Monday, 29 October 2012

Five by five

Five by five!

Two game days have passed since last post in EBEL league, numerous games were played in other leagues. 

Nope, never again going to look at Detroit the same
None were played in "best pro league". NHL even cancelled their schedule for November. 

Even Obama commented on the lockout, he wasn't too happy about it and made a point in telling both to NHL and NHLPA that they're here because of the fans. And that they should find a way to work it out as soon as possible. American guy telling NHL how to make it work. 

Atleast they didn't have him play a hockey game and score a GWG just like Putin did some time ago.

Someone told NHL players there here to play hockey...

so they came this weekend to EBEL and did some work (chart below is blatantly stolen from a poster on a Medvescak fan and supporters group on FB). 

Olimpija Ljubljana: Jan Mursak - 10/21 (2,10)
Medvescak Zagreb: Dustin Jeffrey - 6/9 (1,50)
Orli Znojmo: Bryan Bickell - 6/9 (1,50)
HC Innsbruck: Andreas NÖDL - 8/11 (1,37)
Graz 99ers: Thomas Vanek - 8/10 (1,25)
Villacher SV: Michael Grabner - 7/8 (1,14)
Klagenfurter AC: Sam Gagner - 4/4 (1,00)
Vienna Capitals: Corey Potter - 7/2 (0,28)
EC Salzburg: Tobias Enström - 2/1 (0,50)
Klagenfurter AC: Tyler Myers 4/1 (0,25)

Obviously some players upped their performance, some just started to play but thats quite a nice number of NHLers playing in the league so far. Andy Noodles managed to score a couple of goals this weekend. I'm assuming he got acclimatized to nice Alpine air.
Andreas Nödl's happy face
Or he just forgot what they mage him to in Carolina and started playing some hockey. He even managed to help his team win a second game of the season. Yay Noodles! Good job buddy!

Auld got outmatched by a rookie 18 year old goalie Luka Gračnar 
Salzburg sacked another player. After letting go of Nick Ross they decided to part ways with Ryan Kinasewich, an East coaster with brief AHL stints. Apparently they've parted friendly, but there are always rumorus. Anyways, Salzburg recently brought up three new guys. After signing a NHL goalie this summer, Alex Auld of Senators who had 3,73 GAA and only .885 SVS% they decided to bring another Austrian powerhouse back home. 
Bernd Brückler returns home from KHL team Sibir to a star team EC Red Bull Salzburg. 

Berndy's angry face inside a mask. He wears #26 these days
After Bernd came back home (he's still hated not liked by OEHV, Austrian federation, though why it remains a mistery) RBS decided to hire more NHL lockout players. First it came on Tobias Enström to sign and manage the defense of the team. Just two days later they brought a Devil to the game, David Clarkson came to play and is supposedly here to stay regardless of lockout issues ending or not. Still wasn't enough to win games. 

Sammy Gagner upped his game with two goals against Salzburg and is coming into shape. Wonder if he'll be fit for playoffs or he'll watch them again on TV?

Medveščak is on fire so far. 

Six games, six victories in a row and two home back to back games coming up should be enough to tie in a franchise record and possibly set a new one. Current record is 7 games in a row and Raymond's team set it up last year starting with a win in Graz. New one can be set up by a win in Graz again, in a last game before IIHF break, on 4th of November. Vanek, boys are ready for payback.

Out of these few victories in a row, last 4 were won with 5 goals scored each game. 5:0 against Innsbruck (on road), 5:2 against Sapa Fehervar AV19, 5:1 against Linz (on road, reigning champions) and last night 5:1 against EC VSV from Villach who were current leaders. 

The Bears haven't lost a home game since outdoor games in Pula were played, almost two months ago. 

Team is on fire now, each game a different line stands up and goes "crazy". Yesterday it was time for a 4th line start the show with a SH1 goal that was set up by Kostović, a player with over 400 NLA games. A few minutes later hi tallied his second goal of the season which proved to be a GWG goal as well. Dustin Jeffrey (Pittsburgh Penguins) a player Carslberg Croatia, and their brand PAN, helped bring over is slowly getting more and more points, so far he's on 1.6ppg and 9 points out of 6 games played.

Dario Kostović scoring a GWG goal against EC VSV (Photo: Igor Šoban)
Whats next, we'll see tomorrow, the team is hot now, but coming 4th of November up to three players will need to be let go. Too many points and rosters are getting fixed. Who will stay, who will go is a big question that everyone is asking. Only time will tell...

Anyone wondered where Stewart and Simmonds are?

