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Nakladal excited for 'surprise' World Cup nod

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames defenceman Jakub Nakladal didn’t expect a call from Czech Republic general manager Martin Rucinsky.

He gladly accepted one, though.

And he’ll answer the call for his country at the World Cup of Hockey in September.

“I was surprised because I didn’t expect it,” Nakladal said. “I think we have a couple good defencemen in the NHL and in Europe. I knew that the first four defencemen that were there. There were just three spots. I didn’t expect it. The manager called me and told me I’d be there. I was so happy because I think for me it’s almost like the Olympic Games. There will be the best players in the world. Everybody will be there.

“I’m really looking forward to the tournament.”

Nakladal had two goals and five points in 27 games with the Flames last season, and two goals and 14 points in 35 games with Stockton of the American Hockey League last season.

His stint in Calgary accomplished one goal he set out to reach last summer.

His participation in the World Cup this fall will scratch off another.

“Before last season, I had two goals,” Nakladal explained. “The first goal was to play in the NHL, to make the team. The second goal was the World Cup. It’s good for me. Now I hope we have a good team and we’re going to have good results.”

Nakladal is no stranger to the international game.

He’s represented the Czech Republic at the IIHF World Championship in 2012, 2013 and 2015. The 28-year-old wasn’t able to participate in 2016 because of a lingering injury from the regular season.

His international resume has him at ease in the best-on-best format.

“I know what it’s like to play on the National team,” said Nakladal, who has resumed skating and declared himself 100 percent recovered. “It’s absolutely different than playing in a normal season on a club team. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Europe or the NHL … it’s always different to play on the national team. I think it’ll be okay. I was in three World Championships. I don’t feel any pressure. I just want to enjoy the tournament because it will be absolutely the best players in the world. I just want to enjoy it and help earn good results.”

Nakladal’s addition gives the Flames five players at the World Cup. He’ll join Michael Frolik with the Czech Republic, and Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan will represent Team North America. Defenceman Jyrki Jokipakka was also named to Finland’s entry Friday.

Nakladal has no hesitation in facing fellow Flames.

Not in the name of his country.

“It’s always fun to play teammates,” he said. “Sometimes you can talk to each other during the games. It’s funny. I think it’s nothing special when I’m going to be on the ice. I just have to focus for the game and don’t think about anything about my teammates from Calgary right now, or anything like that.

"You have to focus on the game and play for your team.”

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