Under-18 WJC: A look back at the Czech team

By Robert Neuhauser
The Under-18 WJC is over and the young Czechs have finally won that elusive medal after an
eight-year drought. The exceptionally strong 1984 birthyear broke the slump and arrived home with the
bronze medals. On this team there were really strong individualities who are very likely
to have a bright NHL career. But there were the role players, who didn’t score highlightable
goals, but without their presence the medal success wouldn’t be possible. Let’s have a look
at a short recap of every player’s performance!


Lukas Mensator
One of the key performers of the Czech team. Lukas Mensator was the poise and confidence
in person. His stellar performance between the pipes helped the Czechs steal some games,
especially the match against USA. The diminutive whiz with exceptional coverage helped the
team with key saves when it was needed and after posting a 1,57 GAA and a .9466 save
percentage was a deserving member of the all-star team and the winner of the Best goaltender

Lukas Musil
The backup of Lukas Mensator saw action in the second game of the tournament, against Norway.
He had an average showing, recording a 4,00 GAA and a .8000 save percentage. He was filling
the duties of a backup goaltender and was ready to replace Mensator if needed. He was useful
in practices, but didn’t get the chance to prove that also he can lead the team to victory,
Mensator was the clear starter.


Ondrej Nemec
As expected, the offensive Vsetin defenseman anchored the Czech defense. Even if he isn’t
blessed with tremendous size, Nemec was excellent positionally and showed a very smart
two-way game, recording seven points. He was the leading scorer among Czech defensemen and displayed a terrific
outlet passing ability. Defensively also almost perfect, Ondrej needs only a better skating
ability to become an all-round defenseman. Will challenge for an early second round pick.

Michal Barinka
Michal saw his stock sky-rocket after the great Under-18 WJC showing. He added the very needed
scoring punch from the blue line and also scored the game-winner against USA. He knew
when to rush the puck and when to dish it off. Michal also used his size well to keep the
opponents on distance. His huge support of offense led to to some slight defensive mistakes,
but there weren’t any glaring ones. Overall a great showing, Michal has moved into late-first
or early second consideration.

Ctirad Ovcacik
The Vitkovice defenseman tried to avoid any mistakes in his game and keep it simply. He was
used mostly on the third line and made use of his very good mobility and anticipation of
plays. He didn’t contribute offensively a lot but when Ovcacik was on the ice, no goal
was scored against the Czechs. He had a solid showing and helped to boost his stock for the
2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Jiri Hunkes
Jiri had an average Under-18 WJC performance. He tried to show a two-play play and was
able to record two assists. Jiri could use a better reading of plays but on the defensive
side he was quite solid. Nothing spectacular, but only a few mistakes. On the other side, at
-2 he was the second-worst Czech player in this cathegory after Michal Barinka. Probably
won’t hear his name selected at the June’s NHL Entry Draft.

Marek Chvatal
On a pair with Ondrej Nemec Marek Chvatal was the more defensive one, even if he has a
very good offensive upside. The only thing Marek lacks is size, but he could outplay the
opposition with his smarts and stickhandling ability. He notched just one assist, which
is quite a disappointment, but also won the Czech +/-. At +9 there was no better Czech player
than Marek Chvatal in this ranking. On the defensive side very good, on the offensive side

Martin Cizek
Big, tenacious stay-at-home defenseman Martin Cizek played a good tournament, where he was
concentrating on the defensive duties and left the offense to rushers. He controlled the
defensive zone with his reading of plays and solid portion of toughness. Cizek was very
responsible defensively and mistake-free. But also his lack of offensive contribution
pushed his overall showing to slightly above-average. Still has good chances on being
picked around the late second or third round.

Tomas Kolafa
Tomas was banned from the last game against Finland after taking part in the fight after
the end of the game against USA. He was one of the team’s grinders, he was working very
hard for the team’s success and kept his game simple. He didn’t make any finesse plays with
the puck, he just filled his defensive duties and tried to hit the opponents quite often.
He had an average tournament and his draft chances are still quite low.


Jiri Hudler
The dazzling puckhandler Jiri Hudler was oozing talent also at the Under-18 WJC. The Czech
captain was the true spirited leader of the team and had as usual a great showing. His
smarts were outstanding and he could score as well as pass. He was selected to the all-star
team for his 14-point effort (7 goals and 7 assists). He also led the Czechs in shots on
goal with 29. Hudler was amazing, the only little thing is his low percentage of faceoffs
won (42%).

