Match of the 32nd round of the hockey extra league: White Tigers Liberec – HC Škoda Plzeň, December 28 in Liberec. From the left, Filip Suchý, Michal Houdek both from Pilsen and Oscar Flynn from Liberec.
Prague – Four series of preliminaries of the hockey extraleague playoffs will start today, from which the remaining quarter-finalists will emerge. Liberec will welcome Pilsen under Ještěd, defending champion Třinec will face Litvínov, Brno will challenge Mlada Boleslav and Olomouc will face Karlovy Vary. You need to win three times to advance. The second matches are scheduled at the same stadiums on Thursday.
Liberec only narrowly lost the race with Hradec Králové for fourth place, which guaranteed the last direct advance to the quarterfinals. “Of course, it's a shame that we didn't make it to the top four by a little bit. But we can't think about that anymore. We need to thoroughly prepare for Pilsen. We've already set up such a playoff mode for the last matches. We want to present ourselves with our game and continue the successful the performances we've been showing in recent matches,” defender Michal Ivan declared.
“All series in the playoffs are challenging. Pilsen has a very fast and skating team and we will prepare for it like any other opponent,” added coach Patrik Augusta, whose team closed the long-term phase of the competition with a streak of nine wins.
< p>The Indians, on the other hand, ended up in a completely opposite mood. Plzeň has been striving for victory for the same amount of time and has lost only one point in these nine matches. That is also why the Škoda team fell to twelfth place. “It's no longer worth messing about. A completely different competition is starting. The boys know what they're playing for, it's actually a week that can decide whether the season is successful or not. We want them to think only about Liberec and the matches that will come. In the season, they verified that despite the up-down results, you can play with everyone. We believe that they have it in their heads and they know it. It will be about the little things and also the luck that the team needs,” he said for club website coach Petr Kořínek.
“How do we want to break it, we don't play relaxed. But everything is changing now and maybe we will succeed in the first match. But we can't predict anything ahead. Liberec is of course the favorite, but now it's starting again from scratch. We won't let them do it cheaply and we'll fight for it . We will look at some cuts and prepare for them in such a way that we will torment them and win,” said experienced striker Tomáš Mertl.
Třinec finished sixth, and he will play for his fourth consecutive triumph after a golden hat-trick. Even the Steelers did not reach the end of the regular season in optimal comfort and won only four of the last sixteen matches. “The playoffs are a completely different competition. I believe that we guys are in the playoffs. We went through those struggles and we will want to continue, but we will go into it humbly. Litvínov is a tough opponent. But every team in the league is unpleasant. We'll see what they come up with. It's mainly up to us to prepare,” emphasized forward Martin Růžička.
“We have better matches against each other, but three times the decision was made in extra time. Litvínov is also in solid form, in the last round they beat Olomouc 5:1. It's a tough opponent,” noted Třinec coach Zdeněk Moták.
Although Litvínov surpassed Třinec in the season's head-to-head matches only at the fourth attempt, when he recently won 4:3 at home after raids, but at the end of the regular season, the Verva players were in excellent form and succeeded six times in a row. “We are in shape and Třinec is not at its best. I think they are not in an ideal state of mind. We are going into the playoffs with the intention of surprising and leaving everything on the ice,” said forward Šimon Stránský.
Třinec considers it a very difficult juice to overcome. “Třinec will have the fact that they are not doing well at the moment and are under a lot of pressure because they will be defending the title. We can take advantage of that and just surprise them,” believed Stránský. “Třinec is an extremely high-quality, offensively-tuned team that has enormous experience in the playoffs. Winning the title three times in a row is no accident. We will do everything to make the season as long as possible for us,” added coach Karel Mlejnek.
Brno eventually climbed to seventh place thanks to a successful fourth quarter. But against Mladá Boleslav, Kometa did not do well at all during the season. “We have lost to them four times. Boleslav has played in the semi-finals in recent seasons, which proves their quality. We are outsiders, but we want the cup, that is not out of the question,” said head coach Patrik Martinec.
“It is for us important that we start at home, especially when we are playing for three wins. We go step by step. We know where our goal is and we go after it. We have to show the opponent who is at home here,” said captain Martin Zaťovič. The balance of each other's matches does not scare him in any way. “I'm not interested in that at all, this is the playoffs, now I'm only seeing Wednesday's game. I don't feel more pressure, just responsibility to the people here and the fans,” added Zaťovič.
The skaters will be led into battle by coach Jiří Kalous, who led Brno last season. “Obviously, I know that team well and we all know they are very strong. They are even stronger in the playoffs and in their home environment the fans are really like a sixth player for them. they have very experienced players who have a lot of playoff battles behind them. We can't afford to underestimate any little thing,” warned Kalous.
