A Czech comet lands in Neumarkt

Just over four months to go before the Würtharena puts on its international dress once again. From August 16 to 18, the 18th edition of the Dolomites Cup will take place in Neumarkt/South Tyrol. HC Kometa Brno, a special club from the Czech Republic, will be taking part this time.

The Dolomitencup is not only a renowned preparatory tournament that attracts ice hockey stars from all over Europe year after year. For some clubs, it is also a good omen. For HC Kometa Brno, for example. In August 2016, the Czechs came to the Dolomites Cup in the south of South Tyrol for the first and so far only time. And although the skaters from Brno finished fourth and last that summer, they went on to have a historic season. A season that ended with a redemptive title.

In the spring of 2017, HC Kometa Brno lifted themselves to the Czech ice hockey throne. For the first time in 51 years, the club managed to bring the title of the country’s highest league back to Brno – the 12th triumph in the club’s history. In the Czech Republic, where ice hockey is a religion, this is tantamount to an accolade. And because it was so enjoyable, Kometa went on to win the trophy again the following season.

A unique president

Anyone who says Kometa in the Czech Republic is bound to mention the name Libor Zábranský. There are not many figures who shape a club as much as the now 50-year-old. He once played in Kometa’s youth section, then left to make it to the NHL and returned in the early 2000s as a savior. Zábranský took over the club, saved it from ruin with his money, skill and commitment, led it to the top league and finally to the long-awaited championship title. Owner, president, head and assistant coach or youth coach – Libor Zábranský has held every conceivable position at Kometa. He currently works behind the scenes as managing director and owner. Last season in the Extraliga, the traditional club founded in 1953 finished fourth in the regular season, but fell to Litvinov in a thrilling quarter-final series. Planning for the new season has long since begun – and perhaps the Dolomites Cup will bring luck this time too. In any case, HC Kometa Brno is the second club to confirm its participation in the pre-season tournament. EHC Kloten from the Swiss National League is also taking part.

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