Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek is playing for Team Czech Republic at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. The 27-year-old has agreed to keep a diary throughout the tournament, which begins in Toronto on Sept. 17 and runs through Oct. 1.
In his latest installment, Voracek talks about Team Czech Republic's trip to North America, good results in the three pretournament games, and the team's confidence despite being considered an underdog.
TORONTO -- After three pretournament games, we are in Toronto and we feel we're ready for the World Cup of Hockey 2016. The 3-2 win against Team North America on Wednesday in Pittsburgh was certainly a boost for us. There were some negative things in our game that we have to work on but also a lot of positives. The game was at the top level of hockey, very fast and against really skilled players.
Some people might be surprised we won two of three pretournament games, but I am not. I knew from the beginning of training camp that we had a good team. Our practices were great, we've played an up-tempo style, and when our opponents pressured us our goalies were strong for us. We scored power-play goals in two games, our penalty kill was good. Those are the positives.
Video: Voracek interview video
The biggest issue, in my opinion, is that we have to stay out of the penalty box. There were too many mistakes on the blue line and too many penalties Wednesday against Team North America. When you have six or eight penalties in a game against such a strong opponent, you let them get back into the game pretty easily. We have to be aware of that because, especially Saturday in our opener against Team Canada (8 p.m. ET; ESPNEWS, SN, TVA Sports), it could cost us the entire game.
It's been a couple of days since we came to North America from Europe and I think we've had no problem adjusting. The acclimatization was probably the best from what I've experienced after the last couple of years when flying from Europe. The flight was very comfortable. We now have one game behind us, and we still have a couple of days to get used to the time difference and everything, so I guess we'll be all right Saturday.
In Pittsburgh we went to a big team dinner. You can't have team dinners every night, but anyway we are always together with the guys and every day we go to get dinner with a big group of guys.
I've been to a lot of international tournaments, but here I feel we have a great bunch of guys, one of the best. There are many young guys on our team, and there is a lot of fun in the locker room. We don't panic when things don't go exactly our way. Guys are calm and there are no disagreements at all. That's an important thing before the start of the tournament.
The preparation before the games has gone smoothly and easily. We know what we have in our locker room, although it's maybe just us who know it because the media isn't giving us much of a chance.
On the other hand, all we have to go on are pretournament games. The World Cup itself will be something different. If we won three exhibition games and lost all three games in the tournament, no one would ever remember those wins. But it's good that we have something we can build on.
Players will have their families or friends here, and it's great that we'll have their support right here. My parents are coming with my niece, and I believe they will have a lot of fun. I probably won't have much time to do tourist things with them because I sleep a lot in the afternoon. After lunch I usually need to get a nap, so there's no sightseeing time for me. But we all can't wait until the World Cup starts, and I'm very much looking forward to it.
We'll play for our country against the best players in the world in Toronto. What can be bigger than that?