Jaromir Jagr… Dominik Hasek… the top of the world. But also Dominik Kubalik, Roman Cervenka, Jiri Novotny when it comes to our 2018-19 National League. And in the past, also in our latitudes, players such as Robert Kousal, Michal Repik, Petr Taticek, Zdenek Kutlak, Jaroslav Bednar, Josef Marha… and we could continue.
Yep, you got it, we’re talking about Czech Republic ice hockey. A country where ice hockey is almost like a religion and that gifted us passionates with countless top class players.
Today, anyway, we focus on the 2018-19 Tipsport Extraliga, the Czech league that saw the HC Oceláři Třinec crowned Champions after a very exciting final played against Bílí Tygři Liberec!
We personally, when it comes to ice hockey in Czech Republic, recall the legendary Sparta Praha. A team who had a great success during the first eight years of this century… but that in fact, won the last title back in 2008 and that during the last 11 seasons only made it once (2016) to the final and lost it against Bílí Tygři Liberec.
But let’s get down to the details of the 2018-19 season.
TIPSPORT EXTRALIGA 2018-19
14 teams take part in the Tipsport Extraliga and play a total of 52 Regular Season games. The first six teams qualify directly to the playoffs. On the other hand, the teams placed between 7th and 10th placed face each other in a “best-of-five” series to establish who are the last two teams who make the playoffs.
Let’s have a look at the 2018-19 Regular Season table.
The battle was fierce at the top of the table. Bílí Tygři Liberec finished the Regular Season as league leaders in front of Oceláři Třinec and Škoda Plzeň. The team who struggled the most, on the other hand, is Dynamo Pardubice who earned only 36 points in 52 games… but that was then nevertheless able to save their place in the Extraliga. At the same time, Piráti Chomutov were relegated and will be replaced next season by Rytiri Kladno.
The leading scorer at the end of the Regular Season was Milan Gulas of Škoda Plzeň, who tallied 62 points (30 goals) in 51 games.
But let’s see what happened during the most important time of the season, that is during playoffs.
2018-19 TIPSPORT EXTRALIGA – PLAYOFFS
BK Mladá Boleslav – Aukro Berani Zlín 3-2
HC Vítkovice Ridera – HC Sparta Praha 3-1
During the preliminary round, Vítkovice Ridera got rid off Sparta Praha (3-1) while BK Mladá Boleslav prevailed against PSG Berani Zlín (3-2). Then the playoffs started… let’s have a look.
Bílí Tygři Liberec – BK Mladá Boleslav 4-1
Hradec Králové – HC Kometa Brno 0-4
HC Oceláři Třinec – HC Vítkovice Ridera 4-0
HC Škoda Plzeň – HC Olomouc 4-3
Kometa Brno and Oceláři Třinec had a walk in the park as they won overall 4-0 their series. Almost no problem also for Bílí Tygři Liberec, to whom it took only 5 games to prevail against BK Mladá Boleslav. On the other hand, Škoda Plzeň had to struggle as it took them 7 games to make it to the semifinals.
Bílí Tygři Liberec – HC Kometa Brno 4-2
HC Oceláři Třinec – HC Škoda Plzeň 4-3
Bílí Tygři Liberec won overall 4-2 against Kometa Brno, while Oceláři Třinec had a hard time against Škoda Plzeň and it took them 7 games to make it to the final.
Bílí Tygři Liberec – HC Oceláři Třinec 2-4
There were no surprises then until the final, considering that the two best teams of the Regular Season made it all the way and faced each other to win the title. Finally, Oceláři Třinec prevailed and therefore were crowned Czech Champions for the first time since 2011!
Here are the video highlights of the final game. A game decided by Vladimìr Roth’s 3-2 goal scored at approximately 3 minutes to the end.
To note that Martin Růžička of Oceláři Třinec was the playoffs leading scorer. Overall, he tallied 18 points in 17 games!
