In Sports News this Monday: the Czech Republic’s ice hockey players win the Karjala Cup for the first time in 18 attempts; Barbora Špotáková becomes Czech Athlete of the Year for the sixth year in a row; the Czech men’s tennis team are preparing to meet Spain in the Davis Cup final in Prague; Viktoria Plzeň go top in the Czech soccer league; and the national team have gathered ahead of a friendly against Slovakia.
The Czech ice hockey team triumphed in the season-opening Karjala Cup at the weekend. It was their first time to win it in 18 attempts. Alois Hadamczik’s charges beat Sweden 3:1 and overcame the hosts Finland 1:0 before beating Russia 2:1 in their final game on Saturday. One of the stars of the team was Ondřej Pavelec, who was named goaltender of the tournament. Forward Petr Nedvěd also made the Karjala Cup’s all-star team, after becoming one of three Czech players to notch up one goal and one assist. General manager Slavomír Lener said the Czech Republic’s success was down to a strong team performance.
“It didn't really matter who scored the goals. We succeeded in defending well. We were very tight and we kept the space in front of the goal clear. To get through the tournament and only concede two goals is fantastic. Also trainer Hadamczik gives young players a chance, and we had a young line for the whole tournament. I take it as an excellent start to the season.”
In other hockey news, Ondřej Pavelec said on Monday he was returning to North America, despite the fact that talks at the weekend to bring an end to the NHL lockout failed. The Winnipeg goalie had been on a short-term contract with the Czech Extraliga side Liberec, though his stay at the club was not a success.
Javelin star Barbora Špotáková was named Czech Athlete of the Year at a ceremony in Prague on Saturday night. However, her success hardly came as a surprise: she had taken the title the previous five years in succession, and took her second Olympic gold in London in the summer.
“It’s the cherry on the cake after the season. This poll always means that I look back over the whole year, how the other nominees did, how my season went. It’s nice to look back at all of that, and to set targets a bit for next year.”
Czech veteran Radek Štěpánek failed to reach the doubles final at tennis’s ATP World Tour Finals with his partner Leander Paes of India. The pair lost 6-4 1-6 10-12 to Indian duo Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in their semi-final in London on Sunday. Štěpánek has since arrived in Prague, where he is training with the Czech team ahead of next weekend’s Davis Cup final against Spain at the city’s O2 Arena. The Czech Republic’s men will be hoping to follow the recent victory of the Czech women in the Fed Cup to make the country the first since 1990 to take both titles.
Viktoria Plzeň have gone top of Czech soccer’s first division after an impressive 3:0 home win over Sigma Olomouc. Plzeň – who also lead their group in the Europa League – moved ahead of Jablonec, who fell to third after losing 3:2 at home to Mladá Boleslav. Sparta Prague are second after a 2:0 win over Brno.
The Czech national squad gathered in Prague on Monday ahead of their last game of the year, a friendly against Slovakia in Olomouc on Wednesday. Coach Michal Bílek has called up five uncapped players for that match.
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