Stewart and Simmonds in an "on ice bromance" in Czech Republic
Well we found them! After driving off into sunset and ditching the team in Crimmitschau, and setting it up for their Leaf believer buddy Clarke MacArthur, Simmonds and Stewart drove to Czech republic to have some good time. Later that night someone steered them towards Liberec where they got signed. Looks like the boys were having time for only two games until the racist slur started. 

Click on link to watch Czech fans yelling "Opice, opice" meaning "monkeys, monkeys" after a scram on the ice involving Simmonds. That's not nice. Shame on you bad Czech hockey fans!

We just hope that Simmonds and Steweart will hop on soon to a new destination in Europe as this is a perfect time for them to see the world. And play some hockey while fooling around. Oh you bad boys!

BTNL jerseys and a young RB Crashed ice champ in Netherlands
Plus - can't let this slide by. Another wave of qualifications for Red Bull Crashed Ice has passed. And imagine what, my friend's best workout place in Canada got sported by this young athlete. Good job Dan, apparently the quality of your work spreads far and beyond! Check out this great video done by Beyond the next level team!

Tomorrow is an another game day in EBEL league, so expect another update on the league pretty soon. And pretend you like it, means a world to me. Until then, best regards and keep your sticks on the ice, head up and feet moving.


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Men who wear pink

Men who wear pink!

Athletes, sports functionaries and fans often actively support good causes. October is usually reserved for support and fight against breast cancer. Therefor pink was the color of choice and a weapon against the dreaded illness. 

Giroux and Briere in pink
Claude Giroux and Danny Briere decided to go along with their team's effort and after getting pink Warrior gloves, they donned pink jerseys of their Lockout team Eisbaren Berlin. Pink Bears, sounds... nice. 

Good job guys! 

Another team that supported this cause were Zagreb Bears, Croatian national champions playing in EBEL league. 

KHL Medvescak Zagreb's laces against breast cancer (Photo: Igor Šoban)

Pregame warmup in pink (Photo: Igor Šoban)
Bears decided to support the cause by changing all the laces during October into pink ones. And boy do those look cool. 

And now, something completely different! 

Niclas Backstrom is another player that moved overseas and joined a KHL team during NHL lockout. 20 or so years after Cold War ended, Backstrom moves from Washington to Moscow and joins his former / current / future teammate Ovechkin in UHC Dynamo Moscow. 2006. first round draft pick decided to spice up the lockout talks by taking a jersey with #99 to play with in KHL. 

We all know #99 is retired NHL-wide in honor of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. Backstrom is certainly a great player, but does he deserve this jersey? Time will tell. Is it a great public relations pull? Certainly.

Nicklas Backstrom made his KHL debut Monday wearing jersey No. 99 for Dynamo Moscow. (Photo: @plysenkov)

Lost boys found... in Czech republic!

On Sunday we reported Simmonds and Stewart driving somewhere towards Czech and into sunset after they decided to ditch Eispiraten Crimmitschau. The crazy boys decided to continue their Euro Trip playing for White Tigers of Liberec in Czech Extraliga. 

The Pirates from Crimmistchau didn't wait too long for their substitutions. On monday they signed a promising and hard working player Ned Lukacevic for a tryout period and then today they bombed us by signing Toronto Maple Leaf forward Clarke MacArthur for a month. Not bad. 

Clarke MacArthur of Maple Leafs throwing hands in the air like he believes
Hopefully MacArthur, just like Sam Gagner, will help his team in securing a playoff spot. If lucky they might even play in them. For the first time. In like.. thousand years. 

Game night tonight!

From Winnipeg to Salzburg for Toby!
EBEL has two games going on tonight, HDD Telemach Olimpija (with Mursak) welcomes a really bad team with Andy Nodl, HC Innsbruck. KHL Medveščak Zagreb (with Dustin Jeffrey of Pittsburgh Penguins) are hosts to Hungarian team Sapa Fehervar AV19 tonight at 19:15 (GMT +1) LIVE

In meantime, EC Red Bull Salzbrug decided to throw even more money around. After signing Austrian  goalie Bernd Brückler (@brucks30), who will wear #26 and probably push former NHL goalie Alex Auld out of the crease. 

With relatively bad Auld in goal getting a better substitution, Red Bull decided to sign Tobias Enström. Maybe they'll finally manage to get some fans to their games now. Probably wont, but who cares, they're Red Bull. 

Go Jets go! I mean, go Bears go!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Time to process our feelings

Another hockey weekend is over, and after a whole storm and war on hockey going on both sides of Atlantic "it's perfect time to process our feelings."

