Kometa Brno ends long wait to win ice hockey championship title
After a long wait, the home ice hockey team of the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno, has just landed the top domestic league title. There were celebrations on the home ice and in the city.
In recent years the league title has been tantalisingly close, Brno were championship runners up in 2012 and 2014. This time round it looked like the club were leaving nothing to chance. Facing the reigning league champions, Liberec, in the finals, Brno quickly established a three series lead with wins at home and away. And it was appropriate perhaps that the first chance to take the league title came before Kometa’s enthusiastic, and apparently patient, home fans.
ʺI have played hockey all my life with the goal of having this feeling. I am overjoyed that the boys and the team have finally made it possible for me at the end of my career."
After taking a 3:0 lead in the finals series, the Brno captain admitted that the pressure was on to end the long wait for a league title but expectations still had to be contained. And the tension in the sold out Brno stadium built up throughout the first period with neither team finding the net. Kometa struck first in the 23rd minute but it took Liberec just 15 seconds to hit back and draw level.
ʺWe sort of expected it and did not expect it. We certainly believed in ourselves and it helped a lot to win the two away matches, that was a real boost. But during the whole series and the play-offs we were strong throughout and there were not lapses. We maintained our consistent form."
Čermak added that he was only convinced they had clinched the title with 30 second left on the clock. The Brno manager though confessed that he had believed from May last year that the mix of new talent and old players being put together would pay off this season.
During the play-offs and finals Kometa only lost two matches, both in the semi-finals against Hradec Králové. The long awaited win gives the club its 12th title, equalling the existing tally of the record championship holder Jihlava. In its golden era ending in 1966 the Brno club had won 11 titles in 12 seasons.