Double dose of Czech firepower for Manchester Phoenix

Tuesday, 14th May 2013

J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix are pleased to announce the first two signings for the 2013-14 season.

Coach Tony Hand has secured the services of Czech Republic forward Frantisek Bakrlik for Phoenix’s next campaign.

The 29 year old right winger, standing at 6 foot 5 and weighing in at 230lbs, is no stranger to these shores, having iced in the Elite League for Hull Stingrays, Coventry Blaze and Fife Flyers. Last season he donned Slough Jets colours and finished the campaign as the league’s third top goal scorer.

Frankie hit the hockey scene for his home town club Litvinov in the Czech under-18 league in 1999 and tried his hand the following season in the Ontario League for the Barrie Colts. This gained him a place in the World Junior Championships at under-18 level for his homeland.  A further season in Canada, with Barrie and Sarnia Sting, ensued before he found a slot in the Czech second division with HC Brno.

Canada still had an appeal for the young forward and he iced for Winston Salem Polar Twins in the Southern Professional League in 2003-4. However, the league folded and he moved across North Carolina to Adirondack in the United Hockey league for a season and a half.

The next five seasons were spent between the second and third divisions in the Czech Republic and the Polish first league. He picked up cup and league winner’s medals, while in Poland icing for GKS Tychy and Podhale Nowy Targ, and was selected in 2010-11 for the Polish All Star game.

Frankie then came across the Channel to play in the Elite League and in the 2011-12 season he played 65 games, splitting appearances between Hull, Coventry and Fife, scoring 19 goals and 34 assists in the process.

Slough Jets took an interest in him for last season and he certainly pleased his coach Slava Koulikov and the Jets fans with 48 goals and 34 assists. He also brought a physical side to his game, totalling 161 penalty minutes in the season.

The tough power forward has plenty of experience, having iced over 580 professional games in his career.
Frantisek had this to say on Phoenix TV when the signing was announced:

“Tony and I talked last season but were unable to conclude a deal. It was good to hear he was still interested. Coming to Manchester was an easy decision, I want to win medals.”

Coach Tony Hand commented: “Frankie will be great for Phoenix. He is big, strong and skilful and he will fit in really well on our small ice at Altrincham. I spoke to him last season and am delighted to sign him for the coming season”

The double dose was completed when the club announced the return of popular Czech forward Michal Psurny.

Michal delighted the Phoenix faithful last season with 43 goals in the club’s play off winning season. Who could forget his two goals in Coventry in April?

The skilful winger was a late addition to the roster last year but instantly became a fan favourite with his great hands and eye for goal. Michal’s 89 points not only earned him a place in Phoenix folklore but also a place in the league’s second All Star Team.

Last season was only Michal’s second playing outside of his native Czech Republic. He spent the 2005-06 season in the Western Hockey League for Medicine Hat Tigers and Kootenay Ice. Born in Zlin, he iced 93 times for his home town club in the Czech Extra Liga, picking up a winner’s medal in 2003-04. He also won a World Junior Championship bronze medal at under 18-level in the same season. Most of his career has been spent moving between the Extra Liga and the Czech 2nd division and his 43 goals and 46 assists for Phoenix last year was a record career return for him.

Michal said on PTV: “I really enjoyed last season and winning the play offs was fantastic. I hoped Tony would want me back and it was an easy decision to say yes when he asked me. The club is great and the fans are the best in the league.”

Tony Hand had this to say on Michal: “I thought Michal was one of the best imports in the league last season. He is a great professional on and off the ice and a pleasure to work with. I think we will see even more from him this coming year as he now knows what the league is all about and I am looking forward to him moving on from the great year he has just had.”

With these signings, Coach Hand has shown his intent to yet again provide Manchester with an exciting, entertaining team well capable of challenging for every honour next season.

Player Profiles

Michal Psurny

Michal Psurny
(Image: Richard Allan)

Frantisek Bakrlik in the pre-game warm up

František Bakrlík

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