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Czech Imports Have Up-and-Down Start to October

By on October 7, 2014 in North American with 11 Comments

By Margann Laurissa, CHL special for The Czech List

September has come and gone. With a new month comes more games and, with them, ample chances for the Canadian Hockey League’s several Czech imports to show what they are made of. In the first weekend of October, there were times where some of these players truly shone but others seemed to struggle. All in all, though, October has started off quite bizarrely and, hopefully, this trend will not continue throughout the rest of the month.

In the QMJHL, the biggest surprise of the first weekend of October comes with the fact that, in three games, Charlottetown Islanders rookie forward Filip Chlapík was held pointless. That being said, though, he did manage to supplement his lack of offensive output in other ways. On October 1, Chlapík was 16-for-28 in the faceoff circle, by far one of the best performances in that regard. Two nights later, against Val-d’Or, he went 11-for-24. On October 4, his 10-for-17 record in the faceoff dot was a true relief as the Islanders were soundly defeated 7-0. Conversely, second-year Gatineau Olympiques forward Václav Karabáček had a fantastic start to October. On October 1, the Buffalo Sabres draft pick scored two goals in a 5-3 Olympiques victory over the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, garnering him first star honours. On October 5, Karabáček followed that up with a goal and an assist in a 5-4 win over the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, once again being named first star of the game. Third-year Rimouski Océanic defenceman Jan Kosťálek had an eventful weekend, as well. On October 3, he recorded an assist on the only goal in a 1-0 win over the host Shawinigan Cataractes; he also co-led the Océanic with five hits. The next night, Kosťálek recorded another helper. Another defenceman to record assists in back-to-back games was Saint John Sea Dogs rookie blueliner Jakub Zbořil. He recorded one on a powerplay goal against Charlottetown on October 1 and, two nights later, he recorded another against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. The Val-d’Or Foreurs found themselves making news on the Czech import front before October began, acquiring Jan Mandát from Victoriaville late in September. Mandát scored his first goal as a Foreur on October 4 against the Moncton Wildcats, with an assist going to fellow countryman Daniel Krenželok, one of two assists the latter recorded that night. The next night, in Halifax, Mandát recorded a pair of assists of his own in a 4-3 shootout win over the Mooseheads. Unfortunately, points are still hard to come by for Tigres rookie defenceman Filip Pyrochta but he is asserting himself physically, recording four hits in two games this past weekend.

In the WHL, Kelowna Rockets rookie forward Tomáš Šoustal is still finding it difficult to put up points. After recording assists in back-to-back games to start the season, the 6’3″ first-year winger is experiencing considerable difficulty producing at the major junior level. Medicine Hat Tigers overage goaltender Marek Langhamer is truly helping his team succeed early on in the season. He recorded a 27-save win on October 4 over the visiting Kamloops Blazers. In four games thus far, Langhamer has a 3-1-0 record, a 1.76 goals-against average and a .941% save percentage. Moose Jaw Warriors rookie forward Jiří Smejkal is also finding it hard to put up points to start his rookie WHL season but he recorded an assist on October 4 against the Tri-City Americans. The assist was a noteworthy one. Warriors defenceman Spenser Jensen tallied the goal, which was his first since September 22, 2012. The trend of lack of point production is also being felt by Prince Albert Raiders rookie forward Šimon Stranský, who has not recorded a point since the season opener on September 19. Raiders second-year defenceman Tomáš Andrlík, however, did manage to find himself on the scoresheet in the opening weekend of October, tallying an assist on October 3. (It should be noted that the Brandon Wheat Kings are still awaiting word on whether they will have an overage season out of New York Rangers 2014 draft pick Richard Nejezchleb. At this time, he is still with their camp and there is a chance he may also attend the training camp of their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack.)

In the OHL, the Czechs had an up-and-down start to October, as well. The Belleville Bulls swept their home-and-home series against the Kingston Frontenacs this past weekend but they scratched second-year forward David Tomášek for both games. The Peterborough Petes organization and their fans finally got to see just how dynamic their Czech import, rookie defenceman Dominik Mašín, is offensively early on in October. On October 2, against Belleville, the Tampa Bay Lightning second-rounder tallied his first two OHL career goals in a 7-3 win, including one coming on the powerplay. For his efforts, Mašín was named the game’s first star. Sarnia Sting forward Pavel Zacha is still acclimating himself to the North American game and, while he is still awaiting his first OHL career goal, he did record a powerplay assist in a 4-2 loss against the Barrie Colts. Conversely, Pavel Jenyš is doing extremely well for the Sudbury Wolves. On October 5, Jenyš recorded an assist on a goal by Matt Schmalz and scored a powerplay goal of his own later in the game in a 6-2 loss against the North Bay Battalion; for his efforts, though, he was named the game’s third star.

Even though many of the CHL’s Czech imports faltered slightly during the first week of October, the best redemption comes in the fact that the month has only just started. There are four more weekends for these players to start putting up the points that they are truly capable of producing. With so much firepower, there is no doubt that they will do this sooner rather than later.

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