Ice Hockey in Prague
Your guide to watching the O2 Extraliga in Prague, updated for the 2009/10 season
Adding to hockey fans' excitement this season is the return of goaltending legend Dominik Hašek to Pardubice and defenseman František Kaberle to Kladno, but Prague remains an Extraliga stronghold.
Prague remains a hockey stronghold, however, and its two professional teams -- HC Sparta Praha and HC Slavia Praha -- are currently among the best in the Czech Republic.
Slavia was the national champion in 2008 and runner-up to Karlovy Vary last season while Sparta last won the championship in 2007.
HC SLAVIA PRAHA
Home Ice: O2 Arena, Ocelářská 2, Prague 9
Colors: Red and white
Ticket Prices: 100-260 CZK
Founded in 1900, Slavia spent much of the last century in the minor leagues but have begun the 21st century in style.
Under coach Vladimír Růžička, who captained the Czech Republic to gold at 1998's Nagano Winter Olympics, Slavia reached the Extraliga semifinals in 2001, claimed the title itself in 2003 and repeated the feat in 2008.
In 2004, Slavia vacated its tiny "Eden" arena, in Prague 10-Vršovice, and moved into its new, state-of-the-art home, an 18,000-capacity facility built for 2004's World Ice Hockey Championship.
Advance tickets for Slavia home games are available via the Sazka Ticket network.
HC Slavia Praha 2009/10 Schedule
HC SPARTA PRAHA
Home Ice: Tesla Arena, Za elektárnou 419, Prague 7
Colors: Dark red, white, blue, yellow and red jerseys, black pants
Ticket Prices: 100-180 CZK
Formed in 1903, Sparta first became a force to be reckoned with in the 1950s when, under the name TJ Spartak Praha Sokolovo, they won back-to-back Czechoslovak championships.
The club's emergence as a true hockey superpower coincided with the fall of Communism, however, and since 1989 Sparta have won a further six national titles.
After winning championships in 2006 and 2007, however, Sparta was eliminated at the quarterfinal stage of 2008's playoffs and lost in the semifinals in 2008.
As a result, 39-year-old Pavel Hynek has replaced František Výborný as coach, but has hired the 55-year-old as his assistant, reversing the roles the pair had when they worked together at Sparta in 2000.
Built in 1962 and renovated in 1978 to stage the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship, Sparta's home, now known as Tesla Arena, is beginning to show its age and was overlooked when the Czech Republic hosted the 2004 World Championship.
Despite this, the 15,000-capacity arena is a reasonably safe and comfortable place to watch hockey.
Advance tickets for Sparta home games are available via the Ticketportal network.
HC Sparta Praha 2009/10 Schedule
• The 2010 Extraliga playoffs are scheduled to take place between March 6 and April 29
Video on YouTube
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