This Czech lineup is very similar to the one that finished seventh – but was very close to reaching the semi-finals – at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship last August in Calgary and the one that won Olympic Qualification Group D in Chomutov last November.
“I have a smile on my face when I see girls who have been nominated,” said head coach Tomas Pacina. “It has been a long journey for Czech hockey. The journey, which began in small clubs around the country, went ambitiously through America or Sweden, where the girls have played and competed in the world of hockey.
“At the same time, I feel sad for the girls who worked and sacrificed their whole lives to get to the Olympics (but weren’t chosen). But it is part of the sport.”
This is the first time the Czech women have ever qualified for the Olympics and they’ve never finished better than sixth at a Women’s World Championship, so they are not a medal favourite by any means. However, the Czech women have won two bronze medals at the U18 level in 2008 and 2014 and this roster includes 14 players who were on one of those teams, including eight 1996-born players. As this core has matured on the senior women’s national team, they’ve become more and more competitive against the world’s elite teams. Last August, they lost a very close 1-0 game against defending silver-medalist Finland in the World Championship quarter-finals.
It is anchored in goal by 25-year-old Klara Peslarova, who has already proven herself as one of the elite female goalies in the world. Peslarova has been the Czechs’ starting netminder since the age of 17 and has been named the top goalie at two U18 Worlds and two Division I Group A World Championships.
Their defence includes a couple of more 25-year-olds who particularly like to contribute offensively, including playmaking Aneta Tejralova and Dominika Laskova, who can also play forward and led all defenders at last year’s Women’s Worlds with four goals in six games.
The offence of this team is still driven by Alena Mills who, at 31, is also the oldest player on the team and has been the captain for over a decade.
The biggest change from November is the addition of forward Tereza Vanisova, who missed the Olympic Qualifier due to a suspension in the SDHL, at the expense of Karolina Erbanova, who won a speed-skating bronze medal in 2018 in PyeongChang and was seeking to become a two-sport Olympian.
“The main reason why Karolina Erbanova is not nominated is the return of Tereza Vanisova and Michaela Pejzlova,” said Pacina. “Karolina helped us a lot, she is at the top of the list of substitutes, so she deserves admiration.”
Pacina added that Erbanova is at the top of the list of of players that will keep themselves ready to make a substitution if necessary due to COVID protocols, but he added that’s a complicated situation and didn’t want to get into the specifics.
As this is the first time Czechia has qualified for the Winter Olympics in women’s ice hockey, it will be the first Olympics for all 23 players.
The women’s tournament begins on 3 February, the day before the Opening Ceremonies, and concludes with the gold medal game on 17 February. In the two-tiered tournament the Czechs will compete in Group B along with host China, Sweden, Denmark and Japan. If they finish in the top three of the group, they will qualify for the quarter-finals against a Group A team.
Klara Peslarova, MODO Ornskoldsvik (SWE)
Viktorie Svejdova, MODO Ornskoldsvik (SWE)
Katerina Zechovska, Draci Bilina
Sara Cajanova, Bobri Valasske Mezirici
Pavlina Horalkova, Biryusa Krasnoyarsk (RUS)
Samantha Kolowratova, Brynas IK (SWE)
Dominika Laskova, Merrimack College, (NCAA)
Daniela Pejsova, MODO Ornskoldsvik (SWE)
Tereza Radova, Gothenburg HC (SWE)
Aneta Tejralova, SKIF Nizhny Novgorod (RUS)
Katerina Bukolska, Leksand IF (SWE)
Klara Hymlarova, St. Cloud State University (NCAA)
Denisa Krizova, Brynas IK (SWE)
Aneta Ledlova, SK Kadan
Alena Mills, KRS Vanke Rays (CHN)
Natalie Mlynkova, Vermont University (NCAA)
Katerina Mrazova, Brynas IK (SWE)
Noemi Neubauerova, Colgate University (NCAA)
Kristyna Patkova, Vermont University (NCAA)
Michaela Pejzlova, IFK Helsinki (FIN)
Vendula Pribylova, AIK Stockholm (SWE)
Lenka Serdar, Linkoping HC (SWE)
Tereza Vanisova, Leksand IF (SWE)