Kelowna Rockets forward Gabriel Szturc has been named to Czechia’s roster for the upcoming 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship set to take place in Edmonton, Alta. next month.
Szturc missed just one game this past season, through 67 games the Cesky Tesin, CZE product only posted six penalty minutes.
Selected 44th overall in the first round of the 2021 CHL Import Draft, Szturc posted 41 points (16G, 25A) and a +12 plus/minus rating in his first season with the Rockets.
The 25-man roster includes four other Western Hockey League players: Tomáš Suchánek (Tri-City, WHL), Stanislav Svozil (Regina, WHL), Michal Gut (Everett, WHL), Martin Ryšavý (Moose Jaw, WHL).
Gut supports national teammate Pavel Novak’s cancer fight with charity stick auction
Rockets forward Pavel Novak was a member of the Czechia team at the tournament that was cancelled in January and was invited to attend Czechia’s summer selection camp. Novak announced last month that he will be stepping away from hockey for this season following a diagnosis. In his statement, Novak shared that he has been diagnosed with an oncological disease.
Everett Silvertips forward Michal Gut will be showing support for his friend and Czech national teammate Pavel Novak’s fight with cancer. He will be playing with specialty True sticks throughout the tournament that will later be auctioned off with proceeds from the auction benefitting the Ivan Hlinka Endowment Fund.
“We all know what happened to our friend,” Gut explained to Czech media. “I thought about it and wanted to somehow support him and help him…. We have known each other since the national team and we are good friends. I write to him almost every day. I have never seen a stronger person. He always stays positive and handles it well. I think he will win this tough match.”
Gut approached his stick manufacturer, True Sticks, to arrange the creation of special purple sticks for him to use at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton. His original intention was to auction the game-used sticks to directly assist in the payment of Novak’s medical bills, a gesture which Novak politely declined. The pair mutually agreed on a proper channel to donate the proceeds.
“I asked him if he would need the money,” Gut explained. “He told me no. So we agreed to donate them to Mrs. Hlinková’s foundation, which I had already called. She was very happy. She told me that people are generally not in a good financial position at the moment and little money is collected lately, so that will definitely help.”
The Ivan Hlinka Foundation helps hockey players and other hockey officials facing extenuating social and economic circumstances. Gut expressed that he hopes the gesture is the beginning of an outpouring of support for Novak.
Details of the auction will be released in the coming weeks.
The tournament was originally scheduled for Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. After four days of play, the tournament was postponed Dec. 29 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
The IIHF announced in March that the tournament would be rescheduled for August in Edmonton. Players who were eligible for the elite under-20 international tournament in December will remain eligible for the tournament in August, regardless of whether or not they have turned 20. Results and statistics from the December games will not count when the tournament begins.
Ten teams will play in the WJC. The United States will be in Group B for the preliminary round, along with Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Group A consists of Canada, Finland, Czechia, Slovakia and Latvia. Latvia was added to replace Russia.
The top four teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals, which will be held Aug. 17. The semifinals are Aug. 19, and the championship and third-place games will be Aug. 20.
There will be no relegation round, meaning the same 10 teams will play in the 2023 WJC, which will be held Dec. 26-Jan. 5, 2023 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick.
2022 WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Czechia vs. Slovakia, 2 p.m. ET
Latvia vs. Finland, 6 p.m. ET
United States vs. Germany 10 p.m. ET
Sweden vs. Switzerland, 2 p.m. ET
Latvia vs. Canada, 6 p.m. ET
Germany vs. Austria, 10 p.m. ET
Finland vs. Czechia, 2 p.m. ET
Slovakia vs. Canada, 6 p.m. ET
Switzerland vs. United States, 10 p.m. ET
Austria vs. Sweden, 2 p.m. ET
Slovakia vs. Latvia, 6 p.m. ET
Austria vs. United States, 2 p.m. ET
Canada vs. Czechia, 6 p.m. ET
Germany vs. Switzerland, 10 p.m. ET
Finland vs. Slovakia, 2 p.m. ET
Czechia vs. Latvia, 6 p.m. ET
United States vs. Sweden, 10 p.m. ET
Switzerland vs. Austria, 2 p.m. ET
Canada vs. Finland, 6 p.m. ET
Sweden vs. Germany, 10 p.m. ET
Quarterfinal 1, 12 p.m. ET
Quarterfinal 2, 3:30 p.m. ET
Quarterfinal 3, 7 p.m. ET
Quarterfinal 4, 10:30 p.m. ET
Semifinal 1, 4 p.m. ET
Semifinal 2, 8 p.m. ET
Third-place game, 4 p.m. ET
Championship game, 8 p.m. ET
All games will be shown on NHL Network in the U.S. and TSN in Canada.