Theoretically, the most balanced should be based on the position after the regular part of the series between eighth Olomouc and ninth Karlovy Vary. “They are an unpleasant opponent who skates a lot, so we will have to disrupt them in order to win. We have a 2:2 record with Energia this year, it will definitely be an even series,” predicted defenseman Lukáš Mareš, whose team has recently been struggling with an extensive slump . “It is unpleasant to get used to playing alongside someone else in every match, but we are professionals, so we should be able to deal with it,” said Mareš.
“Even before the last match, we knew that it would be Olomouc or Brno. It would be difficult for us to choose who is better or weaker. We want to advance further. The opponent defends a lot, they had a good time, even though they didn't have such a good end to the season. We feel OK. We're starting the series away from home, but it doesn't matter to us,” forward Petr Koblasa said.
Statistical data before the opening matches of the Extraliga preliminary round – March 8 and 9:
HC Oceláři Třinec (6th after the regular season) – HC Verva Litvínov (11th).
Starts: Wednesday 17:00 (CT sport), Thursday 17:00.
Head-to-head matches this season: 4:1, 2:1 in overtime, 3:2 in overtime, 3:4 in protracted (most productive players: Marko Daňo 5 goals + 1 assist – Matúš Sukeľ 1+3).
Balance of mutual matches in the extra league playoffs: 13 matches – 6 wins – 1 win in overtime or after separate raids – 0 losses in overtime or after separate drives – 6 losses – score 36:28.
The team's most productive players in the season: Martin Růžička 52 games/52 points (23 goals + 29 assists) – Šimon Stránský 46/40 (9+31).
Goalkeeper statistics in the season: Marek Mazanec average 2.07 conceded goals per match, success rate of interventions 92.11 percent and kept a clean sheet four times, Ondřej Kacetl 2.43 and 90.34 – Šimon Zajíček 2.64, 91.34 and kept a clean sheet once, Matej Tomek 1.81, 93, 06 and kept a clean sheet twice, Denis Godla 3.08 and 90.70.
– Třinec, which won the title in the last three completed seasons in 2019, 2021 and 202, won nine consecutive series in the playoffs. The last time he did not succeed in the final was in 2018, when he lost to Kometa Brno 1:4 on matches.
– Litvínov is bidding for his first participation in the quarter-finals since 2017. Since then, he has only been in the play-offs for the second time and was eliminated the year before in the preliminary round with Hradec Králové after a 0:3 defeat for the matches.
– Steelers have faced Litvínov twice in the playoffs so far. In 2011, they won 4-2 on their way to the premiership in the quarter-finals. Four years later, they lost the match 3:4 in the final, and Litvínov won the first ever gold medal.
– Třinec did not do well at the end of the regular season and won only four of the last 16 duels.
– The steel players lost four of the last five duels at home.
– At the end of the long-term competition, Litvínov won six times in a row and lost only three points.
– Třinec scored eight times in a row in mutual matches and from won it six times.
– Verva won twice in a row away from home after a series of four defeats.
– Striker Marko Daňo from Třinec can play his 100th game in the extra league.
– Slovakian assistant coach of Třinec Vladimír Országh led Litvínov as head coach in 2020 and 2021.
– Latvian defender Ralfs Freibergs (Litvínov) worked in Třinec at the end of the 2020/21 season and won the title with him.
White Tigers Liberec (5th) – HC Škoda Plzeň (12th).< /h4>
Starts: Wednesday 18:00, Thursday 19:00 (O2 TV Sport).
Head-to-head matches this season: 2:3 in extra time, 4:3 in extra time, 2:1 in overtime, 4:2 (Oscar Flynn 4+1 – Petr Zámorský 2+2).
Balance of mutual matches in the extra league playoffs: 12 8 0 0 4 41:35.
The team's most productive players in the season: Oscar Flynn 51/38 (22+16) – Petr Kodýtek 44/34 (15+19 ).
Goalkeeper statistics in the season: Petr Kváča 2.10, 92.53 and one clean sheet, Jakub Neužil 3.11, 90.09 and one clean sheet, Daniel Král 3.84 and 85.45 – Miroslav Svoboda 2.61, 91.99 and twice kept a clean sheet, Dominik Pavlát 2.63, 91.30 and twice kept a clean sheet.
– The White Tigers have not missed the quarterfinals since 2015, when they did not advance to the playoffs. Since then, in the six playoffs played, they have won the title once (2016), reached the silverware three times (2017, 2019 and 2021) and were eliminated twice in the quarterfinals. Last year it was after a 1:4 defeat against Sparta.
– Plzeň has been waiting for a winning streak in the playoffs since 2019, when it was eliminated only in the semifinals with Třinec and won bronze. In 2021, it was eliminated in the preliminary round with Olomouc (0:3 in matches) and last year with Mlada Boleslav (2:3).
– Liberec ended the regular season with nine wins and lost only four points in this series.
– The White Tigers won eight times in a row at home and lost to Pardubice 3:4 on January 13.
