Czech Republic at Viking Cup

By Robert Neuhauser
The Viking Cup is a traditional tournament of the European Under-18 teams, who square off against
the Canadian university teams or Junior A leagues selection teams. Just like every year,
the Czech Under-18 team takes part in this tournament. The young Czech travelled overseas
already in mid-December, before the Viking Cup tournament they played five exhibition games.
All of them turned out to be wins of the Czech team and so they could feel ready for the
main tourney. That didn’t turn out to be a huge success, the Czechs recorded just one win
in the regular group games and in the quarterfinals they were beaten by the AJHL Junior A
Selects. Bright individualities on the Czech roster were on display again, mostly goalie
Lukas Mensator, defensemen Martin Cizek and Tomas Linhart and forwards Jakub Koreis, Jan
Kubista and Jakub Langhammer. All of them gave their best to the team and could be in the
spotlight also against those older opponents. So let’s have a look how the games were!

Czech Republic – Augustana Vikings 1:5

After the five relatively easy wins in the exhibition games the young
Czechs faced the first Viking Cup opponent. The Augustana University
Vikings team had lots of older players on the roster, some already
reaching their prime at 27. The Czechs had trouble with dealing with
the faster pace of game than in the exhibition games plus they had
two days off before this match. Near the halfway mark of the first
period Lonnie Granley gave the lead to the Augustana team.
Even if Lukas Mensator had a very good showing this game, he couldn’t
do anything against against another goal, when Lonnie Letawsky received
a pass from Lonnie Granley and has beaten Mensator glove side. Chris Gonzalez
then even increased the lead with 6:51 to go in the second period
and about the result was almost decided. Two minutes after that
Jan Kubista scored a shorthanded marker as he chipped the loose
puck behind the back of Chad Rycroft in the Augustana’s net. But
that was it for the Czech team. After a powerplay goal by Trottier
and a shorthanded goal by Lonnie Letawsky the final score was set.
Lukas Mensator was replaced in the net by Lukas Musil, who saw his
first minutes in action at the Viking Cup due to this fact.

MJHL Junior A Selects – Czech Republic 9:3

Also in this game the Czech Under-18 team didn’t have a lucky
beginning. In the middle of the first period Oldcorn went for a lone
breakaway but was tripped and a penalty shot was awarded to the
MJHL team. Ross Oldcorn could beat Lukas Musil in the Czech net
to give the MJHL Selects the lead. The Czechs tied the game after
Lukas Pulpan made an outlet pass to Roman Bilek who found Tomas Csabi with
a pass. Csabi then deked Marc-Andre Leclerc to set the score at 1:1.
Exactly one minute after that Jamie Muswagon scored the first
powerplay goal when Justin Maier went with the puck behind the net and
found the free Muswagon in the slot.
Jan Herman was able to tie the game again at the beginning of the
second period, but quite dumb penalties have the Czechs cost a lot
of strength. Mike Ouellet scored another powerplay marker at 14:34,
at that time the score was already 5:2 and the Czechs had a very
tough task for the third period.
At 2:02 Josef Vavra gave the Czechs a hope, but an unprecendented
number of four unanswered powerplay goals by the MJHL Selects
decided about the result. The MJHL’s combined with ease in the
Czech zone on powerplays and were able to bring the Czechs out of
position. The Czechs had trouble with MJHL passes from behind the
net and there was always a MJHL player in the slot who could
receive the pass and score. So the result 9:3.

Czech Republic – Sweden 2:1

The Czechs were off Josef Vavra and Jiri Hunkes for this match,
because those two players received misconduct penalties in the
previous contests. For the first time at the Viking Cup the Czechs
grabbed the lead as Roman Vondracek scored after a pass from Jan
Kubista. Vondracek made a nice move to fool Swedish goalie Joakim
Lundstrom and give the Czechs the lead. In the first period and
also for the rest of the game both teams seemed equal and there
were chances at both sides.
With only 27 seconds played in the second stanza Jakub Koreis secured
the Czech lead. Tomas Linhart fed him with a pass and Koreis has
found a place where to fire the puck to beat Lundstrom.
The game became even more exciting as the Swedes finally brought
the puck behind Lukas Mensator’s back. Nicklas Eckerblom passed to Andreas Valdix,
who deked the Czech goalie and cut the Czech lead.
During the whole third period both goalies ruled and especially
Lukas Mensator had his hands full with the Swedish raids. This even
increased as the Swedes pulled Lundstrom. But then Jakub Koreis and
Jan Kubista raced for a breakaway on the empty net, Kubista fired
a wrister, but missed the net and the Swedes had immediately a
huge scoring chance on the other side. Also this time Mensator had
enough luck and so the Czechs won 2:1 and qualified themselves
for the Viking Cup playoffs.

