Czechs rely on network equipment manager for Olympic training

BEIJING (AFP) – Peter Solan recently played a goal in the Czech third division 12 years ago. Now device…

BEIJING (AFP) – Peter Solan recently played a goal in the Czech third division 12 years ago.

Now equipment manager for the Czech national team, the goalkeeper was the only goalkeeper on the ice for pre-Olympic practice on Tuesday as more than half of the roster had not made it to Beijing yet. Like Jaromir Jäger, he will not be added to the list, but the players and coaches are happy to have Solan.

“I don’t know if I could just ask him to give the players drinking water and then jump into the net,” Czech coach Philippe Besan said. “I don’t think it will happen.”

The Czechs wonder what their situation in the net will look like, as goalkeepers Patrik Bartosak, Simon Hrubek and Roman Weil have faced COVID-19 testing issues back home.

“These guys tested positive, they contracted Covid two or three weeks ago, so we were sure these guys were ready for the tournament,” Besan said. “We are still sure they are ready and will pray for them to come.”

The Czechs train with only 10 skiers and Solan, which is in fact their largest group since their arrival in China. This is due to a combination of positive virus test results and the Czech League continuing to play matches this week.

“Finally we can play 5v5 in the area,” Bessan said. “It’s the first time in the past three weeks we’ve had this opportunity.”

Players had someone they could shoot because of Pesan, who, at 39, can still fill up over a decade since his pads hung. Bisan hopes to have one of the team’s guards on the ice to train on Wednesday but plans to use Solan again.

“He’s very good,” said striker Lukas Sedlak, who was one of the new additions to the training. “He is doing a good job. I hope we have a goalkeeper tomorrow. I usually score more goals than the average goalkeeper, so I will be happy.”

Bisan will be delighted when the goalkeepers on the list pass their tests and make it to the ice in Beijing. Former NHL forwards David Krejci and Michael Frolik should be with the squad later this week as well.

The only player who will not join is Jagr, the face of Czech hockey for the past three decades who is still playing and is on the cusp of his fiftieth birthday. Jagr still plays for Kladno, the team he owns in the Czech Republic, but is ineligible to go to Beijing because he was not among the pool of players offered by the federation.

“He’s not on our long list, which is why we can’t ask him to come in,” Besan said.

The Czechs opened the tournament on February 9 against Denmark.

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