International Ice Hockey Federation

A new Czech squad

A new Czech squad

Question marks make up roster

Published 24.12.2015 17:43 GMT+2 | Author Ty Dilello
A new Czech squad
Czech forward Michael Spacek lets a shot go during the 2015 World Junior Championship. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Although missing several top forwards, the Czechs are still looking for their first world junior medal since 2005.

One of the most interesting storylines at this year's World Juniors is how the Czechs will fare this year. After last year's 3-0 loss to rival Slovakia in the quarter-finals after finishing second in their pool, the Czechs are hungry this year to fight for a medal. In fact, the last time the Czechs even won a medal was all the way back in 2005 when they won the bronze in Grand Forks, USA.

The good old days of 2000 and 2001 where the Czech Republic won back-to-back World Junior titles is long but forgotten. This year's squad has potential, but it's going to take a lot of world-class performances to get the job done in Helsinki.

The Czechs offense has always been dynamite over the years, and this year's tournament is going to have to be no different if they hope to have any success. Although they will be missing forwards Jakub Vrana, Vaclav Karabacek and David Pastrnak, the Czechs have a couple of other big names that will likely bring in some scoring. The big one of course being Pavel Zacha, who wants to have a breakout World Juniors. The Czechs are going to be leaning heavily on the 6th overall draft pick of the New Jersey Devils at last summer's NHL draft.

Players like Simon Stransky, Michael Spacek, Filip Chlapik, Tomas Soustal, and Jiri Smejkal can also all put the puck in the net, so even though the Czechs will be missing a few of their top forwards, they should still be able to find scoring from their great offensive depth.

Michael Spacek is definitely going to be a player to watch for this tournament. Spacek is a 2015 draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets, and has been a point a game player so far in his first season in North America. He has 30 points in 30 games with the WHL's Red Deer Rebels. Spacek already has two seasons playing against men under his belt with HC Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga, so it should come as no shock if Spacek is one of the Czech's leading scorers.

Another one to watch for is 18-year-old Tomas Soustal. The centre is currently playing in his second season with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Last year, Soustal was a part of the Rockets squad that won the WHL Championship and got all the way to the Memorial Cup Final. Tomas scored Kelowna's lone goal in the Memorial Cup Final, a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker to the OHL champs Oshawa Generals. asked Michael Spacek and Tomas Soustal some questions.

How did you get into hockey and at what age?

Spacek: My dad took me to a game of hockey when I was a little kid, and the rest is history. I started playing when I was five years old.

Soustal: My dad brought me to the rink because he was a hockey player as well. I was three years old when I started skating.

How was it growing up in the Czech hockey system?

Spacek: HC Pardubice treated me really well. They gave me a lot of opportunity, and one day I would love to play there again.

Soustal: It was really good. I met some amazing people and made friendships that will last for a lifetime.

Describe your playing style.

Spacek: I am a skill player. I like to make plays and create opportunities for myself and others.

Soustal: I'm a power forward who likes to go to the net. I'm strong all over the ice, making good in the offensive zone. I should shoot more.

How are you enjoying your time playing in the WHL?

Spacek: It has been great so far in Canada. I'm learning lots and just enjoying my time here. Also, being drafted by Winnipeg was a huge honour and something that I have been dreaming of for a long time.

Soustal: It's awesome. Kelowna is the best place to be in the WHL. It's the best organization and city I think. Last year was amazing. We had a really good team and at the same time it was a great group of guys who never gave up and worked hard all season long.

Are you excited by the chance of representing your country at the World Juniors?

Spacek: Yes I am very excited! It’s a huge honour to wear that jersey and hopefully we can do lots of good things as a team.

Soustal: Yes, I am super excited to go to camp and hopefully throw that Czech jersey on once again.

What are some of the goals you and your team hope to achieve at the tournament?

Spacek: My goal is to have team success and then once you have team success, the individual success will come.

Soustal: I always want to win so I really want to get a medal this year, hopefully the gold one.

How do you see the Czech National Team progressing in the next couple of years?

Spacek: There is a lot of talent in our country. I think we have a bright future ahead of us.

Soustal: I think the Czechs have a lot of strong players born in 1996 and 1997 which can make a good impression in North America and eventually make it to the National Hockey League.

Spacek's Favourites:
NHL Team: No Favorite Team
Childhood Idol: Jaromir Jagr
Video Game: NHL 16
Movie: Ted
TV Show: Friends
Pump Up Song: Closer by Ne-Yo
Home-Cooked Meal: Spaghetti
Activity Away From The Rink: Going to the movies

Soustal's Favourites:
NHL Team: Washington Capitals, Calgary Flames
Childhood Idol: Alexander Ovechkin
Video Game: Call of Duty, Tiger Woods
Movie: Too many to name just one
TV Show: Suits
Pump Up Song: Not going to say
Home-Cooked Meal: Goulash
Activity Away From The Rink: Golf, Tennis, Fast Cars, Fashion


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