Czech hockey cities. The team, which made the industrial city in the north of Czech Republic famous,
doesn’t carry the name Ostrava, though. It is the Vitkovice team which is usual one of the
top squads in the Czech Extraleague. So it was very likely that also Michal Gulasi will
have a chance on a hockey career. This is much increased when you take into account, that his
dad was and still is an active hockey player. Even this season he guards the blue line of
Frydek-Mistek of a Czech regional league. So since the very beginning of his life Michal
had contact with the game as he often followed his dad to the practices and was sitting in
the arena when he dressed up for the games. Like most kids, Michal liked to be active and do
some sports. During winter his father directed his first strides at the rink and very soon
the little Michal began to carry the stick in his hands.
When he was five, he wanted to really start playing organized hockey and he was succesfully
admitted to perform for the youngest kids of the famed Vitkovice team. But his parents
didn’t want him to be only one-dimensional in sports and so he started attending practices
also of the second most popular Czech sport – soccer. It could be said that in winter Michal
chased the puck and in sommer the ball.
His dedication and natural talent for hockey came out on the surface soon. Michal was willing to
do extra practices to improve his agility and puck skills and as far as off-ice practices
are concerned, he did a lot of workouts to be in a good shape. Since the very beginning of
his career he made use of his hockey sense and smooth puckhandling skills to learn how to
be defensively responsible. Michal doesn’t rush forward without having his defensive duties
done first. He is a solid skater, even if his pivots and lateral movement still needs some
improvement. He always takes his man and stays with him all the way. Michal also positiones
himself quite well and has a great use of his stick. Whether it is to steal the puck from
an opponent or to handle the puck, both Michal does with ease and confidence. His drawback
is his agility which needs some improvement. Also even with blessed with solid stickhandling
ability, Michal has to further develop his decision making when carrying the puck out of
his own zone. In his case it looks like a thing which will come with more maturity.
As he grew in age, he became aware of how hard shooting and toughness is important in the
play of a defenseman. Michal began to concentrate on improving his nasty edge and tried
to throw his body around more. No wonder that he states hard-nosed Czech Atlanta Thrashers
blueliner Jiri Slegr as his hockey role model, one he patterns his game after. The
Philadelphia Flyers have caught his attention also due to their physical style of play and
now are the former ‘Broad Street Bullies’ the favorite team of Michal Gulasi.
Upgrading his toughness payed immediate dividens as Gulasi soon became one of the toughest
pee-wee aged players in the region and a cornerstone in defensive scheme of his team.
One of the important moments in Michal’s career came as former NHL defenseman Milos Holan
took over the coaching duties in the 6th grade team of Vitkovice. The former Anaheim Mighty
Duck was fighting cancer and after winning the battle he started his coaching career with
the 12-year old kids. Michal Gulasi and his teammates learned a lot of useful tips during
Holan’s two-year stint with the Vitkovice’s 1986 born players. He worked with Gulasi a lot
and learned him how to use the body effectively to stop the opposing forwards and how to
make use of his puckhandling ability.
Albeit suffering an ankle injury, Michal Gulasi’s best season was the last season. The
Vitkovice 9th grade team finished unbeaten in the regular season of the 9th grade kids league
and suffered just two losses on the way to the championship tournament. Due to his injury
Michal didn’t play the whole portion of the schedule, but once he laced up the skates, he
was the dominant force on the Vitkovice blue line. And then came the championship tournament
of the 9th grades, where besides Vitkovice took part also the eventual winner Slavia Praha
and Litvinov. Vitkovice 9th grades finished third, last placed, but Gulasi’s fearless play
earned him top defenseman honors on the tournament. That was without doubt the biggest
individual trophy in Michal’s previous career.
Another highlight of last season for Michal was his midget Extraleague debut. As an underage
he guarded the blue line for the Vitkovice midgets in 20 games, scoring his first goal
and adding two helpers for a total of 3 points. He also made his presence felt in the penalty
minutes cathegory, where he amassed his first 15 PIM’s.
Michal had an enjoyable last year, he also participated at the selection tournaments for the
next Czech Under-16 team and eventually caught the eye of coaches Vlastimil Koci and Jaromir
Sindel. After being one of the top players at the main selection tournament in April Gulasi
went along with his three Vitkovice teammates, Michael Kolarz, Petr Pohl and Petr Valusiak
to Nymburk for the first meeting of the 2001-2002 Czech Under-16 team.
The summer of 2001 wasn’t only important in Michal’s hockey career, but also life. After
finishing the elementary school he had to decide what to do next and he chose that he wants
to learn how to be a waiter in a restaurant. This is also the school he attends now.
The second solution to be done was his soccer career. With entering the midget Extraleague
full time, Gulasi wouldn’t have enough time to attend soccer practices. So he decided only
to play games and fully concentrate on his hockey career.
Paired with 2005 NHL prospect Michael Kolarz on the second line of the Vitkovice midgets, Michal
Gulasi enjoyed a succesfull start into the 2001-2002 season. Head coach Kuridym gave him
a solid portion of ice time and Gulasi soon became one of the better young defensemen in the
midget Extraleague. He coped with the increased role on the team well and stunned the midget
Extraleague with his hard hits and an in-your-face style of game.
The regular season Gulasi finished with more than four PIM’s per game, an average which
only very few midget-aged players accomplish. Now after 40 games Michal Gulasi recorded 165
penalty minutes. He also contributed offensively, posting solid numbers with 16 points
for 8 goals and an equal number of assists.
His international career had also a bright start, Michal maintained his position in the Under
-16 team and also participated at the Four Nations Tournament held two weeks ago. He states
this fact as his biggest success in his hockey career so far. With the Under-16 team he isn’t
asked to generate lots of offense, better to stay back and play as a stay-at-home
blueliner, a role which seems to suit him quite well.
In his free time Michal like most players likes just to relax a bit or sleep to gain strength
for the games. He likes to listen to techno or house style of music and hang out with his
friends. That mixed with his hockey career, school and soccer matches forms nearly the whole of
Michal’s current life.
As a player very eager to come over to try his luck in the CHL coming 2003, North American
fans may have a taste of Michal Gulasi’s play quite soon. He is definitely one of the top 1986
born Czech defensive prospect, so it may be a worthy look. Good luck!