Day 99 of the NHL lockout, and there is no end in site. Europe, on the other hand, is continuing to bring the great game to the world, and Croatia’s KHL Medveščak is leading the charge.
The Bears, who play in Austria’s Erste Bank Ice Hockey League (EBEL), are Croatia’s lone representative in European hockey. The team has recently been slated to join Russia’s KHL next season, and are well on their way to prove their worth in what is considered to be the world’s second strongest hockey league.
Medveščak spent this past week on top of the EBEL table, and are trying to hold on in order to win their first league title.
The team traveled to Vienna on Sunday to meet the co-leaders in the league for a battle to see who will spend Christmas in first place. The Bears entered the game on a four-game unbeaten streak. The streak started after an embarrassing loss of 11-2 against EC VSV, but turned their form back into winning ways, climbing to the top of the table for the second time this season.
The team was without two key players in Vienna. Dustin Jeffery of the Pittsburgh Penguins has extended his contract with the Bears. He originally agreed to join only until January, but in lieu of the NHL lockout, Jeffery decided to stay but has taken some time off to go home with family and participate in NHL mediation talks.
Tom Zanoški has parted with the team after 29 games played and scoring 10 goals for the Bears. He and the Bears have parted on good terms, but will not state the reason for his departure. He joined Austrian club EC-KAC.
Medvescak took an early lead on Sunday when David Brine scored his ninth goal of the season after 14 minutes of play.
Michael Ouzas, who is third in the league in save percentage, kept a clean sheet through the first period, but was beaten twice in four minutes in the second.
The Bears were unable to get another goal, and finished the game with a loss of 2-1.
The Bears are now two points out of first place, but have a chance to regain their place at the top on Wednesday when they take on Vienna again, this time in Zagreb.
ERSTE BANK ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE, 33. KOLO UPC VIENNA CAPITALS – KHL MEDVEŠČAK 2:1 (0:1, 2:0, 0:0)
VIENNA – Albert Schultz Eishalle. Spectators 5650. Referees: Dremelj, Smetana, Hütter, Lešnjak.
0:1 MED Brine (Greentree, Sertich, 14)
1:1 VIC Keller (Blatny, A. Lakos, 25)
2:1 VIC Pinter (J. Fraser, Schlacher, 29)
UPC VIENNA CAPITALS: Zaba, Weinhandl, Bjornlie, A. Lakos, Keller, Blatny, Rotter, J. Fraser, Veideman, Olsson, Soares, Schiechl, Klimbacher, P. Lakos, Schlacher, Pinter, Woger, Peter, Nador, Schweda, Draschkowitz.
KHL MEDVEŠČAK: Ouzas, Kristan, Letang, Waugh, Koren, Brine, Bouchard, Sertich, MacAulay, Greentree, Buck, Perkovich, Martinović, Bozic, Miller, Naglich, C. Fraser, Vedlin, Trstenjak, Yelovich, Kostović.
PENALTIES: Vienna 10, Medveščak 12.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Vienna 30, Medveščak 26.
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Hockey may be only US, Canada, and Europe, which doesn’t make it a “world” sport like soccer, but internationally it’s a lot more competitive than int’l basketball. More than 2 or 3 countries can compete for trophies.
good plan Zija, and good luck in Hrvatska, definitely keep us posted! I lived a long time in London too, so I know that the Knights are huge there… just stay away from Jim Bob Rae’s 🙂
I’ll disagree on the statement that hockey is more of a world sport than basketball. Just have to look at the number of countries that have no ice/snow.
Hockey is Europe, Canada and the US.
I love watching the sport and miss not having the NHL around.
@JM – I have to say, I think hockey is more of a world sport that basketball is. Look at the distribution of talent between countries and their national teams. Powerhouses such as Russia, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Canada, an the US consistently produce top talent and play competitively in national tournaments. Can’t say that for a lot of nations when it comes to basketball.
I understand your point, though. All you need to basketball is a ball, a court, and a hoop, as opposed to hockey where you need an ice arena and hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of equipment. I still think hockey is a real viable option for a lot of young athletes in Europe.
@Zija – Pretty cool, man. OHL and NCAA hockey are both pretty good options and lead to better hockey. Good luck with all of that.
right now I’m playing for the london knights OHL farm team because I’m not of age to play in the league till next year. However,I would have a good chance of playing in the OHL next year. The thing is, if i played in the OHL it takes away my eligibility for NCAA hockey which I don’t want to do. And I’ve always wanted to play in Croatia so this is my chance. Working out the fine details right now. Will keep you posted
@ ziva . there are some speedy hockey players sub 6 feet that could make for good soccer playes. not to mention some 6’4” once that could help on the backline or in goal, so i do think there is a cross in the talent pool
this statement will annoy some people (mainly those who have played hockey), but i prefer croatia’s focus to be on the highest level of sport (arguably soccer and basketball). [exclude american football from what i’m about to say cause its not a worldwide sport]. basketball and soccer arguably have the greatest athletes in the world as a whole because they are the most popular and lucrative, and b/c those sports are the most playable by the world’s population (no prohibitive costs, need for it to be cold, or the ability to find a rink like hockey needs). not to say that there aren’t great athletes in hockey, and some world class ones. but in the end, if the world’s population focused on hockey like it does basketball and soccer, there’s a good chance many of the nhl players wouldn’t be playing in the league. the same can’t necessarily be said about basketball or soccer. so when croatia has limited resourcs (money and population), i prefer it focusing its energy competing in the sports where there are the best of the best (soccer and basketball). b/c at the end of the day, its nice to win at waterpolo, but its not as meaningful as the headline sports
I don’t think the hockey pool will take talent from any other sport. Plus, Medvescak is the only properly run sports club in the country now. Forget basketball, it would be smart for kids to start focusing on hockey anyway.
Their move to the KHL will be interesting. The only big problem is the travel. They have the talent to compete in the league, but they don’t have the money to justify the extensive travel schedule to Russia all the time. They have the fans as well, but they are going to need some big time sponsors next season if they want to see any kind of profit.
@Zija – That’s really awesome to hear about you and Medvescak. Would like to be updated on how that goes for you. Where are you playing now? Consider playing in the OHL until then?
the guys playing hockey are not guys who would succeed in soccer. Maybe water polo and basketball.
this is a cool story. in the end, i hope hockey doesn’t become a big thing in croatia or successful national team. ultimately the country only has so many people and resources. i much prefer its people being focused on sports such as basketball and soccer. a focus on more sports just dilutes the talent going to these headline sports
I’m a 16 year old Canadian living in Ontario and have just worked out details to play for Medvescak 2 next year. Very excited for the change, and hoping to get a call up to the national team after my second year
Tom Zanoški suddenly leaves Medveščak and signs with a rival team? That’s wierd.
Anyway, good for Medveščak on the season. Hopefully they do join the KHL one day (assuming they can be competitive in that league).
A Croatian national hockey team that plays in the “A” group would be nice to see in the future. We’ve got the genetics for it. People just needs to actually start playing the sport. Medveščak is starting something positive in this area.
Very cool, didn’t know about the KHL aspect, i think that’d be awesome. Maybe we produce a decent national team in time.
Sretan Bozic all!