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Czechs Continue Prowess in QMJHL’s Second Week, WHL’s Opening Weekend

By on September 27, 2014 in North American with 2 Comments

By Margann Laurissa, CHL special for The Czech List

Only two weeks into the 2014-15 CHL season, it seems as though the Czech imports in the CHL this year are going to be quite dynamic. It proves to be a wonderful start to what should be an incredible campaign.

In the QMJHL, Filip Chlapík is continuing to put together a fine rookie season with the Charlottetown Islanders. This past weekend, he and his teammates had a two-game back-to-back series against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in Sydney. On the first night, Chlapík found himself on a line once again with Daniel Sprong but, instead of rookie Samuel Guilbault, he was joined by former Mississauga Steelheads forward Spenser Cobbold. At 11:08 of the first period on that Friday night contest, he and Cobbold assisted on a goal by Sprong to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead. In the second period, with 1:32 left in the frame, Chlapík scored on the powerplay from Sprong and Kameron Kielly to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead. In addition, he won eleven of his eighteen faceoffs. The Islanders would eventually win 5-4. The next night, the Islanders lost 7-1, but Chlapík scored the only goal Charlottetown managed to tally against Screaming Eagles netminder Miguel Sullivan. Saint John Sea Dogs rookie defenceman Jakub Zbořil truly endeared himself to his team’s home fans as they hosted the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on September 19. The 4609 fans at Harbour Station were given a wonderful surprise as Zbořil recorded two assists that night, both of them coming on goals by Nathan Noel. The Sea Dogs won that game 5-1. As for other rookie defencemen, Daniel Krenželok of the Val-d’Or Foreurs is starting to make a name for himself, as well. On September 20, only 4:37 into the first period of the game against the Sherbrooke Phoenix, Krenželok scored on a feed from Anthony Beauregard for his first QMJHL career goal. The Foreurs won the game 7-4 and, for his efforts, Krenželok was named first star. The two Czechs on the Victoriaville Tigres are also starting to gain traction; Jan Mandát scored his first goal of the season this past weekend, an empty-netter against the Gatineau Olympiques in a 5-2 victory, while Filip Pyrochta is starting to play well defensively. (It should be noted that Václav Karabáček and Jan Košťálek are still not back from the training camps of the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets, respectively.)

In the WHL, the Kelowna Rockets started the season with a convincing 6-1 win over the Kamloops Blazers on September 20. Tomáš Šoustal recorded his first WHL career point, an assist on the winning goal, which was scored by third-year defenceman Riley Stadel. In addition, Šoustal recorded a penalty for roughing later on in the game, endearing himself to fans of an organization that has prided itself on developing significant talent. Also on September 20, the Moose Jaw Warriors may have lost 5-2 to the visiting Swift Current Broncos but towering rookie forward Jiří Smejkal found himself on the scoresheet. Smejkal registered an assist on linemate Noah Gregor’s first WHL career goal, giving his linemate his own first WHL career point. This defeat came on the backend of a home-and-home series with the Broncos, the first of which was a 6-0 shutout loss for the Warriors. Another Saskatchewan-based WHL team, the Prince Albert Raiders, have been receiving solid contributions from their Czech imports early on this season, as well. Rookie forward Šimon Stránský registered his first WHL career point in his début game on September 19 against the Saskatoon Blades, assisting on Reid Gardiner’s second goal of the game as Prince Albert came away with a 5-3 home victory. As for the Raiders’ other Czech import, defenceman Tomáš Andrlík scored his first goal of the season in the second game of their home-and-home series with Saskatoon; his unassisted marker only 47 seconds into the second period tied the game 1-1 and set in motion a rally that saw the Raiders defeat the Blades 3-1. Andrlík recorded twenty points last year as a rookie — two goals, eighteen assists — and all three of his WHL career goals now have come in 2014. (It should be noted that the other Czech import expected to play in the WHL this year, third-year overage Brandon Wheat Kings forward Richard Nejezchleb, is still at training camp with the New York Rangers.)

The OHL will open their season starting on September 24 with four Czech imports, three of whom will be starting their first seasons in North America. Dominik Mašín, Pavel Zacha and Pavel Jenyš are set to begin their rookie campaigns with the Peterborough Petes, Sarnia Sting and Sudbury Wolves, respectively. Meanwhile, David Tomášek will be going into his second season with the Belleville Bulls, hoping to build on a rookie season that saw him record 27 points (thirteen goals, fourteen assists) in 58 games last year. Updates will come as the season progresses.

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