October is now over and November has just begun. With many teams starting to form their identities, so too are the many Czech imports in the Canadian Hockey League. With every passing week, it seems as though they are discovering what it truly takes to succeed in North America, something that will help them as the rest of the season progresses, and into the following campaign. It is amazing to think that the regular season is coming up on its halfway point so it is imperative that these players get their games going so that there is success all around.
In the OHL, Belleville Bulls sophomore forward David Tomášek did not record any points on October 30 against the North Bay Battalion. That being said, though, he did manage to score in the shootout, which the Bulls bizarrely emerged winning, to take a 3-2 victory from the defending Eastern Conference champions. On November 1, Tomášek recorded an assist and had a plus-1 ranking against the Oshawa Generals but the Bulls were defeated 5-2. The next night, he was pointless in a rematch against Oshawa, another game that went to a long shootout; he did not score in the shootout either. Peterborough Petes rookie defenceman Dominik Mašín had a rather solid weekend. On October 30, he was a plus-1 and he got into a fight with Damian Bourne in a 4-1 victory over the Mississauga Steelheads. On November 2, the Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick scored the opening goal of the game and recorded a powerplay assist in a 6-3 win over the Barrie Colts, certainly warranting his selection as first star of the game. Sarnia Sting first-year forward Pavel Zacha also had quite an eventful weekend. On October 30, he scored a powerplay goal in the first period against the Barrie Colts, the insurance marker as Sarnia soundly defeated the hosts 7-1. While Zacha did not record any points the next night in Sudbury, he did record another powerplay goal on November 2 against the North Bay Battalion; he also recorded a penalty in that game, which the Sting lost 8-5. Once again, too, Sudbury Wolves rookie winger Pavel Jenyš has been a saving grace for a most woeful team. On October 31, the Minnesota Wild prospect recorded a powerplay assist but it was not enough as the Wolves lost 4-1 to the visiting Sarnia Sting. The next night, Jenyš scored a third-period goal that more than cemented a 7-2 win over the host Niagara IceDogs, ending the Wolves’ thirteen-game losing streak. On November 2, Jenyš and his teammates were totally overpowered, losing 7-2 to the London Knights.
In the QMJHL, Charlottetown Islanders rookie forward Filip Chlapík is starting to put up points on a consistent basis once again. On two of the three Islanders’ games this past weekend, he recorded a pair of assists in each. Chlapík was also 7-for-16 in the faceoff circle and he had one hit on October 29 in a 4-1 road victory against the Halifax Mooseheads. Two nights later, in addition to his pair of helpers, he was 8-for-12 on faceoffs but the Islanders suffered a 7-4 loss to the host Moncton Wildcats. On November 2, no one on the Islanders managed to record a point since they were shut out by Halifax but Chlapík still managed to be solid in the dot, going 7-for-11. On November 4, Chlapík continued his fine play, scoring a goal and being 6-for-13 in the faceoff circle in a 5-3 loss against the Moncton Wildcats. Gatineau Olympiques sophomore winger Václav Karabáček did not have the most offensively stellar weekend but, that being said, he and his teammates did not disappoint. On November 1, a goal with 6:16 left in regulation was the game winner as the Olympiques squeaked past the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies by a 6-5 score. The next night, the Buffalo Sabres draft pick recorded a powerplay assist in another 6-5 victory, this time a shootout win over the Val-d’Or Foreurs. Rimouski Océanic third-year defenceman Jan Kosťálek had a very busy weekend as his team made stops in Drummondville, Shawinigan and Victoriaville. On October 31, against the Voltigeurs, the Winnipeg Jets draft pick recorded an assist, making it his fifth straight game with a helper. While he went pointless in the other two games against the Cataractes and the Tigres, Kosťálek did manage to record four hits on November 1 in Shawinigan. One player who truly had an impressive weekend is Saint John Sea Dogs first-year defenceman Jakub Zbořil. The Sea Dogs had a home-and-home with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and he was a factor in each game. Zbořil recorded a powerplay assist on the game-tying goal on October 30, a game Saint John won 6-5 in regulation. Two nights later, he had a powerplay goal, an even-strength assist and three hits in a 5-4 shootout victory. The Val-d’Or Foreurs only employed the services of one of their two Czech imports this past weekend. With Jan Mandát out with an injury he suffered on October 24 against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, rookie defenceman Daniel Krenželok appeared in both games, contests against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and the Gatineau Olympiques. He was rendered pointless in both, though. As for Victoriaville Tigres rookie blueliner Filip Pyrochta, it appears as though his confidence is getting bigger and better in each game. This past weekend, he was remarkable. On October 29, Pyrochta recorded a powerplay assist against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in a game the Tigres won 4-1. On November 1, he recorded his second goal of the season only 35 seconds into the game, the only regulation goal scored by Victoriaville as they lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The next afternoon, Pyrochta had a shorthanded assist and an even-strength assist, as well as two hits, in a 5-1 victory over the Rimouski Océanic. He did not record any points on November 4 against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, though.
