Czech 2004 prospects: Roman Psurny

By Robert Neuhauser

Brothers playing hockey are quite a common thing. But twins who can turn heads with their play can’t be found so easily. If they are, they usually draw attention. Czech hockey didn’t have talented twins like the Psurny’s for a long time. Even if they probably aren’t on the top of the NHL teams’ draft lists, they both are very good players. This is the story of Roman Psurny.

As a son of a former hockey player, Roman Psurny was brought to hockey along with his twin brother Michal by their father Radek Psurny. The elder Psurny played forward at the second highest level in the Czech Republic, spending time with Olomouc and Vsetin teams. When he turned 30, he decided that it is time to call it a career and guide his two sons with their game.

Roman Psurny laced up the skates for the first time when he was just four years old. He competed with his brother and made use of all the tips given to him by his father. The twins were soon good enough to enter the entry level team in their native city Uherske Hradiste, Czech Republic. But besides attending hockey practices the twins also started to play soccer, so that they weren’t one-dimensional athletes.

Roman spent two years with learning the first letters of the hockey alphabet, proving that he is a quick study. He was slotted to play the forward position and that suited him well. Psurny developed a smooth stride and this asset helped a lot in the youngest categories. When he was six years old, he began to play already for the 3rd grade team of Uherske Hradiste, the team which was coached by his father.

Roman Psurny formed a great combo with his twin brother Michal and Martin Kotacka, who skates at the Div I junior level in Uhersky Brod these days. This line provided a huge portion of the offensive output of the team and one of the members usually took home at least one individual trophy from every tournament they participated. Roman Psurny never turned heads with intense toughness, but made up for it with his slick skill. He could outskate and outsmart the opponents, which guaranteed him the front lines in the scoring chart of his respective age category.

He is a fan of the Detroit Red Wings and admires the play of Anaheim Mighty Ducks star forward Sergei Fedorov and tries to pattern his game after him. Just like his brother, Roman Psurny displays a superb attitude and his humble nature is welcomed by the coaches. In the 4th grade Psurny stopped playing soccer in order to have more time for proper on and off-ice hockey practices. This decision paid off as Psurny didn’t find equal competition against players of his age and along with his brother performed usually in the one year older category. His father coached him for four years and after that Roman also recorded solid seasons for the 7th grade team under head coach Mojmir Necas and for the 8th grade under head coach Lubos Jenacek, a former senior Extraleague player.

The Psurny twins slid into the spotlight in their region and were penciled by some Extraleague teams as potential boosts. Finally the nearby Zlin team succeeded in the chase for the two talented forwards and they both joined the 8th grade team of Zlin prior to the 1999-2000 season. Playing with more skilled teammates helped Roman’s development as he was always motivated to show that he can withstand this level of competition.

He burst out of the gate for the 9th grade team of Zlin under head coach Zdenek Svoboda. Albeit having his season shortened with a broken hand he suffered at Christmastime, Roman Psurny posted the highest point-per-game average from all the players competing at the 9th grade level in 2000-2001. In 27 games Psurny recorded 79 points for 38 goals and 41 assists, proving that he is ready for the leap to the midget Extraleague in the next season. The broken hand prevented Roman Psurny from participating at a 9th grade teams Christmas tournament in Sweden, but he could bounce back at the evaluation camp of the Czech Under-16 team. Psurny’s finesse moves earned him the best forward trophy and an invitation to the international stage for the next season.

Coached by head coach Jaroslav Stuchlik, Zlin midgets iced a very talented squad in 2001-2002, with the likes of Marek Zagrapan, Tomas Sturala or Jiri Paska on the team, supported by high-flying Psurny twins. Even if playing his rookie midget Extraleague season, Roman Psurny was able to average more than a point per game. He was consistency in person as he adjusted to the midget level pace without any trouble and contributed regularly to the offensive output of the team. Roman Psurny didn’t rely just on his finesse, he also made clear that he will punish the opponents who try to manhandle him, even if he isn’t a tough hitter. Finally the prospect-stocked Zlin midgets squared off against Trinec in the midget Extraleague finals and unfortunately lost 2:0 in the best-of-three series. Psurny stil recalls the silver medals one of the biggest successes of his career. Roman Psurny played in 48 midget games in 2001-2002, registering 61 points for 22 goals and 39 assists, a whooping +/- of +31 and 63 PIMs.