Jakub Klepis
Portland Winterhawks’ shifty rookie proved his outstanding passing abilities also at the
Under-18 WJC. He was setting up chances for Hudler and Michalek with his tremendous vision
and anticipation of plays. Klepis notched 8 assists and added one goal for a total of 9 points.
By far the best passer on the team, Jakub created great scoring chances and was also very
useful in the faceoff circle. Klepis has moved into first round consideration and will be
a steal in the second round.

Milan Michalek
Big, smart, skilled and feisty. Simply Milan Michalek. Michalek has established himself as
the ultimate sniper at the WJC with his 7 goals and only 1 assist. Even then he is more of
a playmaker than a huge scorer. Michalek was shooting from everywhere, drove hard to the net
and still contributed defensively. He also threw some hard hits and had a great showing overall.
Milan will challenge for the first overall pick next year and this tournament definitely
didn’t hurt his chances.

Kamil Kreps
The Brampton Battalion forward was off to a slow start at the Under-18 WJC but his showing
became better and better every game. He had trouble with finding the net first but at the
end he was able to score 3 goals. Kreps displayed his soft hands and slick skating, but
had a tournament of ups and downs. Overall, slightly above average. Isn’t eligible until
the 2003, so don’t expect any huge fall or rise in the rankings after this tournament.

Roman Vondracek
The diminutive forward looked a bit lost on the wing in the first games before coach Kopriva
switched him to center again. There he found his game soon, displaying his swift skating and
deceptive puckhandling skills. Vondracek was one of the team’s leaders with spirited
performance and had a very solid tournament. His draft year is 2003 and thanks to his lack
of size his chances remain uncertain.

Tomas Csabi
Hulking Vitkovice winger opened the eyes of many at the Under-18 WJC and quickly earned a
reputation of a serious 2003 prospect. He used his frame well, fought for the pucks and
was patroling in front of the opposing net. Csabi was able to score important goals and
also contributed defensively. The very accurate sniper is probably the biggest Czech
revelation of the Under-18 WJC and his stock is rising.

Jan Kubista
Was off to a very hot start after recordind three points in the first game but then leaned
more towards a defensive forward role. His offensive output seemed to vanish but the lesser
his productivity was the bigger was his importancy on the backcheck. Kubista played a smart
two-way game and didn’t hurt his reputation as a coveted 2002 prospect, even if he
finished with those three points.

Jakub Koreis
Jakub battled ankle problems during the tournament which held him back a bit. He was very
useful in the faceoff circle and was trying to play an all-round game. He was such a threat
in the offensive zone as usual but still showed his strong playmaking and a willingness
to devote everything to the team’s win. Jakub also wasn’t afraid of throwing hard checks
and contributed defensively. Had an average tournament thanks to his limited offensive output.

Jakub Langhammer
Was slotted to play defense in one game and his versatility was his biggest plus at the
tournament. Langhammer was playing purely as a defensive forward and was quite succesfull
in that role as he took many pucks away from the oppsoing players. But his lack of offensive
contribution was glaring as he recorded only two shots on goal during the whole tournament.
However, one of the shots ended in the net. But Langhammer is a forward so this showing
can be called as average at best.

Tomas Fleischmann
The flashy winger displayed his typical game full of quickness, agility and strong puckhandling.
Fleischmann was exploding when he had the puck on his tape and tried to create quality
chances. He also was firing the pucks quite often. Wasn’t very defensive but there were
other players on the team to provide the defensive duties. Fleischmann is a riser and
could slip into one of the later rounds of the draft also thanks to his very solid Under-18
WJC performance.

Lukas Pabiska
The gritty forward from Liberec presented all his skills at the Under-18 WJC. He devoted
everything to the team’s success and played a smart two-way game. He tried to be creative
with the puck and distribute it effectively. He also found the net two times and added a
solid portion of grit and defensive awareness to his showing. Pabiska performed better than
expected and even if he had some weaker points, still a good tournament for him.

Jan Velich
The team’s biggest grinder and one of the most hardworking players. A versatile player,
Velich played the whole tournament at forward, but was concentrating mostly on defense. There
he used his size and a natural ability to perform as a defensive forward. Velich was the
only Czech forward not to record any single point, which downgraded his showing a bit,
but was well-used in situations where a grinder was needed. Overall an average performance.

Roman Bilek
Was partially invisible during the Under-18 WJC. Roman Bilek scored one goal but was
often eliminated by the opposing defensemen. He has a great stickhandling ability, but he
wasn’t a huge force on the team. He scored one goal from the four shots he fired during the
tournament, but wasn’t very effective in the defensive part of the game. With more intensity
his showing could have been better, but this was a sub-par tournament for him.