A group of five Czech hockey players have scored a last-minute flight back to their homeland.
Sitting in the VIA Rail departure zone inside Union Station, the players from the Kingsville Kings Tier II Jr. A. GMHL squad said they are on quite a road trip to get home before all flights are grounded.
David Matecha, a defenceman with the Kings, who is from Pardubice — home to NHLers Ales Hemsky, legendary goalie Dominik Hasek and one-time Toronto Maple Leafs puckstopper Jiri Crha — said he was” just happy to be going home.”
Matecha said the players had a long trip from Kingsville (near Windsor) to Toronto, with further travel ahead as he kept his energy up, eating a bowl of pasta, before awaiting the 5 p.m. train to Montreal, and then a flight home.
“The Czech government sent a special flight to get all the Czechs in Canada and fly us back home,” said Matecha.
The teammates originally were supposed to fly out of Detroit, but that flight was cancelled — so the trek to La Belle Province began.
Matecha, who has been in touch with his family in the Czech Republic, went on to explain the conditions back at home are a little stricter than in Canada.
“People are not allowed to leave your homes without a face mask. And if you do you get a big fine,” said Matecha. “Or probably go to jail for some time.”
“Everyone is basically scared.”
Goalie Marek Pavlas, who comes from Jihlava, was wearing a different mask — an N-95 — instead of his goalie’s equipment.
“It’s good for us to get home,” Pavlas said. “My family is happy I am coming back.”
“They are worried we have to travel by train and by plane.”