The rest of the quarterfinals of the extra league will begin, Sparta will challenge Třinec in the rematch of the battle for the title

The rest of the quarterfinals of the extra league will begin, Sparta will challenge Třinec in the rematch of the battle for the title

The remaining extraliga quarterfinals will begin, Sparta will challenge Třinec in a replay of the battle for the title

Illustration photo – 24th round of the hockey extra league: HC Sparta Prague – HC Oceláři Třinec, November 29, 2022, Prague. From the left, Jakub Kovář from Sparta and Miloš Roman from Třinec.

Prague – On Sunday, the remaining two series of the quarterfinals of the hockey extra league playoffs will begin. A replay of last year's final battle will be offered by the match between Sparta and Třinec, and just like Prague, the hockey players of Hradec Králové will take part in this year's elimination battles for the first time. On Monday, the second duels are scheduled in Prague and under the White Tower, four victories are needed to advance.

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The remaining quarterfinals of the extra league will begin, Sparta will challenge Třinec in a replay of the battle for the title

The remaining extraliga quarterfinals will begin, Sparta will challenge Třinec in a replay of the battle for the title< /p>

The remaining extraliga quarterfinals will begin, Sparta in a replay of the battle for the title will challenge Třinec

The remaining extraliga quarterfinals will start, Sparta in Třinec will call for a replay of the title battle

Sparta has a lot to give back to the Steelers. They have reigned continuously since the 2018/19 season and managed to win three titles during that time. The 2019/20 season was ended prematurely due to problems with the coronavirus and did not finish. Last year, the people of Prague returned to the capital with a 1:1 score for the matches, but they did not take the lead in the series. That is why the wait for gold has continued since 2007. “Stopping Třinec is a challenge for the whole team. Not only for the coaches, but also for the players. We want to find a way through him, beat him and advance to the semi-finals,” said coach Miloslav Hořava for the club's website.

At the same time, he warned against the strength of the opponent, although Slezáné struggled with uneven performances in the regular season and finished sixth. “Třinec is almost the same team. The champion who won three times in a row. If anyone thinks that they had problems in the regular season and that they will be weaker… They won't be. They will be extremely strong. I don't want to say that they are the biggest favorite, but they are strong a team that knows how to play the playoffs. And they know how to play them. They are extremely confident because they know that they have always played well in the playoffs, which is important for the team,” Hořava said.

“We are excited, we feel good, we have trained well. You can feel the great energy. We respect the strength of each opponent, but we are healthy confident,” said forward Miroslav Forman, who has been associated with the club for a long time, but has yet to win a title with Sparta . “The goal is clear, I won't talk about it. No one who makes the playoffs goes into it thinking that they will advance to the semi-finals and that's it, that's certainly not the case. We all know what we want. The motivation to win is huge,” stated Forman.

Třinec already clearly showed in the preliminary round series against Litvínov (3:0 on matches) that he certainly has not forgotten the recipe for success. “Our players have their own experience. And this experience tells them that it is necessary to play a good system. When you take back several extra league champions, they all played a good defensive game. Titles are not won by an attacking system, they are won by quality and good defense,” he declared coach Zdeněk Moták.

He expects a very tough series. “Sparta is a club that scored 99 points in the regular season, they finished in third place. But at the same time, it is a big event socially, culturally, and especially sportingly. We will do everything to be as well prepared as possible for Sparta,” said Moták. “And that we start outside? It doesn't really matter, everyone wants to get points.”

Similar to Motáka, captain Petr Vrána also has a past with Sparta. “Sparta started playing excellently after the change of coach and I have the impression that they didn't lose many matches. They caught on. It won't be easy. We all know that they invested in the team again, brought quality players and have a balanced squad. It's a tough opponent. We won three times in a row and we don't want to be eliminated in the quarterfinals, even if the season was the way it was. Everyone wants to repeat the experiences associated with the title and wants to have the opportunity to fight for it again,” Vrána said.

The race between Hradec Králové and Liberec for fourth place attracted attention until the final round. In the end, the East Bohemians scored one more point. But it does not guarantee them anything at all until the quarter-finals, in which they have failed three times in a row and won one game out of 13 in these series. Two years ago, Mountfield's team was stopped by Liberec (4:0 per match), last year, surprisingly, by Mladá Boleslav.

“The basic part was one competition. How are we ready for the playoffs and what did we learn from last year , only the playoffs themselves will show that. The team has changed a bit compared to last year, we have ambitious guys here who will have the will to win. Hopefully we can finally move on,” wished coach Tomáš Martinec.

He praised the closest opponent for the preliminary round series with Pilsen. “We have a lot of respect for Liberec for how they managed to turn around the fifth game against Pilsen and still advance. The whole series was amazing and inspiring. All those games had a great pace. Liberec again showed how strong and experienced a team they are in the playoffs, full of great individuals,” Martinec said.

He suspects that the opponent will be a little better played thanks to the preliminary round. “It will be important for us to jump back into it as best as possible and as soon as possible after the break. We have a top team waiting for us and I think even a favorite. We will go into it with humility. It will be important to manage our emotions, because the discipline will decide. Who cares it can be successful. We just want to focus on our game,” stated Martinec.

But Liberec leaves the title of favorite to the opponent. “We'll be ready, I'm really looking forward to that series. It's always very difficult and exciting with Hradec. We've already managed to beat them in the series. Of course, Hradec is the favorite, but I think Pilsen tested us well; they play a very similar style to our next opponent. I expect another very balanced series,” said coach Patrik Augusta.

“To tell the truth, it seems to me that we play Hradec all the time. We have them in the playoffs almost every season. Then we have Sparta and it's complete,” goalkeeper Petr Kváča smiled when asked about the next goal. “But as I said before the series with Pilsen: if we want to go as far as possible, we have to beat everyone, no matter who is on the other side. We have to go into it with humility, be grateful for the fact that we managed to pass through Pilsen, and simply to fight,” added Kváča.

Program Generali Česká pojišťovna Tipsport extraliga play off:


Sunday 19 March – 1st matches:

14:00 HC Sparta Praha – HC Oceláři Třinec (O2 TV Sport),

16:40 Mountfield Hradec Králové – Bílí Tígři Liberec (ČT sport).

Monday 20 March – 2nd matches:

17:00 Mountfield Hradec Králové – White Tigers Liberec (O2 TV Sport ),

19:00 HC Sparta Prague – HC Steelers Třinec (ČT sport).