Centre-forward Martin Hanzal scored twice and fellow player Radim Vrbata earned an assist in NHL action on Monday to help the Phoenix Coyotes defeat the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. The Coyotes are second-to-last in their division in the National Hockey League and 19th out of 30 teams; by contrast the Red Wings are at the top of the standings. Hanzal’s first goal came in the 27th minute and his second late in the game – an empty-netter – as Detroit pulled their goalie for the extra skater. Phoenix had lost to Detroit in their last seven outings.
American hockey players Troy Milam and Alex Foster are halfway through a year-long contract with Sparta Prague, currently the top team in the Czech Extra League. After an important win over their major rivals HC Plzeň, reporters Lothar Martin and Lena Drummer from Radio Prague’s German section met up with the players and asked what they attributed Sparta’s success to.
In Sports News: Two tough wins by tennis player Petra Kvitová at the weekend advanced the Czech Republic to the semi-final of the Fed Cup; preliminary matches in Spain between Czech top flight football club Sparta Prague and Switzerland’s Bellinzona ended following incident; in the NHL, Plekanec scores, earns an assist to help Montreal Canadiens down the Winnipeg Jets; in the domestic hockey league, Kometa Brno trounce Vítkovice.
The Czech Office for the Protection of Competition will review plans to close off the country’s top hockey league, the office’s head Petr Rafaj said on Wednesday. Mr Rafaj said his office was going to probe a possible cartel by hockey clubs; most members of the Czech Professional Ice Hockey Clubs’ Association voted in December to explore the possibility of closing the extraliga off to new teams, citing economic reasons and higher quality of the competition. The plans have come under criticism from sports journalists and fans who prefer to retain the league’s current system of promotion and relegation.
Czech defenseman Tomáš Kabrle spent 12 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs but on Saturday he ‘returned’ to Toronto in a new jersey – that of traditional Toronto rivals the Montreal Canadiens (the defenseman was dealt to Montreal in December in exchange for fellow Czech player Jaroslav Špaček, after spending only part of the season in Carolina). Montreal won the game 3:1, scoring two in the 3rd period: Montreal’s opening goal followed a shot by Plekanec which bounced off the glass to Rene Bourque who put it away.
Hockey forward Milan Michálek will be the lone Czech player to take part in the NHL’s upcoming All-Star Game: he was nominated to the first six All-Star roster by fans; no other Czechs, not even Jaromír Jágr, made the cut. Michalek plays for the Ottawa Senators; the prestigious match-up is to take place in the Canadian capital on January 28.
In Sports News: Czech tennis players Kvitová, Berdych triumph in Hopman Cup; Sáblíková clinches fourth European Championship title in speed skating; Bauer comes in sixth at Tour de Ski; Stanislav Řezáč wins Jizerská padesátka cross-country skiing race; Jágr loses puck on key play in 6:4 Flyer loss against Ottawa.
The junior Czech national hockey team on Thursday beat Slovakia 5:2 to finish fifth at the world championships in Canada. The Czechs, who saw their medal hopes crushed by the Russians in the quarter-finals, went ahead early on against the Slovaks, and were leading 3:0 by the end of the first period, and easily controlled the rest of the game. Fifth place is the best result for the junior Czech team in the last four years.
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