Czech Republic – BCHL Junior A Selects 2:5

The Czechs had a slow start into the game, it looked like they can’t
cope with the pace of the game in the first period. The BCHL team
made use of it very soon and Leveille has beaten Stefan Zigardy in
the Czech net already in the second minute. The Czechs didn’t create
almost any single quality scoring chance in the first and their
opponent pressed hard. They have put Zigardy into a situation where
the pucks were flying on him from all positions. No wonder that
the Czechs were outshot 6-24 only in the first period! And Brent Shepheard
has even increased the BCHL lead with his goal in the 10th minute.
The second period was a period of powerplay goals. David Svagrovsky
scored twice as he made use of two consecutive powerplays. First
he tipped the puck behind Tyson Motz’s back after fast passes from
Roman Bilek and Jan Velich. The second was nearly the same situation
and Jan Velich with Tomas Linhart notched the assists. After that
the penalty box was constantly visited by at least one Czech player
which led to BCHL chances. Michel Leveille made use of Myles Kuharski’s pass
and deked Zigardy at 11:17 of the second to restore the BCHL lead.
Seven minutes after that Nathan Oystrick scored his unassisted
powerplay marker as he took advantage of a bad Czech clearing pass
and going into the third the Czechs were still trailing by two.
It was even worse as David Vandergulik increased the lead of the
BCHL team. With Lukas Pulpan in the penalty box for interference
Streich passed the puck to Jeff Tambellini who made a crosspass to
Vandergulik, who popped the puck in. The scorer Vandergulik wasn’t
obviously a fan of hulking Czech blueliner Ondrej Wantulok. In the
third period both received minors for roughing first, but after that
the two found themselves on the ice again and this time they
dropped the gloves. Gauthier of the BCHL team had also something
to say to the Czech defenseman and to avoid a Czech disadvantage,
Josef Vavra took on Vandergulik in another fight while Gauthier
squared off against the hated Wantulok. After receiving game
misconducts for fighting major it was played hockey again. The BCHL
team controlled the game and didn’t allow the Czech goalie Zigardy
any rest. Zigardy faced 51 shots in the game, but couldn’t avoid
the Czech loss.

Czech Republic – AJHL Junior A Selects 1:3

In the playoff match the Czechs faced the home Alberta team. The
first period was quite defensive and no team didn’t create any
huge scoring opportuinities. Both goalies, Lukas Mensator and
Craig Fagnan, played a solid game with good saves so the beginning
of the game didn’t bring lots of excitement to the crowd. The AJHL
team played two powerplays, first when Lukas Mensator fired the puck
into the audience and took a minor for delaying of game, the second
one when Jakub Koreis was in the penalty box for hooking.
In the second period the Czechs could score on their only powerplay
in the game and so grab the lead. After a play of Lukas Pulpan
and Jan Velich Roman Bilek found the puck in the mess in front
of Fagnan and chipped it in. The Czechs could controll the game
after that and not allow the AJHL players to tie the game till the
end of the second part of the game.
Maybe the Czechs were too calm and they thought that the contest
is over, but they looked a bit lazy at the beginning of the third.
The AJHL team noticed that and immediately turned the game over
with two lucky goals two minutes apart, scored by Taggart Desmet and
Justin Williams. This boosted the Czech opponent’s confidence a lot.
They began to fly on the ice and ruled the game soon. Plus, the
Czechs still took lots of penalties. Jakub Koreis went to the penalty
box two times more, first when he exchanged a pair of punches with
Mike Lefley and the second time for crosschecking. When Justin Williams
scored his second in the game after he grabbed the puck, went for
a breakaway and fired the puck behind Lukas Mensator, the Czechs
were totally down. They couldn’t do anything with the result and
so the Viking Cup turned out to be the quarterfinal exit.