The Czech Extraliga is the top-level professional ice hockey league in the Czech Republic. It was established in 1993 following the peaceful separation of Czechoslovakia, and has since become one of the most competitive and popular leagues in Europe. The league consists of 14 teams, with each team playing 52 games during the regular season.
The Czech Extraliga is known for its fast-paced, physical style of play, and is home to some of the best ice hockey players in the world. The league has a rich history, with many legendary players and teams having made their mark over the years. The league also boasts a passionate fan base, with fans packing arenas across the country to cheer on their favorite teams.
Origins of Czech Extraliga
The Czech Extraliga is the highest-level ice hockey league in the Czech Republic. It was created in 1993 following the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia midway through the 1992-93 Czechoslovak Extraliga season, which all Slovak and Czech teams played to completion.
Like many European nations, Czech ice hockey has its origins in a similar ice sport called bandy. In the early 20th century, however, “Canadian-style” hockey started becoming more popular, bandy clubs started converting to ice hockey clubs, and Bohemia became a charter member of the International Ice Hockey Association in 1908.
The Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League was formed in 1936, and it quickly became one of the strongest leagues in Europe. The league was interrupted by World War II, but it resumed in 1945 and continued until the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993.
After the split, the Czech Republic and Slovakia each formed their own ice hockey leagues. The Czech Extraliga was created to replace the Czechoslovak Extraliga and has since become one of the strongest leagues in Europe. The league’s season usually takes place between September and April and features 14 teams.
Format and Structure
The Czech Extraliga is the highest-level ice hockey league in the Czech Republic. The league currently consists of 14 teams, with the top 12 teams at the end of the regular season qualifying for post-season play to determine the national champion.
The regular season consists of 52 games, with each team playing each of the other 13 teams four times. The top six teams at the end of the regular season qualify directly for the quarter-finals, while the teams finishing seventh to tenth compete in play-in series to determine the remaining two quarter-finalists.
The teams finishing eleventh to fourteenth compete in a play-out group, with the two lowest-ranked teams at the end of the play-out group being relegated to the Chance Liga, the second tier of Czech ice hockey.
The playoffs consist of quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals, with each round being a best-of-seven series. The winner of the finals is crowned national champion.
In addition to the playoffs, there is also a wild card round, which takes place after the regular season and before the playoffs. The teams finishing third to sixth in the regular season compete in the wild card round, with the winners advancing to the quarter-finals.
Teams and Locations
The Czech Extraliga consists of 14 teams from various cities in the Czech Republic. Each team plays 52 games, playing each of the other thirteen teams four times.
Here are the teams and their locations:
- HC Kometa Brno: Brno
- HC Sparta Praha: Prague
- HC Pardubice: Pardubice
- HC Karlovy Vary: Karlovy Vary
- Rytíři Kladno: Kladno
- HC Oceláři Třinec: Třinec
- Mountfield HK: Hradec Králové
- HC České Budějovice: České Budějovice
- HC Plzeň: Plzeň
- Bílí Tygři Liberec: Liberec
- HC Verva Litvínov: Litvínov
- HC Olomouc: Olomouc
- HC Zlín: Zlín
- HC Dynamo Pardubice: Pardubice
Some of these teams have a long history of success in the Extraliga. HC Sparta Praha has won the championship 20 times, while HC Kometa Brno has won it 7 times. Other teams, like Rytíři Kladno and HC Oceláři Třinec, have experienced success in recent years.
The teams are spread out across the country, with some located in major cities like Prague and Brno, while others are in smaller towns like Karlovy Vary and Litvínov. This geographic diversity adds to the excitement of the league, as fans from all over the country can support their local team.
Key Players and Statistics
The Czech Extraliga has seen many talented players over the years, including some of the top scorers and goaltenders in the league. If you’re looking to follow the league and keep up with the latest statistics, here are some key players to watch:
- Martin Růžička: Růžička is one of the top scorers in the league, with 28 goals and 22 assists in the 2021-2022 season. He plays for HC Oceláři Třinec and is a force to be reckoned with on the ice.
- Tomáš Vincour: Vincour is another standout player, with 20 goals and 21 assists in the 2021-2022 season. He plays for HC Kometa Brno and is known for his speed and agility on the ice.
- Dominik Hrachovina: Hrachovina is one of the top goaltenders in the league, with a save percentage of .939 in the 2021-2022 season. He plays for HC Sparta Praha and is known for his quick reflexes and ability to read the game.
Roman Polák: Polák is a veteran defenseman who has played in the NHL and KHL. He currently plays for HC Verva Litvínov and is known for his physical play and defensive skills.
- Jakub Škarek: Škarek is a young goaltender who plays for HC Verva Litvínov. He has a save percentage of .919 in the 2021-2022 season and is considered one of the top up-and-coming goaltenders in the league.
In addition to these key players, it’s also important to keep an eye on the league’s top scorers and goaltenders. The scoring leader for the 2021-2022 season was Tomáš Vincour, with 41 points. The top goaltender was Dominik Hrachovina, with a save percentage of .939.