< p>– Plzeň has lost nine times in a row and won only one point. The last time they succeeded was on January 29, when they beat Sparta Prague 4:3 at home after separate raids.
– Škoda has lost seven times in a row away from home and last won away from home on January 20 in České Budějovice 4:3 in overtime.
– Liberec scored points in the last seven matches between them and won six of them.
– Liberec will face Pilsen in the play-off for the third time. In 2010 and 2017, he won 4:2 in the quarter-finals.
– Goalkeeper Miroslav Svoboda from Pilsen celebrates his 28th birthday today, and Swedish forward Ludvig Blomstrand turns 30 on Friday.
– The injured Pilsen captain Michal Bulíř worked in Liberec last season and was its most unproductive player, forward Kryštof Hrabík played in Liberec from 2016 to 2018 and again in the 2020/21 season.
– Liberec defender Lukáš Derner was a guest in Pilsen in the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons.
HC Olomouc (8th) – HC Energie Karlovy Vary (9th).
Beginnings : Wednesday 18:00, Thursday 18:00.
Head-to-head matches this season: 2:0, 2:3, 3:0, 3:4 (Jakub Orsava 1:3 – Martin Kohout 4+ 1) 31 (12+19).
Goalkeeper statistics in the season: Jan Lukáš 2.59, 91.41 and five clean sheets, Branislav Konrád 2.52, 90.13 and three clean sheets – Vladislav Habal 2.54, 90.69 and one clean sheet, Štěpán Lukeš 3.13, 90.18 and kept a clean sheet three times, Petr Hamalčík 4.50 and 85.00.
– Olomouc since 2018, it has missed the quarterfinals only last year, when it was eliminated in the preliminary round after a 2:3 defeat against Vítkovice.
– Karlovy Vary have been waiting to participate in the quarterfinals since 2009, when they won the title. Since then, they have been in the extra league play-off for the fourth time and were eliminated in the preliminary round three times – in 2011 with Slavia (2:3 on matches), the year before last with Pardubice (1:3) and last season with the same opponent (0:3).< /p>
– Olomouc lost six of the last eight matches and both wins during this period were achieved only in set-ups.
– Hanáci lost three times in a row at home and did not get a single point.
< p>– Karlovy Vary won only one of the past five duels.
– Energie has not scored twice in a row after two wins away.
– Karlovy Vary won four of the last seven matches.
– Defender Tomáš Dujsík from Olomouc worked in Karlovy Vary in the 2016 season/17 and forward Tomáš Rachůnek already in the 2014/15 season.
HC Kometa Brno (7th) – BK Mladá Boleslav (10th).
Beginnings : Wednesday 19:00 (O2 TV Sport), Thursday 18:00 (ČT sport).
Head-to-head matches this season: 2:3, 1:3, 3:7, 1:4 (Adam Destroyed 1+2 – David Šťastný 3+2).
Balance of mutual games in the extra league playoffs: they have not played together yet.
The team's most productive players in the season: Robert Říčka 48/47 (27+20) – Tomáš Vondráček 53/41 (21+20).
Goalkeeper statistics in the season: Dominik Furch 2.29, 92.61 and six clean sheets, Marek Čiliak 3.29, 90.17 and one clean sheet – Filip Novotný 2.21, 92.18 and four times kept a clean sheet, Gašper Krošelj 2.31 and 92.12, Marek Stuchlík 2.00 and 91.30.
– From 2017, Kometa did not miss the quarter-finals until last year, when they were eliminated in the preliminary round after a 2:3 defeat against Liberec. It won the title in 2017 and 2018 and was eliminated in the semifinals in 2019.
– Mladá Boleslav missed the quarterfinals last time in 2018, when it didn't even make it to the playoffs. In the past two seasons, they only crashed in the semi-finals at the championship Třinac.
– Kometa won three of the last four matches.
– The Brno team won six of the past seven duels at home.
– Mladá Boleslav won three times in a row and lost only one point.
– Skating club outside won three times in a row and lost only one point.
– Kometa in head-to-head battles with Mlada Boleslav four times in a row she didn't score points and last succeeded last year on February 1, when she won 2:1 at home.
– Two Kometa players have birthdays on Friday. Slovakian defender Marko Ďalog will be 34 years old and forward Eduard Šalé will turn 18.
– Forward Tomáš Šmerh from Mladá Boleslav has one game left to serve from a two-game disciplinary penalty for a foul on defender Petr Zámorský from Pilsen.
< p>– Defender Alex Lintuniemi from Mladá Boleslav can start his 100th match in the Czech extra league.
– Fullback Michal Gulaši from Kometa helped Mladá Boleslav back in the first league in the 2006/07 season from extraleague Vítkovice, another fullback Marek Hrbas played for the Skating Club from 2019 to 2021, and forwards Petr Holík from 2017/18 and Adam Zbořil from 2019 to 2021.
– Mladá Boleslav coach Jiří Kalous led Kometa last year.