PRAGUE – For years the Czechs have waited for a new star player to step up and guide their national junior teams to success. The waiting might come to an end soon. Earlier this season, Russian born Dmitrij Jaskin was handed his Czech passport and he can’t wait to represent the country where he grew up in an official IIHF event.
After having starred for the Czechs with four goals and seven points from five games during the Ivan Hlinka tournament back in August/September, Jaskin was destined to make the U20 national team that played in Buffalo, USA. Unfortunately he suffered a knee injury late November which sidelined him for two months including the World U20 Championship.
Albeit being Russian, the name of Jaskin has been a household name for years in the Czech Republic. Alexej Jaskin, Dmitrij’s father, moved to the Czech Republic in 1983 and played for Czech’s most dominant team in the ‘90s; HC Vsetin. In total he would capture six league titles with the yellow brigade.
As for the youngest of the Jaskin clan, Young Dmitrij’s career is skyrocketing and he has already cemented a spot on a Slavia Prague team coached by the legendary Vladmir Ruzicka. In 33 regular season games he posted 7 assists and ten points and added three more points in the post season, where Slavia surprisingly reached the semi- finals as a seventh seeded team.
Ruzicka has already labeled him as the greatest Czech talent of his age group and wasn’t afraid to start him in the Extraliga. “It’s nice that Ruzicka has so much faith in him but we’re only at the beginning of Dmitrij’s career,” his father says wisely. “He knows what he wants to achieve and that he should refrain from some things to do so.”
One of the decisions he had to make was to focus solely on hockey. “Dmitrij has always been a gifted kid in sports,” Alexej explains. “Until he was 15 he was also playing tennis at the highest level. Then we reached a point in which I told him he had to make a decision as he could not continue focusing on both sports. “
The choice was not forced upon Dmitrij by his father but surely he must have liked that the decision fell on the game on ice. “I approached this as any father would do. I’m glad when he succeeds, regardless of the sport he had selected.”
Although he’s the youngest player in the league, Jaskin is quickly making a name for himself. He’s listed at already being almost 1.90m and boasts a 90 kg frame that does not look out of place in a men’s league.
It’s therefore no surprise that the Russian Federation would have liked him to suit up for the Russian junior team. Jaskin would have probably thought about it but made up his mind quickly.
“I am at home in the Czech Republic. I came to Vsetin when I was eight months and have lived here since, with some occasional visits to Russia,” the forward says. “Czech hockey has developed me into the player I now, so I was only interested in representing them.”
The choice got the approval of his father. “Dmitrij definitely has a better chance to succeed here than he would have in Russia.”
Nevertheless, Jaskin was selected first overall in the KHL Entry Draft by Sibir Novosibirsk, a rather exceptional feat for a non-Russian player. Although his KHL rights are now secured by the Siberian team it is far from certain that he’ll ever dress up for them. He is also ranked fifth in the NHL Central Scouting mid-term rankings for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft and favours the NHL over the Russian top league. “It’s nice to hear that I’m rated so high and one day I would like to play overseas,” says Dmitrij, “but current my focus is fully on playing for Slavia Prague. I wouldn’t have hoped even to make my debut already. To me this season has been a dream. A dream I hope to continue riding for a long time.”
The next target is right in front of Dmitrij Jaskin. In less than two weeks he will represent his country at the World U18 Championships in Germany where the Czechs face Sweden, Finland, Canada and Norway. It’s the ideal place to raise his stock even more after a sensational season.
- The Extraliga playoff final will see a local rivalry between Ocelari Trinec and Vitkovice Ostrava. Top seeded Trinec overcame a 3-1 deficit in their series against Slavia Prague while Vitkovice had less problems to deny reigning champions HC Pardubice; 4-1.
- For HC Vitkovice it marks the second straight time they reached the Extraliga playoff final. Last year they were swept by HC Pardubice. For HC Trinec the last time they had a chance to play for gold was 13 years ago when they eventually fell to HC Vsetin.
- After two games in the best-of-seven series, HC Trinec is leading comfortably 2-0. Still thrilled by clinching a finals spot two days before, Trinec took a 3-0 lead early in the second period to win the game 5-2. They had to wait longer in game 2 but eventually veteran Vaclav Varada rebounded home at 58:59 to break the deadlock for HC Trinec. Martin Adamsky doubled the lead with an empty netter forty seconds before the end of the game in which goaltender Peter Hamerlik posted a 25-save shut out.
- HC Trinec’s forward Martin Ruzicka has continued his good regular season form with him to the playoffs. In 15 games he has totaled 15 goals and 30 points to means a new Czech playoff record. The previous record was held by Zigmund Palffy back in 1992. With at least two more games to be played the final series, the 25-year old has plenty of opportunity to set the record even higher.
- While Trinec’ players occupy the top scoring charts, HC Vitkovice has the hottest goaltender of the post season in Roman Malek. In 13 games he recorded four shutouts and a save percentage of over 95%.