THE EXTRALIGA… A “DEMOCRATIC” LEAGUE
So, Oceláři Třinec won the title and are the 2018-19 Czech Champions. The Třinec’s based team win put to an end the series of HC Kometa Brno who won the title two times narrow previously… but don’t be fooled by that, because the Extraliga is an extreme democratic league!
Suffice it to say that 14 teams won the title at least once this century. We’re talking about, in random order… Energie Karlovy Vary (2009), HC Bílí Tygři Liberec (2016), HC ČSOB Pojišťovna Pardubice (2012), HC Eaton Pardubice (2010), HC Hamé Zlín (2004), HC Kometa Brno (2017, 2018), HC Moeller Pardubice (2005), HC Oceláři Třinec (2011, 2019), HC Škoda Plzeň (2013), HC Slavia Praha (2003, 2008), HC Sparta Praha (2000, 2002, 2006, 2007), HC Verva Litvínov (2015), PSG Zlín (2014) and VHK Vsetín (2001).
We mean, quite different compared to our National League, where only 4 teams (Bern, ZSC Lions, Davos and Lugano) were able to win the title in the last 21 seasons.
TRIVIA – THE PLAYERS WHO PLAYED IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE IN THE PAST
It happens that a player or a coach who was in our National League is now in the Czech Extraliga.
Therefore, let’s have a look at how “our” former players have been doing during the 2018-19 Extraliga.
Michal Birner (HC Bílí Tygři Liberec, former HC Fribourg Gottéron)
Michal Birner played over 100 games in our National League with the jersey of Fribourg Gottéron. In fact, he even started this season with the Dragons before transferring to the HC Bílí Tygři Liberec where he collected 49 appearances and tallied 41 points (16 goals). Well, what a lucky transfer that was for him… Fribourg Gottéron missed the playoffs in Switzerland while Birner helped his new team to make it to the final. To note that Michal Birner finished the playoffs as the third best scorer with 7 goals and 6 assists.
Petr Sykora (Dynamo Pardubice, former HC Davos)
Peter Sykora played 4 seasons in Davos and helped the team a lot. Right now, Petr is 40 years old but he still plays for the Dynamo Pardubice where he’s even the assistant captain. Dynamo missed the playoffs but then secured their place in the Extraliga. Sykora for his part, collected overall 48 appearances and made it 21 times into the scoresheet (10 goals).
Jaroslav Hlinka (HC Sparta Praha, former EHC Kloten)
Jaroslav Hlinka is now 42 years old but he doesn’t give up… until last season, he played for Sparta Praha and this season played with HC Vrchlabi (third tier of Czech hockey). However, he had the chance to play a couple of games also in the Extraliga with Sparta Praha… overall, he collected 9 appearances (4 during the playoffs qualifying) and tallied 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist). We recall the he did a strong job in Kloten between 2002 and 2006, when he played 129 games and tallied more than 1 point on average per game.
Radek Smolanek (HK Hradec Králové, former SC Rapperswil-Jona Lakers)
Radek Smolanek joined Rapperswil earlier this season and played 7 games during which he tallied 2 points. Then he transferred to Hradec Králové and things went better for him… his new team lost at the quarterfinals stage against Kometa Brno after that had finished the Regular Season 4th placed. Anyway, Radek collected 42 appearances and tallied 34 points (12 goals).
Radek Duda (Piráti Chomutov, former SCL Tigers and EHC Basel)
Maybe not many of you remember that Radek Duda played 10 games with Langnau and 16 games with Basel during the 2007-08 season. Anyway, this season he played with the Piráti Chomutov… his team missed the playoffs and even got relegated. Radek collected overall 58 appearances and tallied 32 points (10 goals).
YOU SHOULD LOVE THE EXTRALIGA
To conclude this article, we propose you some videos of the Extraliga. You should love each hockey league in the world… the Extraliga included, because it’s fun and exciting!
We’ll talk again about Czech hockey, if we still exist, in late summer… when we’ll present you the 2019-20 season!