HC Sparta Prague stutter in Extraliga with CHL playoff looming

Former Edmonton oilers prospect Curtis Hamilton signing a one-year contract with HC Sparta Prague

It’s been a rough week to be a Sparta fan. Losing in the Prague “S” derby against a rejuvenated Slavia side was a bitter pill to swallow, meanwhile, swapping the turf for ice, the hockey club have lost consecutive Extraliga matches and face a do-or-die game in the CHL next week.

HC Sparta Prague snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when facing Liberec on the road earlier this week. Sparta twice lead Liberec (1-3 and 2-4) by two clear goals but ended up losing the match on penalties.

The 5-4 reverse against the bili tygri’s was the third consecutive match for Sparta has gone past regulation time and two of those ended in defeats. “We started the game well but we couldn’t hold onto the lead. We must defend better.” Jozef Jandac told the club website after the match in Liberec.

It’s a worrying trend that HC Sparta will be looking to arrest when they travel to Brno this weekend to face Kometa. Sparta, nevertheless, still occupy a healthy position on the Extraliga ladder but they now boast the second worse defensive record in the league. This is, however, negated by their sharpness at the other end of the ice (28:23).

Sparta have an unrelenting schedule ahead of them and the match on Sunday in Moravia will be their third consecutive road game with a fourth to be followed when travelling to Switzerland for their CHL playoff against the ZSC Lions.

Sparta will be aiming to keep their Swiss rivals at arm lengths after taking a 3-2 from the first match in Prague – although it could have been so much better had they maintained their three goal advantage accrued after 28 minutes but their defensive frailties were evident again as the Lions clawed their way back into the picture.

All eyes, however, will be on the 18 year-old American forward Austin Matthews who plays for the ZSC Lions. Matthews is touted as having a big future in front of him and could prove to be the difference in Sparta advancing to the next stage in the Champions League. You can watch the match live on Tuesday 6th October at www.sport1tv.cz

Despite the tough task ahead for the Sparta, they will have been buoyed by the news of the former Edmonton oilers prospect Curtis Hamilton signing a one-year contract with the club. The 23 year-old Canadian left winger joins compatriot Ryan Glenn on the roster of Sparta Prague as the club continues to strengthen its ranks.

Meanwhile, out of the spotlight and glare of Champions League hockey, HC Slavia Prague are building some steady momentum in their crusade for a swift return to Extraliga action.

Since our last hockey preview two weeks ago, when Slavia endured a mixed start to life in the second tier of Czech hockey, the club has been on a winning streak that, quite frankly, unfamiliar territory for this Slavia side.

The 3-2 overtime victory over Kadan on September 19 has sparked a five game winning streak that has seen the club outscore their opponents 25:7 and propelled them to top spot in the 1.liga ladder. Next up for the 1.liga leaders is a road trip to Litomerice on Sunday but they return to the Czech capital on Wednesday 7th October when entertaining Usti nad Labem.

HC Sparta Praha (ENG)
HC Slavia Praha (CZ)
Champions Hockey League (ENG)

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