After hearing NHL proposal, seeing it rejected and watching three counter-proposals by NHLPA getting counter rejected by NHL in return, Ovechkin decided to go headfirst into the boards. All he did get was some nice photos and some rep.

No players or fans were harmed during this incident.

Byfuglien was already unwrapping his p90x, but luckily, no door frames were harmed in process.

Wayne Simmonds and Chris Stewart decided that they had enough playing second league hockey so they finished up nicely their campaign in East Germany, and decided to take some days off. They were last seen driving in a white unidentified car somewhere in vicinity of Czech border. 

Wayne and Chris with their sweet ride

Somewhere south... Sam Gagner played his first EBEL games this weekend and his guys almost lost to the last team, and lost against Hungarian team Sapa Fehervar AV 19. He got a point which was nice. Almost losing to a team which deserves to be last had left Sammy with no points in the game, but hey, it was his first second (Friday-Sunday) game since playoffs regular season ended. Should take some time to adjust to the bigger ice and new team. 

Meanwhile, Thomas Vanek decided it was time to score so he did it three times in a row. Sadly, at the end, someone changed goalscorers, so he only got away with two goals. Didn't save all those hats on the ice though. They were decent hats.

Vienna saw another clash with Olimpija Ljubljana earlier today, this time neither of NHL players scored, but Mursak assisted on another two goals. 8 games, 12 assists and 5 goals. Not bad for a Detroit boy. 

There's an wild idea for EBEL league* as they have a crazy point system in place of salary cap/foreign count. Each domestic player is worth 0-4 points, while import (TC) players are 4 points. Until 4th of November and IIHF break each team can dress up to 22 players worth total max of 60 points. After 11th of November, each team applies a roster which can be changed a maximum of 3 times is the point count would exceed 60. Let's say that the team has 58 points and wishes to put in a 4 point (TC) player they would need to either move any number of players worth 2  or more points off the roster to make room for the new guy. You can add up to 3 players this way. So, any new players coming in for a few weeks during Lockout would have it hard in the league. Any players staying, well.. we'll see how it goes, so far a few team have shown will to waste these changes except when really needed. 

*don't read unless you really care. I wouldn't. 

Germany's first league, DEL, saw a huge goal fiesta in Berlin. The fans did have to wait for over 40 minutes though, but then it all started just nicely. 8 goals, 7 by Giroux's Eisbaren Berlin and 1 by Iserlohn in just under 17 minutes are, well, really cool. Fiesta started with Giroux's yet another goal, and afterwards the crowd just went wild. The team and fans didn't stop on going till the ref stepped in and stopped the mob by blowing the whistled and signaling the end of the game. 8:1 total in less than 17 minutes, not bad. Unless you're on Iserlohn's side that is. 

Looks like Davos' troubles are over in Switzerland. Both Nash and Thorton got points yesterday in 3:2 win over Rapperswill, and Nash managed to score. Its all going good for Ty Seguin in Biel as well, he might not be getting... well he is apparently in the best city in world, isn't he?

Tyler Seguin hopefully likes it in Biel, 10 pts in 9 games (3G, 7A)

And we're back to KHL/NHL

All this might be fun but here's a bomb from KHL's PR we've stumbled on vast internet of Twitterverse:
Evgeni Kuznetsov, KHL PR Dept's biggest headache. "When NHLers leave, the arenas will be empty"  (Sportbox)*
*unless you want your eyes to bleed just jump to conclusion. Yes its about KHL again.  
Looking at these two leagues, all we see is huge $$ floating in the air. It's not as big as other leagues, but its a substantial amount of money. As mentioned before, lockout isn't going nowhere so the focus shifted towards KHL and europe.

KHL was mostly ignored for past few years by North American public, Europe coped with its occasional reach into their teams, but this year it somehow made it huge. First KHL came to middle Europe and big hockey cities of Bratislava and Prague. Then a few bombs were thrown about Zagreb and Milano joining, but it got prolonged (hopefuly?) for another season.

Last bomb was "migration" to KHL after NHL imposed lockout on players. Chara, Voracek, Visnovsky moving to newly relocated/created teams, Ovechkin, Malkin, Semin and many more coming "home" or just in search for work, with ESPN covering it made it.. well watchable.

Is it enough? Will the arenas, and rinks of leagues be full after NHL players leave? What is the impact on European/World's hockey that they will leave behind?

Arenas in KHL aren't full. And it's not enough. Temporary boost and artificial revenue increase by signing NHL players for "pocket money" and an occasional star shining in it just won't do.