The Czech Extraliga has a rich history of championships, with many teams vying for the coveted title each year. The league has been in existence since 1993, and since then, several teams have emerged as dominant forces in the league. Let’s take a look at some of the championship highlights from the past few decades.
The first decade of the Czech Extraliga saw a number of different teams win the championship. The first champions were HC Olomouc, who won the title in 1994. The following year, HC Sparta Prague won the championship, and they went on to win it again in 1997. Other champions from this decade included HC Petra Vsetin (1995), HC Zlin (1999), and HC Vitkovice (1998).
The 2000s saw a few teams dominate the league, with HC Sparta Prague and HC Pardubice winning the most championships. Sparta won the championship in 2000, 2002, and 2006, while Pardubice won in 2005, 2010, and 2012. Other champions from this decade included HC Znojmo (2003), HC Slavia Prague (2008), and HC Ocelari Trinec (2011).
In recent years, HC Kometa Brno has emerged as a dominant force in the league, winning four championships in a row from 2016 to 2019. HC Sparta Prague, HC Ocelari Trinec, and HC Mountfield have also won championships in the past few years.
The Czech Extraliga is recognized as one of the strongest ice hockey leagues in Europe by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). As of 2023, it is ranked as the fifth strongest league in Europe, behind the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Swedish Hockey League (SHL), Finnish Liiga, and Swiss National League.
Many Czech Extraliga players have gone on to play in the National Hockey League (NHL), including Jaromir Jagr, Dominik Hasek, and Martin Straka. The league also participates in the Champions Hockey League, a European-wide competition featuring the top club teams from various countries.
The Czech Extraliga has a strong rivalry with the Slovak Extraliga, which was created following the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993. Both leagues often compete against each other in international tournaments, such as the IIHF World Championships.
In addition to its domestic success, the Czech Extraliga has also produced successful teams in international competitions. HC Sparta Praha won the European Cup in 1999, and HC Verva Litvínov reached the finals of the Champions Hockey League in 2020.
League Names and Sponsorships
The Czech Extraliga, also known as Extraliga ledního hokeje (ELH), has undergone several name changes over the years. The league is leased to a general sponsor, which changes frequently. Here are some of the most notable names and sponsors in the history of the league:
- Staropramen Extraliga (1999-2000)
- Český Telecom Extraliga (2001-2002)
- Tipsport Extraliga (2003-2006)
- O2 Extraliga (2007-2010)
- Tipsport Extraliga (2010-current)
The current sponsor, Tipsport, has been the league’s primary sponsor since 2010. The league’s name changes have been a result of various sponsorships and leasing arrangements.
The league has also had a few secondary sponsors over the years. For example, during the 2019-2020 season, the league was sponsored by the Czech betting company Fortuna. The league’s official name during that season was “Tipsport Extraliga Fortuna”.
While the league’s name and sponsor may change, the quality of play remains high. The Czech Extraliga is considered one of the top ice hockey leagues in Europe, and many of its players go on to play in the NHL.
Media and Broadcasting
The Czech Extraliga is one of the most popular ice hockey leagues in Europe, and it has a significant following both in the Czech Republic and around the world. As a result, the league has attracted the attention of various media outlets and broadcasters, eager to showcase the top-level hockey played in the Czech Republic.
One of the most prominent broadcasters of the Czech Extraliga is Česká televize, the public television broadcaster of the Czech Republic. Česká televize broadcasts a number of Extraliga games throughout the season, providing fans with access to live games, highlights, and analysis. The network also streams games online, making it easy for fans to watch games on their computers or mobile devices.
In addition to Česká televize, the Czech Extraliga has also partnered with other broadcasters and media outlets to expand its reach. For example, the league has agreements with various cable and satellite providers in the Czech Republic, allowing fans to watch games on their TVs. The league also has partnerships with international broadcasters, such as Sport1 in Germany, to bring Extraliga games to a wider audience.
Other Leagues and Rankings
While the Czech Extraliga is the highest-level ice hockey league in the Czech Republic, there are also lower-tier leagues in the country. The Czech 1.liga, for example, is the second-highest level of professional ice hockey in the Czech Republic.
It features 14 teams and operates under the same promotion/relegation system as the Extraliga. The Czech 2.liga, on the other hand, is the third tier of ice hockey in the country.
Regarding international rankings, the Czech Extraliga is generally considered one of the top ice hockey leagues in Europe. In the 2020-2021 season, it was ranked as the fourth-best league in Europe by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) behind the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Swedish Hockey League (SHL), and Finnish Liiga.
The Extraliga has also seen some changes in its regulations over the years. For example, since the 2018-2019 season, the league has used a three-point system for regulation wins, where teams earn three points for a win in regulation and two points for a win in overtime or a shootout. Additionally, the league has implemented penalty shots in the regular season and playoffs to determine the winner of tied games.
Penalties are also a significant part of the game in the Czech Extraliga, and there are various types of penalties that can be called, such as minor penalties, major penalties, and game misconduct penalties. The league also has a strict disciplinary system, where players can be suspended for multiple games for certain types of infractions.
Overall, the Czech Extraliga is a competitive and well-respected ice hockey league, with a rich history and a strong following among fans in the Czech Republic and beyond.