Jan Peka

There have been a lot of very good goalies out of the Czech Republic and Slovakia areas over the years. Before there was Tomas Vokoun or Dominik Hasek or even Jiri Holecek or Vladimir Dzurilla, there was Jan Peka.

In fact, Jan Peka was around before Czechoslovakia was around!

When Peka was born in Rataje nad Sázavou, Bohemia in 1894. Bohemia formed the core of the newly formed country of Czechoslovakia following World War I.

One of Europe's true pioneers of hockey, goaltender Peka began his career at Studentsky Hockey Cercle Karlin in 1910. By 1913 he was tending nets for the Bohemia national team at the European Championships, a pre-cursor to the World Championships. In that tournament Bohemia and Belgium tied for first place, with Belgium getting the gold because of the goals scored advantage. Germany and Austria participated.

His budding hockey career was put on hold after that season. He moved to Prague where he concentrated on football (soccer). It is believed he played no hockey at all in the 1913-14 season.

But all of his sporting interests were put on hold as he put in five long years of military service fighting in the first World War.

Upon the War's conclusion Peka once again donned the pads, and became a true hockey legend in his newly named homeland. He would play until the conclusion of the 1936 Olympics, retiring at the age of 42.

What a career he had. In 1920 he backstopped Czechoslovakia to the bronze medal at the very first Olympic hockey event in Antwerp, Belgium. He would also participate at the Olympics in 1928 and 1936. He participated in six European Championships (winning gold in 1925, 1929 and 1933) and eight World Championships (winning bronze in 1920 and 1933).

In club league play Peka played with AC Sparta Praha and the famous LTC Praha.

I know very little about Jan Peka off of the ice, other than he died on January 21, 1985 at the age of 80.

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