HC Sparta Prague host Vitkovice aiming to maintain perfect start
HC Sparta Prague faces Vitkovice on Friday @ O2 Arena Prague
It's early days yet, but Sparta are level on points with Plzen and Trinec at the top of the Extraliga ladder following their 5-3 win at Zlin last weekend and the signs are encouraging.
The victory at Zlin was well deserved but it could have been a different story if Sparta would have followed the script that Zlin had prepared.
Almost 6000 spectators were crammed into the Zimní stadión Luďka Čajky as three legends of the city (Čajánek, Leška aand Balaštík) were on hand to watch the match from the stands and say farewell after retiring from the game.
But Sparta scuppered any chances of Zlin marking the occasion with a victory. Sparta's grip on the match never looked in doubt after racing into a 2-0 lead in the opening period.
Sparta will continue their Extraliga campaign against Vitkovice on Friday and tickets can be purchased from www.ticketportal.cz or direct from the www.hcsparta.cz website.
The club, however, will surely have one eye on next week's Champions Hockey League (CHL) playoff against ZSC Lions. Sparta advanced from the group stages and now tackle the Swiss side on Tuesday 22nd September on home ice before travelling to the 13,000 capacity Hallenstadion in Zurich two weeks later.
Across town in Prague 10, HC Slavia Prague have enjoyed a mixed start to life in the 1.liga and currently occupy a mid-table place after four matches. Slavia, though, have had three road games to contend with but will now look towards the home comforts at Vrsovice when they welcome Kadan on Saturday 19th September at 17:30.
But Slavia will need to tighten their defence play as Kadan arrive in the Czech capital after smashing seven past Prostejov in the last round. While Slavia themselves shipped four goals in a 4-1 reverse when visiting the early pacesetters Ceske Budejovice.
The result could have been even worse for the recently relegated Prague side had Budejovice capitalised on a 5-on-3 situation, while the shot count was 42-14 in the hosts favour. It’s clear that Slavia are suffering from a lack of cohesion and will need time for their arrivals in the roster to gel.
Meanwhile, the schedule for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey has been announced and Team Czech Republic have been paired up with Team Canada, Team USA and Team Europe. The competition has been on a 12 year hiatus but returns next year with all of the round robin games to be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto - home of the Maples Leafs.
The World Cup of Hockey will feature more than 150 of the best players in the NHL and, as well as featuring the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden and Finland, will also have a Team Europe that will be made up of the best pan-European players - with the spine of the team from Slovakia.
While a North American team will also compete in what feels like an experimental format. Nevertheless, the prestigious competition will actually showcase more talent than the World Championships - which is affected by the NHL playoffs that run parallel.
Fortunately, for the Czech fans who cannot make the trip to Toronto next autumn, the warm-up games for Team Czech Republic will be played in Europe starting with a match at the O2 arena in Prague. The opposition has still to be decided but it will likely be either Finland, Sweden or Russia.
For further information on the upcoming matches of Sparta and Slavia Prague please visit their websites below.
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