KHL and their boss dream is a big 64 team pan-European league featuring dozen or so divisions created geographically. But that's a story for another time. And another post entirely.

NHL lockout isn't good for anyone, third time in 18 years the ecosystem is getting crushed, minor leagues are full of players that don't want to be in that hell any more, for most there is no space, no work and especially overseas, they're getting ridiculous deals while crushing the market. There's no NHLPA there to tend for them and care for them.

Will NHL and NHLPA come to senses soon? Doubt it, meanwhile we're stuck with our good old hockey game and bunch of players looking for work. Lets put them to some good use then.

What we saw this week?

Some good hockey, some bad moves by pencil pushers, some great moves by the best players, and lots of use of "best" players as the voice of said pencil pushers. 

And we've learned one thing, guys don't like it when owners sign the deal then want to get out of it. Everyone has pressure building up but there's just no need for 10 year long, over $100m. But now when you have to pay. Lets cry and twist it around. 

Sad truth is, I still didn't pick my fantasy team. Not sure if I'll do it this year, either out of protest, or out of spite. Man up and start talking.

...over the Pond! team

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

And now, the conclusion!

Hey guys, I would like to start this text with a thank you to all my readers and friends. Only a few days have passed since my last and first post and I've received great feedback. So thanks for reading.

In hockey world so much has happened in last few day that I don't even know where to start. It's always good to start from a beginning so lets go:

Alex Semin got himself a third club of the season, and he's going to play (or practice) on his third continent. Maybe he'll be more interested in playing this time. One can only hope though.

Alex Semin pretending to be interested in hockey for the camera

Danny Briere scored 3 goals and added 4 assists playing for Eisbaren Berlin for the best start ever in German DEL league. Claude Giroux and former NY Islanders draft pick Mark Katic certainly helped him achieve that.

Max Pacioretty supposedly injured his elbow and went back to North America from Switzerland earlier on tuesday. Rumours are his coach is pretty happy about that after an alleged fight they had this weekend. 

Meanwhile EBEL league has gone nuts over NHL "cracks" as Austrians call it. First on 13/10 EC KAC from Klagenfurt added top Saber's D-man and prospect to their roster Tyler Myers.

Tyler Myers swapped Saber's white jersey for a red EC KAC one in Austria

On Monday, 15/10, then EC KAC managed to beat themselves and be the first team in EBEL to sign a second NHL player. Sam Gagner will be joining the team for the game on Friday, and hop into the team bus to Hungary. Maybe he'll even get a chance to break a record in total points scored on one game. 

Sam Gagner (middle) in a nice chat with teammates not during the playoffs

Sam Gagner hasn't played in a pro playoffs, so hopefully NHL won't break lockout just yet so he can enjoy the ride and experience it for the first time in over 5 years. Atleast we know who isn't praying for NHL and NHLPA to continue their talks anytime soon.

In meantime, Vanek-o-Mania is hard in Graz, Nodl is as ineffective as he ever was, Bickell helped Znojmo secure a win over Potter's Vienna. Potter also played in Vienna Capitals' European Trophy game on Tuesday against Sparta Prague and noted a goal in a roller coaster game that finished 7:6 (0:1, 5:0, 2:5) for UPC Vienna Capitals.
Dustin Jeffrey (KHL Medvescak / Pittsburgh Penguins) -  apparently he really likes his beer

Dustin Jeffrey (KHL Medveščak Zagreb / Pittsburgh Penguins) went on a long road trip from Zagreb to Dornbirn after noting two assists in his first game and victory on Friday. Dustin had over 11 hours on the bus to meet his new friends, discover various new card games and bond with team mates. Which looks like he did pretty good as he went to score another goal on Sunday and then proceeded to toss in a GWG in OT and getting 4 points in just 2 games. 

Anže Kopitar #11 (right)

The guy that spent lots of hours on the bus this weekend was Slovenian forward Anže Kopitar (LA Kings), who playes with his baby brother in Swedish second league club Mora. Kopitar brothers enjoyed a 10 hour bus ride together. Anze has 10 points in 8 games, while his brother Gašper (20 y/o) has 5 in 10 games. 

And while everyone thought Eric Condra's signing for a German 3rd league club EV Fussen was top story of the day NHL brought a new offer to the bargaining table. 50:50 HRR and a ball in NHLPA's court.

I can only say that European fans are praying that NHLPA doesn't take this one. Its just getting fun getting the guys over the Pond.

Brought to you by ...over the Pond! crew.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Welcome to ..over the Pond

Welcome all to a new blog - Hockey over the Pond!

