Sunday, January 4, 2015

1989 Czechoslovakia National Team Jerguš Bača Jersey

Get your passports ready, as today we take a journey through the world of hockey with Jerguš Bača, a Czechoslovakian defenseman who was born on this date in 1965.

Bača began his career with HC Kosice in 1987-88 in the Czechoslovak hockey league, after which Kosice won the league championship and he was named the Rookie of the Year.

After his second season with Kosice, he made his international debut at the 1989 World Championships skating for Czechoslovakia. After his third season with Kosice, during which he scored more points than his previous two seasons combined when he netted 9 goals and 15 assists for 24 points after seasons of 10 and 13 points, he returned to the World Championships for a second consecutive season.

He impressed the scouts with his solid defensive play and increased offensive output so much that he was drafted 141st overall by the Hartford Whalers, 15 spots ahead of his HC Kosice teammate Peter Bondra.

He was assigned to the Springfield Indians for the 1990-91 season to acclimate to North America and it's style of hockey. He would play 57 games for the Indians, scoring 6 goals and 23 assists. Additionally, Bača was recalled by the parent club, the Whalers along the way, where he competed in 9 games, scoring a pair of assists. By the end of the season he was jergus bacback in Springfield, where he was a solid contributor to the Indians playoff drive, scoring 3 goals and 16 points in 18 games, good for fifth on the team as Springfield would win the Calder Cup as champions of the American Hockey League.

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Bača while with the Hartford Whalers

Bača would return to the international stage when he suited up for Czechoslovakia at the 1991 Canada Cup tournament, scoring 3 points in 5 games.

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Bača wearing the red of Czechoslovakia

The vast majority of his 1991-92 season was again spent with Springfield, with a virtually identical 6 goals and 26 points. He would play a lone game with the Whalers in the NHL, but was again back with the Indians come playoff time.

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Bača played a single game with Hartford in 1991-92

For 1992-93 Bača moved to the Milwaukee Admirals of the International Hockey League, where he had his finest two offensive seasons of his career, scoring 9 goals and 38 points during his first year and followed that with a 35 point campaign in 1993-94.

During early 1994, Bača made his Olympic debut, only now skating for Slovakia, as the Velvet Divorce had occurred in Czechoslovakia at the end of 1992 while Bača was playing his first season in Milwaukee. He played in 8 games, scoring a goal and 2 assists in Lillehammer, Norway.

It was back across the Atlantic Ocean for the 1994-95 season, as Bača signed with Leksands IF in Sweden. For 1995-96, he returned to North America for a second stint with Milwaukee, playing in 74 games while scoring 15 points and setting a career high with 130 penalty minutes.

Slovakia called upon him once again, this time at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, where he contributed a goal in three games played.

It was back to Europe once more for the 1996-97 season when he joined HC Olomouc in the Czech Republic for one season. He rejoined his original club, HC Kosice in neighboring Slovakia for that year's playoffs.

Following the season Bača made his debut at the 1997 World Championships for Slovakia, who by now had reached the "A" Pool after having to start life as an independent nation at the bottom of the IIHF ladder system while the Czech Republic was allowed to retain Czechoslovakia's place at the top level.

He would remain with HC Kosice for the 1997-98 season, which included making it to the Slovak Extraliga playoff final, a hard fought series which included three overtime games out of the five game series, including the decisive Game 5. Bača again skated for Slovakia at the 1998 World Championships after the conclusion of the playoffs.

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Bača played for Slovakia following the breakup of Czechoslovakia

Another season with Kosice paid off for Bača as the team again returned to the league playoff final. After a second consecutive second place regular season finish behind HC Slovan Bratislava, the two teams would meet again in the finals, only this time Kosice would turn the tables and prevail as league champions by winning the final three games after dropping Game 1 to upset the high powered Slovan club, who had 245 regular season goals on their way to outscoring their opposition by a margin of 143 goals, versus Kosice's 135 goals and +17 goal difference.

A new season found Bača in yet another new country, as he joined Frankfurt Lions of the German DEL for the next three seasons, highlighted with 10 goals in 1999-00, his only double digit goal total in any league at any level.

Following his final season with the Lions in 2001-02, Bača made the final international appearance of his career when he played in 9 games of the 2002 World Championships as Slovakia made it through to the Final Round knockout playoffs and first defeated Canada 3-2 before ousting Sweden by the same score before sending the entire nation into rapture when they defeated Russia 4-3 to win the gold medal as world champions.

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Slovakia celebrates it's World Championship in 2002

Bača would return to Slovakia to close out his career, playing first for MHK 32 Liptovsky Mikulas for 46 games before moving to Dukla Trencin for the final 6 games of the regular season before a few rounds of the playoffs.

For 2003-04, he returned to MHK 32 Liptovsky Mikulas and played two final seasons before retiring as an active player.

While his NHL career consisted of just ten games, Bača played for 18 seasons in six different countries and won a Calder Cup, a Slovak league championship and a dramatic and memorable World Championship gold medal to end his international career with an exclamation point.

Today's featured jersey is a 1989 Czechoslovakia National Team Jerguš Bača jersey as worn during the 1989 season during which he would make his international debut.

This style was only used for one season with the heraldic lion crest before a change to a vertical Czechoslovakian flag in 1990 and finally a Czech and Slovak Hockey Federation logo for the 1992 World Championships before the end of Czechoslovakia.

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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1996 Slovakia National Team Jerguš Bača jersey as worn during the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. This was the first of the Nike jerseys worn by the Slovaks after their initial jerseys worn following their independence were made by Tackla from 1993 through 1995, with the last two years branded as Reebok.

The jerseys were initially crested with "Slovakia" on the front, which was then somewhat crudely covered by a white patch (instead of blue) with "Slovensko" screened on it. This style was used by Slovakia at the 1996 World Championships in the spring, the 1996 World Cup that fall and through the 1997 Worlds until replaced by a new style for the 1998 season.

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photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

In today's video section, highlights of Slovakia winning the 2002 World Championship.

Next, Bača is stopped on a great save while he was playing for the Springfield Indians during the 1991 Calder Cup Finals.

Here is Bača, now an assistant coach with Slovakia, being interviewed at the 2012 World Championships after Slovakia's 5-4 win over France to secure their place in the Playoff Round.

Finally, Bonda and Ziggy Palffy discuss Bača in 2002, which includes some brief footage of him in action for Slovakia.

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