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Practice Report

Notebook: Team Czech Republic hasn't chosen goalie

Decision between goaltenders Michal Neuvirth, Petr Mrazek coming Friday

by Michael Langr / Correspondent

TORONTO -- Team Czech Republic has yet to decide whether Petr Mrazek or Michal Neuvirth will start in goal for its first game of the World Cup of Hockey 2016, against Team Canada at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; ESPNEWS, SN, TVA Sports).

"We haven't decided yet," Team Czech Republic general manager Martin Rucinsky said Thursday during World Cup Media Day. "But I think we are in a comfortable situation here because both goalies have been performing very well and both seem to be in a great shape. It's pleasant dilemma to have those two options."

Neuvirth stopped all 25 shots he faced during the first 30:15 of Team Czech Republic's 3-2 victory against Team North America in a pretournament game at Consol Energy Center Pittsburgh on Wednesday, and allowed one goal on 46 shots in his two games. Mrazek allowed four goals on 28 shots in a 4-3 loss against Team Russia last Thursday, and gave up two goals on 19 shots in 29:45 when he relieved Neuvirth against Team North America.

Video: Czech Republic revving up to face a stacked Group A

Team Czech Republic assistant coach Vinny Prospal said the goalies will be told Friday who will start against Team Canada.

"We still have to make this decision and it's still not done, because both kids kind of spun our heads with how they've been performing," Prospal said. "We have to pick the right one and it's an important decision."

Mrazek doesn't have a problem with waiting for the decision.

"Totally fine," he said. "The tournament is short. It doesn't matter who is in goal for the first game or the second game. It's about us playing well as a team."

SOBOTKA EXPECTED TO PLAY: Forward Vladimir Sobotka, who did not play in the last two pretournament games because of a shoulder injury sustained in the pretournament opener against Team Russia, practiced at MCC Lakeshore Arena in Toronto on Thursday and is expected to play against Team Canada on Saturday.

"He had a good practice without any limits," Prospal said, "and we strongly believe he will be ready Saturday."

Video: CZE@NAT: Neuvirth denies MacKinnon in close

DISCIPLINE FIRST: The biggest issue for Team Czech Republic in its 3-2 pretournament victory against Team North America on Wednesday was lack of discipline. Team Czech Republic took eight minor penalties and gave up a power-play goal.

"We have to stay out of the box," forward Jakub Voracek said. "There were too many mistakes on the blue line and too many penalties. We have to be aware of that because, especially next time against Canada, it could cost us the entire game."

"We got into trouble mainly because of those penalties," forward Milan Michalek said. "It's tough for some players to keep up the tempo through the entire game when we have so many penalties, especially for the [penalty killers]. But the entire team loses the rhythm because of that and you could see it [Wednesday].

"We have to avoid those penalties. And if we do that and stay with our system, we have a fair chance for a good result against Canada."

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