Champion Kometa Start Their Quest for a Three-peat
HC Kometa Brno will play at home on the following four Sundays as they begin their attempt to win three league titles in a row. Photo credit: Vit Novak.
Brno, Sept 14 (BD) — The first title was an overwhelming experience that took most fans by surprise. The second year was also too good to be true.
Now, as HC Kometa Brno prepare for the 2018-19 Tipsport extraliga season, the thought of a three-peat is not completely crazy — and fans are gearing up for another exciting and successful season.
After all, Kometa is the team that had streaks of four titles and then seven titles in the 1950s and 60s. And, as broadcaster Robert Zaruba proclaimed when Kometa won the most recent title this April: “Brno is the most hockey-dominant place in the Czech Republic!”
The Kometa season starts in Chomutov on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Then, the two-time-defending champions return to DRFG Arena to play Plzeň on Sunday at 5:20 p.m. Tickets, as always are hard to get, so you can watch the game on ČT Sport.
Kometa has won 13 titles, the most of any team in national history. It is more impressive to see the years listed, one after another: 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, and, most recently, 2017 and 2018.
Libor Zábranský, a former NHL and national team player who was born in Brno in 1973, took control of the club in 2005 and he has brought the team back to its glory days, serving as the owner, general manager and head coach.
The past two years, Kometa dominated the playoffs with 12-2 records, ending with a championship-series sweep of Liberec in 2017 and beating Třinec four games to one in the finals earlier this year.
The roster for this season has mostly familiar names, but some of the stalwarts from the championship runs have moved on.
Leoš Čermák, the 40-year-old veteran, has been with the team since 2011. He retains his patch as captain.
Martin Erat, 37, also is back in blue and white. He played in the NHL and was the captain of the 2018 Czech Olympic hockey team. In the last postseason he had five goals, including a legendary last-minute goal to win Game 3 of the semifinals. In the regular season, Erat had 12 goals and an astounding 34 assists.
Alexandre Mallet, 26, returns after leading the team last year with 15 goals and 13 assists. Martin Zaťovič (13 goals, 17 assists) and Martin Dočekal (10, 12) are also both back for another season.
A new face to keep an eye on is from the United States: 30-year-old Peter Mueller. He had five goals and two assists in five preseason games.
Some big names, however, are gone. Goalkeeper Marek Čiliak has left after six years between the pipes; he is now in the KHL with HC Slovan Bratislava. Tomáš Vincour, who played in the NHL, had 10 goals and 10 assists last year and is also gone.
Nineteen-year-old Martin Nečas played a significant role last year with four goals and three assists in the postseason. This year he is with the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League.
Kometa has already been playing this summer in the Champions League, where they are 3-1 in their group.
The beginning of the league season has Kometa at home for the next three Sundays as well, against Mlada Boleslav on Sept. 23; against Oceláři Třinec on Sept. 30 in a rematch of the most recent title series (also on ČT Sport); and against Karlovy Vary on Oct. 7.
There are 52 games in the regular season; Kometa will play each team four times, twice home and twice away. The top teams advance into the playoffs in March. The bottom four teams compete in a survival tournament, with the bottom two forced to play lower-league teams for the right to stay in the top league.
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