At only 23 years old, Czech international goalkeeper, Klara Peslarova, has already played in three different countries and represented her country at five Senior World Championships. That said, her only medal was a Bronze at U18 World Championship in 2014, a standout moment in her career.
But despite having played in native country and Russia, it is the SDHL she likes the most, “I would say that Sweden has the best league for women’s hockey in Europe and it is really competitive”.
With experience at both international and club level, I ask her about what the difference between these two types of hockey is, “International games have a bit more intensity, and there are many players with a lot of experience in high pressure situations,” she says. But by comparison, “In the SDHL, the games are skilled, but there are a lot of young players who don’t yet have that experience”.
Now at the end of her second season at MODO Hockey, she also played for SDE Hockey for two years from 2015/6. In the time between her two stays in Sweden she played in a men’s league in the Czech Republic, but “after that year, I really missed Sweden so I decided to come back”, she says.
However, she did not come alone, but with three other Czech players who have all joined her in Örnsköldsvik. They are Daniela Pejsova, Agata Sanovska and Laura Lerchova, are all under 20 and played for their country together with Peslarova at the recent Euro Hockey Tour in Sweden.
And this year she has not only had compatriots as teammates, but also as opposition. That’s because Katerina Mrazova and Denisa Krizova now both play for Brynäs IF. They are two of the top scoring forwards in the SDHL this year and came to Sweden in the summer of 2019 having finished as 11thand 16th highest scorers in the NWHL last year.
However, it is MODO and Klara Peslarova who can take home the bragging rights when it comes to the rivalry between Czech players in the SDHL. Despite Brynäs IF’s stunning season, MODO have beaten them in three of their four meetings. Not only that, but the 23-year-old netminder has only let in three goals from her national teammates, showing that she is equal to them in talent.
The six Czech players in these two Swedish clubs will meet again and play together in the forthcoming World Championship in Canada in April. There they will have a great chance to qualify for the knockout phase from Group B which contains Germany, Japan, Denmark and Hungary.
Back in Sweden, MODO Hockey and their international netminder have had two very contrasting years. Last year, the Czech player was the SDHL’s top scoring import with a .925 SVS%. She would also have won this prize in her two years at SDE if it wasn’t for Swiss national keeper, Florence Schelling playing for Linköping HC at that time.
But this season has been tough and whereas they were second from the top of the table last year, the club have second from the bottom in 2020 and will go into the qualification matches against Division 1 teams.
“After last season we lost a lot of players that were big offensive threats for us,” she explains, “so scoring goals was a struggle for us this year.” But she knows that the club have got what it takes to remain in the SDHL, “I think we just need to continue to play as a team, trust in each other and have confidence”.
Peslarova has consistently shown her skill at both national and international level. And whilst MODO have not had a great season, the Czech international player’s talent, and age, means you will be seeing a lot more of her, hopefully in Sweden, but definitely on the World Championship stage and, maybe, in the 2022 Winter Olympics in China.