Czech national team readies for Ice Hockey Worlds
Overseas, many hockey fans are largely following the latest results in the NHL playoffs, but in Europe, all eyes in will soon be on the Ice Hockey World Championships, set to begin in Prague and Ostrava. The puck will drop in the first face-off on Friday, May 1, with the Czechs facing Sweden in their opening match.
When the puck drops on May 1, the team will begin a new campaign to try and secure a medal. The last time the Czechs won gold was in 2010 and the last time they won gold in Prague was in 1985 – when the country was still Czechoslovakia.
TV announcer: “Our boys are holding the puck. There are three rookies on the ice…”
“We are the Word Champions!”
With hopes high, the national squad coach Vladimír Růžička is betting on both tried and tested talent and younger players. From the start he made clear he wanted to include two veteran players who have gold medals from Nagano ’98, one of whom also has two Stanley Cup rings: the great Jaromír Jágr – who has extended his contract by a year with the Florida Panthers – and forward Martin Ručinský, who just won the Czech league’s playoff final with his club Litvínov.
Both are 43 years old but remain strong assets, capable of inspiring younger teammates and making their mark in matches. In the end, Ručinský, though, did not make the roster due to injury, leaving only Jágr. Fans, though, are no doubt appreciative as these will likely be his last World Championships.
Another key figure is 25-year-old Philadelphia Flyer Jakub Voráček who will wear the “C”. After finding out he would lead the team, he had this to say:
In the first three matches in Group A, the Czechs will face Sweden, Latvia, and Canada.