Ales Cech was one of the two 2004’s who spent the entire past season with Kärpät U18. The left-shot defenseman from Prague, Czech Republic stood out in a couple of preseason games which I attended and played well over the course of the regular season, too. One thing that’s very noticeable to me is his defensive game. He is very tough to get around in 1-on-1’s because he uses his long reach well to apply stick pressure and keeps tight gaps. He uses his size and strength to defend effectively in tight spaces. His skating is very good: he moves well in all directions, especially backwards, and he displays strong footwork and some nice agility for a 6’2″ blueliner. He has a good, hard shot and doesn’t overhandle the puck at the point. He can move the puck well, but the precision of his passing could be better at times. I would also like to see more poise with the puck, especially on the breakout. I think the offensive side of his game will gradually start to come along next season as he begins his second year at the U18’s.