Training of the Czech hockey team before the Swedish Games, February 7, 2023, Prague. Pictured is coach Kari Jalonen.
Malmö (Sweden) – On Thursday, the Czech team will start the tournament of the Swedish Hockey Games, which is the third event of the Euro Hockey Tour series in the season, with a match against the Swedish team. Coach Kari Jalonen's men are second behind the Tre kronor team in the standings of the series by two points, but they came up empty in both duels against them. They will try to change it in Malmö, the match will start at 19:00.
Photo gallery: Hockey national team 2022/23
The Swedes put together a strong selection for the home tournament. Coach Sam Hallam has six players in his squad who have gold medals from world championships. He thus made it clear that the Northerners want to succeed on home soil and are not going to let anyone get ahead of them in the overall accounting of EHT.
“Of course we also want to win. And as we said before, we want to win every game, but in total after this tournament there will be approximately 60 players that we had in action during the season. And what is really important is how they perform in international confrontation. That's a priority for me, so that we can evaluate everything afterwards. We want to win, but that's quite logical – you don't go into matches wanting to lose,” said coach Jalonen.
“The Swedes they have some changes, but we think they won't change much systemically. We'll see what they can do with us, but we have to focus on our game again. We all want to succeed. The Swedes are at home, so they will have more support from the fans, but on we can't watch that,” assistant coach Libor Zábranský added.
With the approaching world championships in Finland and Latvia, the fight for a place in the nomination will intensify. “Although it seems that it is already a short time until the World Cup, anything can happen in hockey during that time. In any case, we expect enormous commitment from the boys, skating and we also want to see the system elements that we have been working on all the time. The boys have in any case, appetite, good mood and they try to fulfill everything we want from them in training. As coaches, we are satisfied,” praised Zábranský.
In both matches during the season, the Northerners had the upper hand. At the beginning of the Karjala tournament in České Budějovice, the Czechs lost 1:4, then even 0:4 at the Swiss Games. “They have a lot of experienced players on the roster. It will probably be a lot of skating on the wide rink, so I believe that we will get used to it quickly and beat the Swedes,” forward Jiří Smejkal believed.
“The Swedes have three lines from the Swedish league, they have now called up our most productive player Patrik Karlkvist. They play a similar system to us in Oskarshamn, so they are everywhere in five and help each other a lot. I think it will help if we transfer the game from one sides to the other. It will be played on a wide pitch, so we'll see how we can deal with it,” added another striker Hynek Zohorna.
The national team still trained at Hvězda today before flying to Malmö in the afternoon. Martin Erat, the second assistant, is already with the team. In terms of health, all the players are fine, and the possibility that fullback Vojtěch Mozík, who was ill, will join the team directly in Sweden looks promising. “It's hopeful. We'll still talk today, but maybe he could join us on Thursday and then play the weekend games,” explained team manager Milan Hnilička. a duel with Finland at noon and a match with Switzerland at the same time on Sunday.
The team trained in Prague consisting of: Kváča (Stezka) – Jordán, Zámorský, Kempný, J. Jeřábek, L. Zábranský Jr., Klok, Vála, Pýcha – H. Zohorna, Jan Kovář, Chlapík – Lakatoš, Sobotka, Smejkal – Hrabík, Jašek, M. Kovařčík – Flek, Černoch, O. Beránek – Flynn, Musil, Bambula.< /p>