Five days remain until the opening day of the World Ice Hockey Championships in Prague, when the Czech Republic take on Latvia at the recently opened Sazka Arena. The other venue for the Championships - the CEZ arena in Ostrava - played host to a game between the Czech Republic and Russia on Sunday, though it proved to be a less than ideal warm-up for the hosts, who were beaten 4:8. That result meant the Czechs came last in the four-nation Euro Hockey Tour. Two days earlier the Czech Republic had played much better, beating the Russians 5:1 in Moscow.
Getting back to the World Championships, Czech coach Slavomir Lener says team selection will not be easy: several Czech stars have become available after their teams were knocked out in the NHL playoffs, and six squad members have already been sent home to make way for bigger names.
The Nashville Predators' Tomas Vokoun looks set to be Lener's first-choice goaltender, while Czech hockey fans will be keeping their fingers crossed that in-form forward Patrik Elias also decides to represent his country in the Championships.
The final selection will be made known after the Czech Republic's last warm-up game against Canada on Thursday.
Banik Ostrava returned to winning ways on Sunday: after two draws in a row the league leaders beat Pribram 3:0 away, with two of those goals coming from Marek Heinz, who was all smiles after ending a six-game goal drought. That result leaves Ostrava in sight of the title: with five games to go they are five points clear of second-placed Olomouc.
For their part, Olomouc cut it fine at the weekend, scoring the only goal of the game against Synot three minutes into time added on. Third-placed Slavia Prague, meanwhile, dropped more points: their 0:0 result at Opava was their third draw in a row. Sparta Prague can overtake Slavia in third if they beat relegation-threatened Viktoria Zizkov on Monday evening.
There was good news for Czech international manager Karel Brueckner on Saturday, when midfielder Tomas Rosicky played his first game for Borussia Dortmund since breaking his arm in February. Rosicky, who made his comeback less than a week after resuming full training, captained Dortmund in their 2:0 win over Bayern Munich, and received a standing ovation from the 80,000-strong home crowd. Vladimir Smicer is also back from injury, and made the Liverpool starting eleven on Saturday.
Iveta Benesova has been beaten in the final of tennis's Estoril Open in Portugal, going down 7-5 7-6 to Emilie Loit of France on Sunday. Benesova, who is 21, won her first ATP tournament in March, when she triumphed in Mexico after reaching the competition as a qualifier.
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