In the WHL, as expected, Richard Nejezchleb made his return to major junior hockey with the Brandon Wheat Kings. The New York Rangers prospect, who is going into his overage campaign, made the best of things right away. On October 28, Nejezchleb scored the Wheat Kings’ first goal of the game on the powerplay, a contest they won 3-2 over the Victoria Royals. The next night, against the Vancouver Giants, he recorded an assist. Due to the fact, though, that the Wheat Kings have two other imports (second-year Latvian forward Rihards Bukarts and first-year Russian forward Ivan Provorov), Nejezchleb was traded on November 4 to the Tri-City Americans in a deal that saw third-round draft picks in 2015 and 2017 go the other way. It is not known at this time how the trade will affect the status of either of the Americans’ rookie Russian imports, Vladislav Lukin and Semyon Krasheninnikov. Kelowna Rockets rookie forward Tomáš Šoustal is still finding it hard to record points but it does seem as though he is getting more confident. The Rockets, who are still the top-ranked team in the CHL, had a three-game road trip that saw them play back-to-back games against the Portland Winterhawks on October 30 and November 1, and one against the Vancouver Giants on November 2. Kelowna outscored their opposition 12-6 in those three contests, going 2-0-1, and Šoustal scored the insurance marker on Sunday afternoon in Vancouver in the third period. One rather anomalous occurrence happened over the weekend and that was to see Medicine Hat Tigers goaltender Marek Langhamer come away with two losses. On October 28, Langhamer made 20 saves in a losing cause as the Tigers were defeated 5-3 by the Red Deer Rebels. Two nights later, the Arizona Coyotes prospect made 20 saves in another loss, this time a 4-0 home defeat at the mercy of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Thankfully, on November 4, Langhamer found himself back in his winning ways, recording a 25-save victory over the Swift Current Broncos. As of today, November 5, he currently sits fifth in the WHL in goals-against average (2.26) and tied for seventh in save percentage (.912%). For some reason, however, it is still hard for Moose Jaw Warriors first-year forward Jiří Smejkal to gain any traction in the WHL. He went pointless again this weekend, stretching his drought to nine games, but he has managed to be somewhat steady defensively, only recording a minus-1 ranking in a pair of games against the Prince Albert Raiders and the Calgary Hitmen. On the topic of the Prince Albert Raiders, they had quite a busy five-day stretch, playing four games in that span. Raiders first-year forward Šimon Stranský got a goal and an assist during that swing of games, recording the helper in a 5-0 road win over the Kootenay Ice on October 28 and scoring the snipe on October 31 against the Moose Jaw Warriors. Though he was held pointless, Stranský did find himself being named third star of the Raiders’ home game on November 1 against the Saskatoon Blades. Second-year Raiders defenceman Tomáš Andrlík also had a rather solid four-game set. Andrlík found himself in two fights, one against Jordan Steenburgen on October 28 in Kootenay and one against Jaimen Yakubowski on October 31 in Moose Jaw. On November 1, he had a rather solid game, recording a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win over Saskatoon, garnering second star honours.
As demonstrated, it appears that the Halloween weekend had an equal number of tricks and treats for the many Czech imports in the Canadian Hockey League. A new month is dawning and the games are now going to be fast and furious. There will be many stretches where teams could play up to three or four games in a week, all to get those valuable points needed for playoff pushes. The Czech imports will also be looking to put up points of their own. It will be interesting to see who can rise to the occasion and who will falter.