both guys will be UFA after next season and expect to come to terms with any NHL teams then.

Robert Petrovicky was traded from Tampa Bay to N.Y.Islanders and hopes to be finally regular player of his new team. Rado Suchy signed 3 year one-way contract with Phoenix.

Veteran Lubo Sekeras signed 2 year one-way contract with Minnesota. Marian Gaborik, Peter Bartos, Lubo Visnovsky and Peter Podhradsky signed two-way contracts with their NHL teams.

Peter BartošLubomír Sekeráš

Extraliga’s bleeding

While many people think Slovak Extraliga was too weak in past season, I do not think so. Our league could not be compared with Czech, Swedish or Finnish ones but was not bad. However the next season may be much worse. After each season a lot of players leave Slovak leagues and go to better and more lucrative leagues. But this summer time was too strong bleeding.

Look at this list:
Richard Kapus, Jan Lipiansky, Robert Tomik, Anton Lezo, Richard Pavlikovsky, Michal Barto, Jan Pleva, Laco Cierny, Rado Somik, Jozef Voskar arrived to Czech Elite pastures from Slovakia. Other two Slovaks arrived from other leagues – Jan Kobezda and Miro Hlinka. By the way other 14 Slovaks are signed by Czech teams from last seasons. You can feel sure of the fact this list is not closed and be completed by other players.

Rado Kropac, Dusan Andrasovsky and Ivan Majesky moved to SM-Liiga (Finnish Elite). Vlasto Plavucha will play on Swiss Elite.

Vlasto Plavucha

Miro Skovira to Italian Elite, Lubo Rybovic, Miro Mosnar and Matej Bukna to British Elite. Many others (Rusznyak, Gyori, Chrenko, Mastic, Slamiar, Zubek etc.) to Czech and German Division 1 and 2 teams or to Elite teams of France, Poland, Norway etc. Do not forget for Gaborik, Visnovsky and Podhradsky who left to North America. Almost all of above players were leaders on their teams. Who can replace such players? Juniors? Maybe but it is not enough.

Patchy verdict

Slovak Ice Hockey Federation leaders decided to limit a presence of players who play abroad, on national junior
teams. It means that national team under 20 may include only 4 players from CHL (or any other foreign league). National teams under 18 and 17 must not have any player who does not play in the Slovak leagues. I do not think it was good idea how to solve the outgoing of too many juniors to North America. Head coaches of national junior teams are more unhappy than me.