Quite surprisingly, Roman appeared in just one international tournament of the Under-16 team schedule. He performed in a three-game series against the Under-16 team of Slovakia, played in Sumperk, Czech Republic. In three games there he notched 2 points for 2 assists, an even +/- and no PIMs.

The next season, 2002-2003, was Roman Psurny along with his brother asked to pick up where he left the last season and guide the Zlin midgets to another championship run. After Slovak Marek Zagrapan got promoted to the junior team was Roman even awarded with the captain’s role. Psurny was unstoppable on a line with his brother Michal and fellow 2004 prospect Stanislav Balan, quickly earning a promotion to the junior team, too. Roman Psurny skated 29 games with the midget team, scoring 52 points for 20 goals and 32 points, an even +/- and 36 PIMs.

But now he had to prove himself at the junior level. Zlin juniors head coach Stanislav Prikryl kept the combo of Roman and Michal Psurny together and that helped Roman to have a smoother transition to the junior Extraleague as an underager. He could take on the junior-aged defensemen thanks to his slippery moves and established himself as more of a playmaker. In 25 junior games Psurny amassed 16 points for 4 goals and 12 assists along with 6 PIMs.

No wonder that he became one of the key players of the Czech Under-17 team. Roman Psurny played the complete schedule of the Under-17 team in 2002-2003, including the season’s top event, the European Youth Olympic Days in Bled, Slovenia. Psurny scored a goal at the Four Nations Tournament, played in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at Christmas. He also entered the scoresheet with one goal at the Four Nations Tournament, played in Podolsk, Russia, this past February. Psurny registered a very successful three-game series against the Under-17 team of Swizerland, played in Lenzerheide, Swizterland this past April with three goals and was nearly as impressive at the last event of the international season, a three-game series against the Under-17 team of Germany. There found Psurny the net two times.

Roman Psurny is a slick skater with solid quickness and acceleration. He could only use more balance in his play. A smooth puckhandler, Psurny sees the ice very well and is capable of smart, well-timed passes. He is an opportunistic goalscorer and possesses solid finishing skills. His wrist shots are fired with strong accuracy and a fast release. He needs to further develop his slap shot, which is quite accurate, but not very hard. Psurny won’t hurt you defensively, he made strides in getting rid of the ‘one-dimensional’ label and is showing a bigger commitment to the defensive side of his game now. The biggest obstacle for him on the way to a coveted NHL prospect is his skinny frame. At 6’0,5”, 172 lbs., Psurny is no physical menace and doesn’t like playing in heavy traffic. A fond of open ice, where his excellent skills rule, Roman Psurny has to add 20 pounds of muscle if he wants to think of a NHL career. He could be a late-rounder in 2004 thanks to his strong offense, but at this point a career in Europe seems to be more likely.

Roman Psurny is off to a hot start in the 2003-2004 edition of the junior Extraleague. Always with his favorite number 96 on his back, Psurny scores at a steady pace, recording 14 points for 5 goals and 9 assists in 13 games so far, along with a +/- of +14 and 16 PIMs. But more importantly, he broke into the senior Extraleague this month. He was benched for the first game, but has now made three appearances at the elite Czech senior level, going scoreless on the fourth line of the HC Hame Zlin team.

This past August was Roman Psurny a member of the Czech Under-18 team at the World Junior Cup, played in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In front of many NHL scouts Psurny pulled off a solid showing with more than a point-per-game average. Psurny contributed to the bronze-medal success with 6 points for 3 goals and 3 assists in 5 World Junior Cup games.

A bit of a superstitious player, Roman Psurny has a few things he does the same before each game. The most important is that he always puts on his gear from the right side first, hoping that it will bring him luck.

School takes the most from Psurny’s non-hockey time. His father emphasizes the need of proper education for Roman and his brother and they both attend a secondary school for sports in Zlin, this year is the third of their studies. When he isn’t studying, then Roman Psurny prefers to be active in his free time. He likes to go swimming, play tennis or squash. As a music fan, Psurny likes to listen to all the hits played on the radio with the preference of Czech pop music. Psurny is most happy with chicken, pasta or pizza for dinner.

Represented by agent Robert Spalenka, Roman Psurny doesn’t rush to North America. He wants to go on with his senior Extraleague career and hopefully fight out a regular spot on the senior team of Zlin. Psurny doesn’t consider coming over to play in the CHL and wants to take the European route.