Former Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech made a dream debut in Ice Hockey. Cech led Guildford Phoenix to a win over Swindon Wildcats by saving a penalty in a shootout. During the shootout, he saved two penalties to help his side edge out a second-string Wildcats side 3-2. The 37-year-old who played the sport as a youngster joined the fourth-tier ice hockey team earlier in the week.
Thanks to Jacob Rondeau-Smit, Phoenix took the lead early in the second period but trailed 2-1 heading into the third. It was an equaliser from Taylor Wootton that forced the game into overtime. No teams scored in extra-time and then the game went into a penalty shootout. Cech saved Swindon’s first and last efforts to secure his side the victory and was named his side’s man of the match.
Holding the record for the most number of clean sheets, Cech is the most successful goalkeeper for Chelsea. Having retired from football following the Europa League final in May when he played for Arsenal against Chelsea, Cech returned to Stamford Bridge in his new technical role in June.
At the age of 13, Cech had to make the decision between pursuing a future in ice hockey or in football, because he simply did not have time to practice both. Since moving to England he has frequently watched ice hockey in Guildford, as well as keeping up to speed with everything going on in the NHL in America.
Back in 1998, the 16-year-old Cech was captivated by his nation, the Czech Republic’s dramatic triumph in that year’s Winter Olympics in Japan. He takes up the story.
‘It was in Nagano so the ice hockey quarter-finals, semi-finals and final were all in the morning, so I didn’t go to school,’ he laughs. ‘We all tried to find a way not to miss it.
‘That year was the first the NHL allowed all the best players to go and participate, so people called it the “Tournament of the Century” because every nation could choose any player they wanted from every competition. This time is the same so it will be exciting.’