One week into the World Championships: “I’ve never seen people so excited about hockey”, says commentator

The 2024 World Hockey Championships are well underway in Prague and Ostrava. One week into the tournament, there have already been memorable moments and upsets, making this year’s tournament one to remember. To check in on how team Czechia is doing, I spoke with Czech Radio sports reporter Adam Weidenthaler, who’s been covering the championship in Prague.

Adam Weidenthaler | Photo: Khalil Baalbaki,  Czech Radio

“It’s been quite good, Czechia won twice in regulation time, and then two games went into shootouts, where they won once and also lost once. The Czech national team has won the important games, and have also picked up some extra points as well, so it’s looking good. Now that Carolina has dropped out of the NHL playoffs, there’s an assumption that Martin Nečas will come and join the national team. We don’t know for sure yet, but that information could be out by the end of the day.”

That’s what is great about this tournament, anything can happen and players are still able to join their national teams as NHL playoffs wind down. But right now, who are the main players really standing out so far in the tournament for Czechia?

“The goaltending is really strong - Lukáš Dostál is the starter in net and he has been doing really well. There’s also Ondřej Palát of course, the forward from the New Jersey Devils in the NHL who’s definitely been the MVP for the national team so far in the tournament. There are also a few guys who have been doing really well that play in Europe, like the Czech league who have been great on the forward line. So there’s an assumption that if Nečas comes, or David Pastrňák from Boston, they will enter the line-up right away.”

David Pastrňák | Photo: Bostonbruinsfan22,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

How are you feeling about Czechia’s upcoming match tonight against Austria? Austria has really been a disrupter in this tournament, they gave the Canadians a run for their money the other night. Are you worried about this match at all?

“I’m not so worried, Austria is going to be quite fatigued since they played yesterday and the Czechs had the day off, so I don’t expect it to be a huge upset. I’ve also found out that Czechs really root for the teams who are outsiders, they were cheering for Austria when they played Canada and Finland, and they cheered for Great Britain when they played Switzerland. But tonight, the Austrians won’t have the same amount of support from the crowd as the Czechs, so I think it’s going to be an easy win.”

You’ve been covering the games here in Prague, what’s the environment been like at the arena so far?

“It’s been such a great experience. The amount of pressure, the media, the atmosphere, it’s something I’ve never experience before. It’s so cool to be a part of this, because I have never seen people so excited about hockey – there are hundreds of people every day next to the arena chatting about hockey. The buzz is really all over the city and its super fulfilling.”