Match of the 50th round of the hockey extra league: Mountfield Hradec Králové – BK Mladá Boleslav, February 26, 2023, Hradec Králové. From left, Mladá Boleslav assistant coach Václav Pletka and Mladá Boleslav coach Jiří Kalous.
Mladá Boleslav – Coach Jiří Kalous, after coming to the Mladá Boleslav hockey players in January, fulfilled the basic goal in the extra league in the form of advancing to the knockout stages, and now he has the task of leading the Skating Club from the preliminary round to the main part playoffs. Coincidentally standing in the way of the team is the team that the experienced coach led last season – Kometa Brno. But Kalous believes that Mladoboleslav can compete with any opponent, as he stated in an interview with journalists.
The season of the ambitious Central Bohemian club was unconvincing to say the least after a good start. Embarrassment was caused by unsuccessful performances and results, also because Mladá Boleslav finished fourth in the previous two seasons. And even after Kalous came on as a substitute following the dismissal of Ladislav Čihák, to whom the management reached out at the end of the year, the road to improvement was not easy.
“I arrived in the middle of January and I have to say that the mental state of the team was not exactly optimal. The team was at the bottom of the table and there was always a question mark as to whether we would even be able to win the preliminary round. When you play well and lose games by a goal , after extra time or raids, it always affects the team in some way,” stated Kalous.
“Together with my colleagues, we tried to create a positive atmosphere, to believe in ourselves more, to be strong on the puck and to have faith that it is up to us how we will play, and not to the opponent. I think it changed little by little over time and the boys started to allow themselves more in the game. In the end we managed it all and that's very important for us. It's definitely a big boost for the boys, we'll go into the playoffs now with a clear head and I believe we'll be a very unpleasant opponent for anyone.” Kalous said.
He admitted, however, that in the basic part, the performance of his charges was practically skeletal until the end. “We played very good matches, but also those that didn't go our way. There were also matches that were very good, but they didn't turn out as good. One of the main problems was without a doubt the ending. We had a lot of chances, but ours the pain, as far as their transformation is concerned, was often reflected in the final result as well. But I believe that we will gradually improve the pressure on the goal and the good screening by the goalkeeper. And maybe with that spice, that is, that we will score more goals,” wished Kalous.
In the last three matches, however, the skaters scored three wins and scored a total of ten goals in regular time. “I think it's definitely helped us. We've played good teams and we've proven that we can beat them. It'll definitely help the guys' confidence,” Kalous said.
On the way to the quarterfinals, the Central Bohemians need to overcome the pitfalls of the preliminary round against Kometa from Brno, a team that also fell short of expectations. “Obviously I know the team well and we all know they are very strong. They are even stronger in the playoffs and at home the fans are really like a sixth player for them. People there can create an incredible environment, but I think just like for at home, it's good for the opposing team as well. That stormy atmosphere will excite the home players and the opponents. I trust that it will be true in our case as well, and that atmosphere will motivate us to perform even better. We'll see how it all turns out.”
He does not attach much importance to the mutual matches in the regular season, in which the Skaters did not leave a single point to the South Moravians. “I think this is going to be erased. It won't have anything to do with the series. Comet has a lot of experienced players who have a lot of playoff battles behind them. We can't afford to underestimate any little thing and we have to prepare to have a chance to succeed ,” emphasized Kalous.
Captain Stránský believes in correcting the season, but warned against the strength of Brno
The Mladoboleslav ice hockey players defeated their upcoming opponent in the playoff hurdle in the regular part of the extra league in all their matches, but in an interview with journalists, captain Jan Stránský urged vigilance before the start of the series with Kometa Brno on Wednesday. The skaters advanced to the knockout stage from tenth place and are eager to improve the impression of the season so far, as they managed to do a year ago, when they finally reached the semi-finals from the preliminary round.
Mladá Boleslav is even defending its participation in the semi-finals from the previous two seasons. While in the 2020/21 year the Skating Club entered the playoffs from third place after the regular season, last year it occupied eleventh place in the final table. And after a good start to the current season, the team was unable to avoid lackluster performances this time either.
“So far, they are basically identical seasons, it's similar to the last one. Paradoxically, in the end, we ended up one place better (than a year ago). But I don't want to talk about any parallels, we can only talk about that at the end of this season. We'll see , how we will kick off on Wednesday and whether we will bring any victory from Brno. We are going to grab it – match by match,” Stránský declared determinedly.
Mladoboleslav did not leave Brno with a single point during the regular season. “We beat them four times, but I don't want to think about it at all or talk about it, because then it can only lead to a kind of levity, which doesn't bring anything good,” emphasized Stránský.
“Now it will be something completely different. I would leave the matches we played with Komet in the regular season behind us. That is in the past. I think that even they do not have the staff to go from the sixth position according to their names. I think they would they should have been a little higher. But even that shows how balanced everything is. In my opinion, the Extraliga has improved a lot. We will fight for every substitution, every minute on the ice and every game,” said Stránský.
< p>He is looking forward to the atmosphere that accompanies the playoff matches. The one usually created by the audience in Brno tends to be extraordinary. “It's probably going to be hell, but I like it. I like it when the stadiums are full. I think that for every boy – especially the young ones – it's an experience that you remember in a positive way. But it's usually great here too . Hopefully it will be sold out,” noted Stránský.
The Central Bohemians finished on a winning streak. “If we had to take something positive into the playoffs, it would definitely be our finish, when we won the last three games,” said Stránský, whose team at times was in very real danger of not even making it to the preliminary round.
“After the match with Hradec Králové (in the 50th round), everything fell off us a bit, when we already knew that we would play in the preliminary round. It's also not entirely possible to judge from the last two matches, when we played with teams that didn't quite match where to move, but it's certainly better if we won them than if we didn't succeed in them,” concluded Stránský.