The NHL has confirmed that the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightening will start their 2008/09 seasons in the Czech Republic, playing back-to-back games in Prague. The news was announced by National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman on Saturday. Mr Bettman expressed satisfaction that hockey fans abroad would be able to see the NHL game up close. The New York Rangers are home to a number of well-known Czech players, including star forward Jaromír Jágr. The Prague games, which will take place on October 4 and 5 at Sazka Arena, are not the only ones scheduled in Europe: on the same days the Ottawa Senators will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in Stockholm.
In hockey: the NHL’s All-Star Game between the Eastern and Western Conferences is set to take place on Sunday, with two Czech players on the Eastern conference roster. They are Tomáš Kabrle, defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs and goalie Tomáš Vokoun, who plays for the Florida Panthers. The All-Star Game has a long tradition in the NHL; last year the showcase match was won by the West by a score of 12:9.
In hockey action on Thursday in the NHL Czech forward Radim Vrbata notched
a hat trick to lead his team Phoenix over the Nashville Predators 4:3 in
overtime. Vrbata scored all three goals in regular time, and also assisted
on the winner in OT by Czech defender Zbyněk Michálek. The hat trick is
Vrbata’s career third in the NHL.
In other games: Michal Rozsíval helped his New York Rangers defeat Atlanta 2:1, scoring once and earning an assist. New Jersey Devil Patrik Eliáš scored twice against Montreal, but his team still lost to the Habs 4:3.
In NHL ice hockey action on Thursday Czech goalie Dominik Hašek cam through the winner in a match between his Detroit Red Wings and the Vancouver Canucks. During the game, Hašek turned away 26 shots, while his counterpart for the Canucks, Roberto Luongo stopped 47. With the game tied 2:2 and no goals in OT, the game went to a penalty shootout, which was won by Detroit. The Red Wings continue to top the National League.
In Sports News this week: speed skater Martina Sáblíková is named Czech Sportsperson of the Year and takes bronze from the European Championships in Russia; Sparta Prague ice hockey club are also in action in Russia, losing in the final of the Super Six European club competition to Magnitogorsk; Nicole Vaidišová advances to the second round of the Australian Open with ease; and Petr Čech comes out on top in the battle of the Czech goalkeepers in the Premier League.
In NHL action on Thursday evening Czech ice hockey players Rostislav Olesz
and Kamil Kreps helped their team the Florida Panthers down Atlanta 4:3 on
penalties. Former Atlanta goalie Tomáš Vokoun caught the final penalty
for the Florida win.
In other action Patrik Eliáš scored the winner for New Jersey against Carolina: the Devils won 4:1.
Forwards Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata each scored goals and notched
assists to help their team, the Phoenix Coyotes, down the Chicago Black
Hawks 4:2 in NHL ice hockey action on Thursday. Hanzal was named player of
the match, while Vrbata was the third star.
In other games, Petr Sýkora of Pittsburgh scored his twelfth goal of the season in a 6:2 Penguin romp over Toronto.
Three points on the night (including a third period tying goal) by Tampa’s Václav Prospal weren’t enough against the Montreal Canadiens, who rebounded in the 3rd to win with a final score of 6:3.
Ernest Bokros, the coach of the ice-hoceky club RI Okna Zlin resigned on Sunday over poor results. The coach has been with the club since 2003 and won the only title for the Moravian team in 2004. This year, Zlin is currently last but one in the Extraliga table. The position will probably be filled by Rostislav Vlach, a former forward for Zlin and the Czech national team.
The Czech U-20 national ice hockey team beat Slovakia 5:2 at the World Championship in Pardubice on Saturday. The Czechs took the lead in the first period with two goals while their Slovak peers were only able to bring the puck into the net when the score was 4:0 for the Czechs. This victory secures the Czech Under-20 national team a spot in the Championship’s quarter-finals. In previous games, the Czech Republic beat Denmark and only lost to Canada, the tournament’s favourite.
A day after falling to Canada 3:0 in their opener at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship in Pardubice, the Czechs rebounded with a win over Denmark. The Czech team’s captain, Micahel Frolik, put the Czechs ahead early in the first period by scoring a natural hat trick. The Czechs added two more in the second, before the Danes pulled back with two goals. On Saturday the Czechs will face Slovakia.
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