The Czech Extraliga (Czech: Extraliga ledního hokeje, ELH) is the highest-level ice hockey league in the Czech Republic. It was created by the 1993 split of the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League following the breakup of Czechoslovakia. The league features 14 teams.
In the 1999–2000 season, HC Sparta Praha broke Vsetín's five year long winning streak, defeating them in the finals. This was the only time Vsetín was defeated in the finals, as they would get their revenge and beat Sparta in the finals a season later. The 2000-01 season was the last time Vsetín managed to advance to the finals, and the team began falling further down in the standings every season since.
Sparta won their second title in the 2001–02 season. The title would stay in Prague the next season as well, however, this time Sparta's main rival, Slavia, won the title. The title would then be won by Hamé Zlín (2003–04 season) and HC Moeller Pardubice (2004–05 season) before one of the Prague teams captured it again.
For the first and only time, Sparta and Slavia would appear in the finals in the 2005–06 season. Sparta was the more successful team out of the pair, triumphing over Slavia 4 games to 2. Sparta would win the cup in the next season as well, this time defeating the 2004-05 champion Pardubice in 6 games.
Vsetín's run in the Extraliga would come to an end after the 2006–07 season. The Czech Ice Hockey Association would revoke the club's Extraliga license due to the team's enormous debt, forcing them to fold. As a result, no other teams were relegated that season and the First League champions, HC Slovan Ústečtí Lvi, were automatically promoted to the Extraliga. The 2007–08 season was the only season Slovan ever appeared in the Extraliga, as they were relegated back to the First League at the end of the season.
Since the 2006–07 season, 3 points have been awarded for a regulation win and 2 points for an overtime/shootout victory, while the defeated team in overtime/shootout gets 1 point. If necessary, penalty shots are used to decide games after overtime. Also from the 2006–07 season through the 2007–08 season there was only one assist credited for each goal instead of the standard two that other leagues credit. This rule change affected league statistics in a negative manner, and so the rule was changed back to the standard two assists starting in the 2008–09 season.
Slavia Prague would defeat HC Energie Karlovy Vary in the finals in the 2007–08 season. The same teams appeared in the finals a year later, this time with the opposite outcome. Pardubice then captured its second and third title in the 2009–10 and 2011–12 seasons, respectively. HC Oceláři Třinec won their first title in the 2010–11 season.
The first open-air hockey game since the 1960s took place during the 2010-11 season in Pardubice. The attendance for this game was record breaking, with 17,140 people in the crowd. The home team squared off against HC Kometa Brno, for whom this was their first season back in the Extraliga since 1995. Pardubice won this game 4-2.
HC Mountfield České Budějovice was forced to sell its license after the 2012–13 season, due to an interesting dispute. At the end of the season, Extraliga announced that Radegast would be the new beer sponsor for the league. However, Mountfield had a naming rights agreement with Budweiser Budvar Brewery at the time, and would therefore be unable to sell any other kind of beer at their stadium. As a result of Extraliga and the club not being able to reach an agreement, the team sold its license to Hradec Králové, thus forming Mountfield HK.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Czech Extraliga, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.