It is a well known fact that hockey players have their superstitions and rituals. But sometimes, their parents outdo them with even stronger magic formulas.
Pavel and Hana Palat, parents of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat, who is fighting for his third straight Stanley Cup title in the Final against the Colorado Avalanche, use a lot of these rituals in order to jinx their son's opponents.
The trick of Palat's mom lies in the dough.
Every evening before the Lightning game, she kneads one at home in the eastern Czech town of Frydek-Mistek before she goes to bed at 9 p.m. Central European Time (3 p.m. ET). When she and her husband wake up at 1 a.m. local time, to watch each game live on NHL.TV, she puts the "buchty," a traditional Czech sweet bun stuffed with poppy or cheese with raisins, in the oven.
"During the second intermission, we take the buchty out, eat them while they are still warm and drink tea with milk," Pavel Palat said.
Hana Palat's buchty will be served to the fans as part of the snacks at a watch party the local hockey club HC Frydek-Mistek is throwing for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, which starts at 2 a.m. local time. The watch party will be held at Polarka Sport Centre with a live feed of the game on a big screen.
But baking buchty is just one of many rituals Palat's parents apply to help their son succeed far away from home.
After each Lightning loss, they change their pajamas. After a win, the pajamas stay. When Palat scores, the next day his dad buys a bottle of rum. When he has an assist, he buys a book, usually a detective novel. His collection must have grown to the size of a museum provided Palat's 143 goals and 280 assists in his 628 NHL regular-season games with the Lightning and another 47 goals and 45 assists in 135 playoff games.
All those rituals seem to have worked out well for Palat, who has been one of the main contributors for Tampa Bay during this year's playoff run. He is tied for the team lead in goals (10) with Steven Stamkos and is second with 19 points in 20 games, behind Nikita Kucherov (26).
Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET at Amalie Arena in Tampa, and despite the 6-hour time difference, the dough will be ready again and a fresh set of buchty will add a nice smell to the kitchen of Palat's parents as always.