HC Slavia Praha champions of the Czech Midget Extraleague

By Robert Neuhauser

Coming April, there is the final series of the Czech midget Extraleague on the schedule. The
playing scheme is the same as in the junior Extraleague and the playoff games in both leagues
are played the same day. Like in juniors, the regular season consists of 38 games. The 20 teams
are divided into two Groups, called A and B. Group A is for the teams from the western cities
of the Czech Republic and Group B for the eastern ones. During the regular season every team
meets opponents only from their own group. The top 6 teams in every group create then two
Final groups. During the Final group teams meet opponenets only from the other Final group
and play them twice – home and away. Once the Final group games are finished, the top four
teams from every Final group create four quartefinal pairs and from then now it is a regular
playoff, with quarterfinal and semifinal series and the championship series.

In the midget league players with birthyear 1984 or younger are eligible to play this season
and the teams consist mostly of 1984 and 1985 born players. Top 1986 prospects play in the
league too, even if they still can play for Grade 9. But it is only a few of them, most of the
1986 born split this season between the midgets and Grade 9.
This year HC Ocelari Trinec and HC Slavia Praha fought their way into the finals. Trinec captain
Rostislav Sabela acquired presents from the general sponsor Nutella for the regular season’s
best team and so Trinec was said to be a slightly better team than Slavia. But the players on
the roster of Slavia won the chmpionship title for the Grade 9 kids the previous season and
they also knew how to win important battles. Trinec bulit up their success on grit, while
Slavia posesses more natural talented players. Their team is full of prospects almost on every
position. Goalie Lukas Musil backstopped the Czech Under-17 team at the World Hockey Challenge
this season and could develop into a very solid goalie. Two gems shine on defense – postionally
very sound Martin Cizek played most of the season already for the junior team of Slavia and
Jiri Drtina seems to be one of the top 2003 prospects as he played almost the entire season
with the Under-17 team as a 1985 born. Jakub Klepis, a forward for the Under-17 team was
one of the best forwards on the team, he also spent some time with the juniors of Slavia, David
Svagrovsky was the champion in team scoring during the regular season and two sons of former
National team players could develop into solid prospects. Tomas Jelinek skated the 1992-93
season for the Ottawa Senators and his son, Petr, was one of the leading personalities of the
team. But the other one is a bright prospect. Just 1986 born, Jakub Sindel, son of the former
National team goalie Jaromir Sindel, fought his way into the Under-16 team this season and
is even at this age one of the best players of Slavia!
Trinec also posesses a star in the net – Roman Kousal shared the goaltending duties with Lukas
Musil on some tournaments of the Under-17 team and is a very good goalie with solid reflexes.
Trinec has their top prospect on defense, Marek Chvatal played almost the entire season for
the juniors of Trinec and could be drafted in 2002. Among other solid players on the defense
are Milan Bendik or tough hard-hitting defenseman Marek Brudny. Rostislav Sabela and Jiri Ripa,
originally a player from Jihlava, are the top on offense. Sabela, the captain, and Ripa,
alternate captain, play on a line together and combined for a lot of goals during the
regular season. The other players like Daniel Brynecky or Jiri Kosecky also earn a deserving
lot of playing time, but aren’t as good as Sabela and Ripa. However, Sabela wasn’t such a big
leading personality on the ice during the playoffs, he finished with just three points in
8 games. But 1986 born youngster Jan Danecek broke out during the playoffs and with almost a
point pro game he surely earned his spot on the next year’s roster.

The first game was played in Trinec and it was almost a clear thing. Trinec midgets outplayed
the Slavians with their grit and good positional play all over the ice, they tried to keep
it simple and it payed dividends. Jiri Ripa scored the first goal, which turned out to be
the game winner when Trinec defeated the Slavia midgets 5:0. Michal Ninik showed a nice play
with his goal on 3:0, he got the puck in the zone of Slavia, splitted the defense and fired
the puck behind the back of Musil while stumbling over a defenseman’s foot. Ninik then
celebrated the goal on his knees. But the whole Slavia team could be on their knees if they
wouldn’t win the following game, the midget and junior playoff series are best of three.
Roman Kousal recorded a shoutout and only began his stellar play in the finals. In this game
the hilight was as he stopped Jakub Klepis on a breakaway with his pads.

The series moved on to the capital city and it was David Svagrovsky’s game. The speedy
forward showed his creativity and has beaten Trinec in the second game almost alone with his
hattrick. Lukas Musil displayed some key saves during his way to the shoutout and he and
Svagrovsky’s great effort in this game kept Slavia alive. Slavia won 3:0, Svagrovsky scored
all the goals and the third game had to decide.
Trinec tried to grab the title in front of the home crowd, but it turned out to be a
defensive game. Trinec had a good chance to take the lead, but the players were unable to
make use of the powerplay. Also during the second period Trinec was very dangerous and Lukas
Musil had to show why he is one of the best 1984 born goalies. Trinec kept a steedy pressure
and had good powerplay chances, but Slavia was also eager to win. On a shorthanded situation
Petr Jelinek scored a goal, but the goal was out of position and even if he tried hard, he
didn’t change the referees mind. The official saw the situation correctly, the goal was
really out of position when Jelinek has shot the puck in it.
Jiri Ripa of Trinec had also a great chance on a shorthaned situation but failed to score
on a breakaway. So Slavia team wanted to play just like the old proverb says: If you
won’t score, the opposing team will. With 8 minutes to go Jakub Klepis grabbed the puck in
his own zone, showed a very fast acceleration and finally fired a slap shot on Kousal from
the right faceoff circle. Kousal was unable to hold the shot and the puck slowly went into the net.
But he couldn’ reach the net if youngster Jakub Sindel didn’t chip him in. Sindel was fouled
by a defenseman while doing this and he brought the puck into the net along with his body.
That was the deciding moment, even if Trinec pulled Kousal, who posted a great .953 save
percentage during the final series, they failed to score.
So Slavia won the title and celebrated with the trophy for the champion. The more talented
team won, but the series was very tight and it was a real playoff battle, decided by one
goal. The team who had more luck was the winner!

Top playoff scorers Slavia Praha

Games Goals Assists Points
1. Jakub Klepis   7     1    7        8
2. David Svagrovsky 7   5    1        6
3. Filip Morava   7     4    2        6
4. Martin Cizek   7     2    3        5
5. Petr Jelinek   7     1    2        3

Top playoff scorers Trinec
                     Games Goals Assists Points
1. Patrik Stejskal      8    3     5       8
2. Jan Danecek          8    4     3       7
3. Jiri Hunkes          8    2     3       5
4. Jiri Kosecky         8    2     2       4
5. Tomislav Grozaj      8    3     0       3