Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Bokroš finalises Slovakia Under-18 squad

Richard Sabol will be the go to guy for Slovakia
Photo: Majo Srnik
Tomorrow sees the start of the Division 1A World Under-18 Championships in Piešťany, and sees the start of Slovakia's attempt to reclaim their place in the top division following their relegation last year. After two warm up games with Belarus, where the teams shared victories, Slovakia have cut down their squad from 28 to a final 23, with the coaching staff hoping that this will be the team to do the job.

The final roster is as follows:

Netminders: Richard Sabol (HC '05 Banská Bystrica), Patrik Romančík (HK 36 Skalica), Denis Godla (HK Spišská Nová Ves)

Defenseman: Jakub Predajnianský (HC '05 Banská Bystrica), Patrik Luža, Michal Valjent (both HC Slovan Bratislava), Tomáš Rusina (MHC Mountfield Martin / MHK D. Kubín), Richard Buri (HC Nitra), Ľubomír Dinda (HK ŠKP Poprad), Peter Šohajda (HK 36 Skalica), Denis Šimek (HK Trnava)

Forwards: Mário Lunter, Eduard Šimun (both HC '05 Banská Bystrica), Stanislav Horanský, Dominik Rehák (both MsHK Žilina), Marko Daňo, Patrik Koyš, (both HK Dukla Trenčín), Milan Kolena (HC Mountfield Martin), Daniel Rzavský (HC Nitra), Dávid Gríger (HK ŠKP Poprad), Dávid Šoltés (HC Košice), Martin Reway (HC Sparta Praha/Czech Republic), Matej Paulovič (Färjestad BK/Sweden).

The players who didn't make the cut are defencemen Martin Chrkavý (Topoľčany) and Martin Kečkeš (Falu/Sweden), whilst forwards Tomáš Paleček (MsHK Žilina), Ján Blaško (HK Dukla Trenčín) and Denis Šimurka (EHC Linz/Austria) will miss out on a place in the final squad.

Bokroš, the head coach of both the Under-18 and Under-20 programs, was pragmatic in his interview with SZLH yesterday (link). "We've had a year-long preparation, in which we played five tournaments and tried 51 players. We have done the maximum to ensure the team is the best available. I believe that we are mentally and physically prepared to handle the challenge. A difficult task awaits us over the next seven days. We must win five games. We know about it and we have to handle it."

Marko Daňo impressed with the Under-20's.
Photo: Peter Kapusta (KITA)
The squads strengths lie in its forwards and netminding, however, the defence looks a bit thin on the ground. The only players ranked by the ISS for the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry draft are defencemen Patrik Luža and Richard Buri  who are ranked 80th and 94th respectively among European skaters, whilst Žilina forward Stanislav Horanský is ranked 120th in the same category. In goal for the Slovaks will more than likely be Richard Sabol, who was the third goaltender for the Under-20 team in the World Junior Championships in the winter, and has had a very promising year for Banská Bystrica in the Under-20 domestic league. The only other player who represented Slovakia U-20 in Alberta was forward  Marko Daňo, who was one of the finds of the tournament, as the 17 year old, originally used in a fourth line role, found himself on the first line for the final game against the Czech Republic, and scored in the game against Finland. Daňo, draft eligible in 2013, has spent a lot of his season with the Dukla Extraliga team, scoring 10 points in 32 Slovak Extraliga games, whilst also tallying three points in the playoffs, where his side were eliminated by Slovan Bratislava.

There are a number of exciting forward prospects for Slovakia who are draft eligible in 2013, with the biggest name being Martin Reway. A member of the "'95 group", Reway has made the switch to the Czech Republic and is currently a member of the Sparta Praha youth program, where he has excelled at the Under-18 level. Reway scored two goals in Slovakia's 5-3 win over Belarus on Sunday, and he looks set to be a star of the tournament. However, two other members of the same year group have struggled in their pre-tournament form.  Matej Paulovič and 16 year old Patrik Koyš were both on the bubble when it came to the final cuts, but they managed to make the squad. Both played on the fourth line for Slovakia in the pre-tournament games, and have not shown their best form as of yet. Paulovič, who scored 28 points in 17 J18 Elit games for Färjestad this year has a mix of size and pace which could make him a very exciting prospect for NHL scouts next year, whilst Koyš, who was a point per game in the Slovakia U-20 league as a 16 year old, has looked out of sorts with the national team so far. 

The tournament begins on the 11th of April, and anything but promotion will be a huge failure for the program, and could see a number of top prospects lose potential draft status by not playing against the worlds best juniors only a couple of months before the draft.

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