Jakub Kovář is off to a very strong start in the Czech Extraliga, his first season as a starting goalie in the league. His 93.27 save percentage ranks 5th in the league and 2.10 goals against average 6th after seven games played. He's also one of only three goalies in the league who have started and played all seven games, making his numbers stand out even more.
Now his team's fans have given him some recognition, choosing him the best player on the team in September.
"Yeah, I'm happy, of course. We try to get the best possible results right from the start, so I'm glad that the fans are happy. But it's still just a start and we have most of the games ahead of us. It would be stupid to settle on something like five games. It's fun now, but it would be a lot more fun if everyone was happy with me when the season is over."
"This is the kind of a start that everyone wants to have. And for the team to be able to win, they have to trust their goalie. If you look at the standings and then the goalie stats, it's pretty obvious that there's a connection.""The most important stats are the wins and losses. That's where you can see how and if we're able to help the team gain more points."
"On the other hand, there are no goalies that don't care about individual stats. Of course I'm interested in them, but those numbers are often very misleading and may not reflect on how someone really performs and helps his team."
Kovář says the games so far have been very close and could have gone either way.
"If we look at the games we've played so far, they've all been close until the very end. We've been winning a lot of one goal games or getting empty net goals. It could be that we won't be so lucky from now on and we'll be the ones trying to come from behind in games. It's often about physical and mental strength. We try to get as many points as we can now; they'll count in the end."
Good start to the season doesn't guarantee a good finish, and memories from last season are a good reminder of that.
"I think last year we got a lot of points early in the season, but then we hit a wall. We have got to try to become consistent, be strong at home and try to get as many points as possible on the road. We have a good fighting spirit on the team and we have strong and smart players that skate well. Our defense is big, strong and tough. But we also have young guys who want to improve. And we all know that individual players can't have success without the team."
It's the team that always comes first.
"Exactly. We don't care who scores five goals and who doesn't. It doesn't matter who's sitting in the penalty box and who isn't playing. The only thing we want is results and that we do our best."
"I feel good about our team."
The highlight of the season so far for Kovář has been his second career shutout.
"It was the last twenty seconds in the game against Kladno, when I got my first shutout of the season. We had the 2-0 lead and they put pressure on us. We won, got the shutout and I was very happy."
This report was based off of a Czech-language story released by České Budějovice.