Former Czech goaltender Josef Mikoláš, whose toughness backed Czechoslovakia to a stunning silver at the 1961 World Championships, has died from illness at the age of 77 in Ostrava.
Mikoláš, a goaltender whose grit made him feared and renowned, but ultimately cut short his pro career with Vítkovice and Chomutov of the Czechoslovak League, had his career highlights come in goal for the Czechoslovakian national squad, appearing in just 29 games but medalling in both his World Championship appearances. In addition to a bronze in 1963, Mikoláš helped capture a surprising second place finish in 1961 at Lausanne, where the Czechs both defeated the Soviets 6-4 and tied Canada 1-1 en route to both the silver medal and European Championship.
Mikoláš, who became a Czech sports journalist in Ostrava following his retirement in 1970, won his first and only IHLC at the 1963 Worlds, as Czechoslovakia came to Stockholm as incumbent IHLC champions, holding the title for their opening four games. Our condolences go out to the Mikoláš family, as well as the extended Czech hockey community, who will surely pay some form of tribute at the upcoming World Championships in Ostrava next month.