The Czech Ice Hockey Association would like nothing more than to see the country snap its disappointing string of appearances at the WJC.
CZECH REPUBLIC SCHEDULE
The Czech Republic will play its preliminary-round games at Rexall Place in Edmonton. The medal round will be held at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary
Dec. 27 - Czech Republic vs. Denmark
Dec. 28 - Czech Republic vs. Canada
Dec. 30 - Czech Republic vs. U.S.
Dec. 31 - Czech Republic vs. Finland
Jan. 2 - Quarterfinals
Jan. 3 - Semifinals
Jan. 5 - Gold medal/bronze medal games
The program boasted back-to-back gold medals in 2000 and 2001 behind players such as Martin Havlat
, Radim Vrbata
, Martin Erat
and Tomas Plekanec
and three Czechs (goalie Tomas Duba
, defenseman Rostislav Klesla
and forward Pavel Brendl
) even earned the tournament's best player awards at the 2001 WJC in Russia.
Since then, though, the Czechs have fallen on hard times, producing just a single medal, a bronze in 2005. The Czech Republic hasn't finished higher than fifth in the last six tournaments, and has finished seventh each of the last two years.
The Czechs are hoping that changes at the 2012 WJC in Edmonton and Calgary later this month when they compete in Group B, along with Denmark, Finland, the U.S. and Canada.
Bolstered by five returning players, a few NHL draft picks and four highly-regarded 2012 NHL Draft-eligible prospects, the Czech Republic looks to get back to their more successful days.
Coming back for this year's tournament will be defenseman Bohumil Jank
and forwards Petr Holik
, Petr Straka
, Jakub Culek
and Martin Frk.
CZECH REPUBLIC 2012 WJC CAMP ROSTER
GOALIES -- Libor Kasik
, HC Olomouc (2012 draft eligible); Tomas Kral, Karpat Oulu, FIN (2012 draft eligible); Petr Mrazek
, Ottawa, OHL (Detroit).
Tomas Bartejs, Pirati Chomutov (2012 draft eligible); Marek Hrbas, Kamloops, WHL (2012 draft eligible); Bohumil Jank
, HC Lev Poprad, KHL (2012 draft eligible); Daniel Krejci
, HC Slavia Praha (2012 draft eligible); Vojtech Mozik, BK Mlada Boleslav (2012 draft eligible); David Musil
, Vancouver, WHL (Edmonton); Filip Pavlik
, HC Usti (2012 draft eligible); Jiri Riha, HC Benatky (2012 draft eligible); Petr Zamorsky
, HC Zlin (2012 draft eligible).
FORWARDS -- Jakub Culek
, Rimouski, QMJHL (Ottawa); Radek Faksa, Kitchener, OHL (2012 draft eligible); Tomas Filippi
, Baie-Comeau, QMJHL (2012 draft eligible); Martin Frk, Halifax, QMJHL (2012 draft eligible); Tomas Hertl, HC Slavia Praha (2012 draft eligible); Petr Holik
, HC Zlin (2012 draft eligible); Tomas Hyka
, Gatineau, QMJHL (2012 draft eligible); Dmitrij Jaskin
, HC Slavia Praha (St. Louis); Tomas Nosek, HC Pardubice (2012 draft eligible); Daniel Pribyl
, HC Sparta Praha (Montreal); Lukas Sedlak
, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (Columbus); Jiri Sekac, HC Lev Poprad, KHL (2012 draft eligible); Petr Straka
, Rimouski, QMJHL (Columbus); Michal Svihalek, HC Ceske Budejovice (2012 draft eligible); Dominik Uher
, Spokane, WHL (Pittsburgh).
The Czechs will arrive in Calgary on Dec. 17 and the team's camp will be held in Lethbridge, Alta. There are two exhibition games scheduled -- against Latvia on Dec. 20 and Russia on Dec. 22. Coach Miroslav Prerost will determine his final roster at the conclusion of the game against Russia.
The team's offensive fortunes may rest of the availability of Frk, who plays for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Frk, a top 2012 draft prospect, hasn't played this season while dealing with post-concussion symptoms. He suffered his injury on a hit in a preseason game, and has been practicing with the team since Oct. 6, but has yet to receive clearance to play in a game.
Frk had 22 goals and 50 points in 62 games as a QMJHL rookie in 2010-11, and 6 points in six games for the Czech Republic at the 2011 WJC.
Center Tomas Hertl, the top-rated Czech skater according to NHL Central Scouting's preliminary rakings, will be at the camp, along with defenseman Petr Zamorsky
, No. 20 on Central Scouting's list.
Frk, despite not playing this season, is No. 2 among skaters playing in the QMJHL, while left wing Radek Faksa of the Kitchener Rangers is rated No. 4 among Ontario Hockey League skaters. In 27 games with the Rangers this season, Faksa has 14 goals and 27 points.
One other notable on the roster is Daniel Krejci
. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman had 3 goals, 7 points and 40 penalty minutes in 19 games with HC Most in the Czech 2 league this season.
Seven NHL teams will have at least one prospect at the camp, including two from the Columbus Blue Jackets
-- Straka and forward Lukas Sedlak
of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale