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Zacha Strikes Again; QMJHL Czechs Falter; Šoustal Finally Gets Rewarded

By on October 21, 2014 in North American with 21 Comments

By Margann Laurissa, CHL special for The Czech List

Time sure seems to be flying by in the 2014-15 CHL season. It is already midway through October and, as the temperatures fluctuate between hot and cold across North America, so too did the point production of the many Czech imports in the Canadian Hockey League this past weekend. Despite this, though, it is good to see some of these players getting handsomely rewarded after such incredible drought. Hopefully, the players who have truly been productive offensively to this point will have this past weekend just be a blip and pick up the slack next weekend.

In the OHL, David Tomášek and his Belleville Bulls teammates had a rather busy weekend. They had three games in four days. The Bulls were the visitors for the Niagara IceDogs’ home opener on October 16, which took place at their new arena, Meridian Centre. Despite how well the team has been playing, they suffered a 7-4 defeat, giving the IceDogs their first victory of the 2014-15 campaign. During a game on October 19 against the Sarnia Sting, Tomášek scored his second goal of the season at 9:23 of the first period, assisted by Maurizio Colella and Brody Morris. The Peterborough Petes had two home games this past weekend. Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Dominik Mašín recorded an assist in each game, garnering helpers on goals by Greg Betzold on Thursday and by Michael Clarke on Saturday. During the game on October 16, Mašín once again found himself in an instigated fight, this time with Sting forward Patrick White; just like the one with Ryan Orban in Saginaw, it will not go against his fight totals for the season. While talking about the Sarnia Sting, it is impressive to see just how remarkable Pavel Zacha has been improving ever since he scored his first goal. Ever since, he has found himself on a five-game point-scoring streak. Zacha and his teammates went on their first Eastern Conference road trip of the season with stops in Peterborough, Oshawa and Belleville, allowing him to play against two of his countrymen. On October 16, in Peterborough, he recorded a powerplay assist on rookie defenceman Jakob Chychrun’s third goal of the season; in addition, Zacha had six penalty minutes. The next night, he recorded a powerplay assist on Anthony DeAngelo’s first goal of the season, and then tallying a third-period goal of his own, worthy of a third star selection. On October 19, Zacha tallied a powerplay goal against Belleville, his first man-advantage tally of the season. Zacha’s ten points in as many games has him second in OHL rookie scoring, behind only Erie Otters forward Alex DeBrincat. The Sudbury Wolves had a short two-game road trip this past weekend and, despite their losses, Minnesota Wild prospect Pavel Jenyš has been somewhat a reprieve. He recorded back-to-back assists on October 17 and October 18, getting helpers on goals by Austin Clapham (his first OHL goal) and Matt Schmalz.

In the QMJHL, Filip Chlapík and his Charlottetown Islanders teammates had two games, October 17 and 19. On October 17, Chlapík recorded two assists in a 4-1 Islanders home victory, garnering helpers on goals by captain Ryan MacKinnon and by alternate captain Oliver Cooper. For his efforts, he was named second star of the game. His thirteen points in fourteen games has him tied for sixth in QMJHL rookie scoring. Another team that had a back-to-back home-and-home series was the Gatineau Olympiques,. Second-year Olympiques forward Václav Karabáček did not record any points during those two games but the Buffalo Sabres draft pick did find himself on the scoresheet in another way, recording a penalty in each game. One Czech QMJHL player who had a rather fantastic weekend was third-year Rimouski Océanic defenceman Jan Kosťálek. The Winnipeg Jets prospect scored his third goal of the season on October 16 against the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, the game-winning goal. He recorded an assist against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar on October 19, when they travelled to Rimouski for the backend of a home-and-home. Kosťálek tallied the helper on a goal by Samuel Laberge. The Saint John Sea Dogs had a home-and-home of their own this past weekend and, even though Jakub Zbořil did not record any points, he still found himself on the scoresheet; on October 17, he had four penalty minutes and one hit in a 7-0 loss, and he had an even plus/minus ranking the next night in a 7-1 win. The Val-d’Or Foreurs had a home-and-home themselves this past weekend, making them another team to have that setup. Jan Mandát had a penalty and a hit on October 17 while Daniel Krenželok was a minus-2 that night. Mandát had seven shots on goal on October 19 in a 5-3 loss while Krenželok was, yet again, a minus-2. Like his fellow countrymen, Victoriaville Tigres defenceman Filip Pyrochta was also in a home-and-home series this past weekend. On October 19, against the Shawinigan Cataractes, Pyrochta led all players on both teams with six hits.

In the WHL, it should be noted that Richard Nejezchleb may not be back with the Brandon Wheat Kings for a while; he has made the roster of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, the affiliate of the New York Rangers. As for the Kelowna Rockets, from October 15 to 18, they had a brief road trip. After going pointless in eight straight games, Rockets rookie forward Tomáš Šoustal finally came out of the mire and he recorded his first WHL career goal on October 18 in Kennewick, Washington. His goal, which was assisted by Tate Coughlin and Lucas Johansen, was scored against Winnipeg Jets prospect Eric Comrie. Medicine Hat Tigers overage goaltender Marek Langhamer continues to be a force between the pipes as the Arizona Coyotes prospect picked up a win and an overtime loss over the weekend. He made seventeen saves in a 2-1 extra frame defeat on October 17 and, the next night, he made another seventeen saves in a 5-1 victory. Langhamer’s record has improved to 6-1-1. His goals-against average of 1.62 is second in the WHL, behind only his creasemate Nick Schneider, while his save percentage of .937% is first in the league. The Moose Jaw Warriors had a busy weekend with two home games and one road game. Warriors rookie forward Jiří Smejkal did not record any points over the weekend and he was only minus-1 in the three games that saw Moose Jaw go 2-1 in the contests. As for the Prince Albert Raiders, they had a rather quiet weekend with one home game and one road match. Šimon Stranský and Tomáš Andrlík did not record any points over the weekend and, since the Raiders lost both games, their plus/minus sadly took a beating, as well.

With October half over, it is imperative that the Czech players continue to thrive. So many of them are playing on teams that are succeeding, mostly due to their contributions. It is amazing to see how well these players are adjusting to life in North America. Hopefully, the rest of October can bring added success to all of the imports and they will keep demonstrating just how integral they are, on and off the ice.

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