Here, at this place on internet we will be covering a wide area of hockey related topics. Our primary focus will be however middle European league "Erste Bank Eishockey Liga" - EBEL and Croatian club participating in it KHL Medveščak Zagreb. The idea is to regularly touch basis and report on topics concerning the league, clubs and players all over the world that played, are playing and could possibly help into developing this league into an even bigger asset of European ice hockey.

12 clubs from five countries, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, compete in this league with a single idea in mind: winning an EBEL Championship. Players from all over world playing and competing for a spot on ice in clubs from as West as Dornbirn and as East as Szekesfehervar, from Znojmo in North to Zagreb in South. Eight Austrian clubs, one Czech, one Hungarian, one Slovenian and one Croatian.

The league has grown this year to 12 clubs, from last year's 11, with newest additions being Dorbirner EC and HC Innsbruck while HK Acroni Jesenice dropped out. But that is not the story of this season. The main story is a lockout in NHL. Players are not able to compete in NHL due to a problem with NHLPA - player's association and club owners, the collective bargaining agreement has run out on 15th of September and until a new one is signed, no one can play in NHL.

How does this problem relate to EBEL league and overall - non american hockey? Well, many of the players, who wish to play, are going overseas, to Europe and Russia. EBEL is not immune to the charms of these players and so far seven have joined clubs in the league. Biggest name to play this season surely is Thomas Vanek, a prodigal son, returning to Graz, his hometown.

Thomas Vanek

Vanek, a star in Buffalo Sabers was the first NHL star player to sign in EBEL. With his star status came the fans, and hockey histeria in Austria and especially in Graz. With his first home game played on 5th of October as much as over 400 jerseys have been sold in "Bunker" ice rink in Graz. With attendance just over 4 000 that means that every 10th fan bought a "Vanek #20" jersey. 

However, first player to join EBEL was a young Slovenian forward playing for Detroit Red Wings Jan Muršak. Muršak joined HDD Olimpija Ljubljana and has so far proven as a noticeable addition to the team with 5 games and 12 points, two of which are goals (one shorthanded). 

Jan Muršak

Just a day later on 2nd of October, another big news! Another Austrian forward playing in NHL signed with an EBEL club. This time it was Innsbruck's turn to get into the spotlight and introduce their newest addition to the team - Andreas Nödl.
Andreas Nödl

The 3rd NHL player to join the EBEL was Michael Grabner. NHL All Star Rookie team member decided to return home to his youth team and play EC VSV from Villach. A big forward, 34 and 20 goal scorer in NHL for NY Islanders is so far a tremendous addition for the Eagles from Villach - in his two games he scored twice, and posting an assist. Most noticeable was his first goal. He scored a shorthanded goal which has become his trademark in Islanders alongside his skating skills.

Orli Znojmo, a Czech team, signed Chicago Blackhawks' winger Bryan Bickell, UPC Vienna Capitals added a defensman to their roster Correy Potter while the latest addition to the league signed for Klagenfurt. Tyler Myers will strengthen the defense of EC KAC. 

KHL Medveščak Zagreb opted for a player on a position they need, a center player. Pittsburgh Penguins' 2007 6th round pick Dustin Jeffrey joined the team on Wednesday and just two days later was a MVP of the game against decimated Orli Znojmo assisting on both Medvescak goals that night and providing a skill set much needed to Zagreb's team.  

Dennis Bozic, Kenny MacAulay, Kyle Greentree, Adam Naglich and Dustin Jeffrey

In a first month of NHL Lockout seven players have opted to play in EBEL. Will there be more? Probably, especially if the lockout lasts and it looks like it just might. 

Next game day is already tomorrow, and the only NHLer who might miss it is Bickell, but looks like that will be a game day decision. Medveščak is traveling to far West and Dornbirn, and the bus was without some of injured or ill players. Slovenian trio Gal Koren, Andrej Hebar and star goaltender Robert Kristan will all miss the Sunday's game, just like forward Alex Leavitt who still has not produced as much as was expected of him. Nothing but two points is expected from a two-day road trip, and the first line Kyle Greentree - Dustin Jeffrey - Adam Naglich is expected to start producing especially on powerplay which is league 2nd worst. 

Servus TV and Red Bull Media House will be broadcasting the game Klagenfurt, a derby between EC KAC and EC VSV at 17:45 or A game between SAPA Fehervar AV19 and Moser Medical Graz99ers is live on Hungarian sports TV, Sportklub. 

Rest of the games will be updated LIVE via EBEL live ticket at

Until the next post, 

brought to you by ...over the Pond!