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Kotalik Heads to Turino

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres

February 17, 2006

Ales Kotalik is heading to the Olympics and not as a spectator. Friday, Kotalik was named as a substitute to the Czech Republic Olympic Hockey team after New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias was sidelined for the remainder of the tournament with bruised ribs.

Elias suffered the injury during the team's opening game against Germany on Wednesday and hasn't been able to play since.

Kotalik, who is a rookie to the international stage, currently leads the Sabres in goals (21), power-play goals (10), points (44), and shots (189).

The substitution is the latest in a string of injuries for a Czech team that is 1-1 during Olympic play.

The team lost Ottawa Senators goaltender Dominik Hasek when the netminder suffered a groin injury also against Germany, New York Rangers rookie Petr Prucha prior to the games with a sprained MCL and now Elias, who was originally named to the Olympic team as Prucha's replacement.

The Czechs, an early favorite for a medal, are tied with Switzerland for third place in Group A after losing 3-2 to the Swiss on Thursday. The top four teams from each group advance to the eight-team elimination round that determines the medalists.

For more coverage of the Olympics, click here.
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