On Friday (September 17th) the ICE Hockey League starts into a new era.
After the league expansion, 14 teams will go puck hunting in the national league in the new season. LAOLA1-Scout Bernd Freimüller takes a close look at all clubs. Checked out today: EC Red Bull Salzburg.
What has happened to the runner-up, who is prematurely in the knockout phase of the Champions League, in the summer? What are the strengths and weaknesses? And what can you expect from the Salzburgers? The answers:
That was going on in the summer
Anyone wondering which of the two divergent philosophies of the last season (promotion of academy players / victories with maximum number of legionnaires) would last this year soon knew: The internal league obligations of Ali Wukovits, Benjamin Nissner and Ty Loney were tied down just as early as Peter Schneider’s return to Austria. Then followed with TJ Brennan, Vincent LoVerde and Jan-Mikael Järvinen legionnaires with the potential to become absolute league sizes.
The route for coach Matt McIlvane can only be championship title, the Red Bulls last appeared so aggressively on the transfer market during Pierre Page’s time.
Strengths and weaknesses of the squad
In any case, the team shouldn’t fail on the offensive, Loney and Schneider are absolute goal guarantors, Järvinen a brilliant passer-by. Thomas Raffl should have at least another good season in itself, plus Wukovits, Nissner, and maybe Flo Baltram with a further improvement in performance – the bull offensive could be spread over at least three lines. Then there are Brennan, LoVerde and Heinrich from the blue line.
McIlvane will be challenged to distribute the Ice Age well, but has already found a very strong PP block during the preparation. Schneider, Loney and Raffl are all final players with strengths around the goal, here too the coach is challenged so that they do not interfere with each other.
With all the offensive brilliance that should be enough to dominate the regular season: Are there enough Indians in the squad in the playoffs who can hold against a suffocating team like the KAC? Brennan, Heinrich, Järvinen, Loney, Schneider or Raffl – none of them are known for their contributions in their own third.
JP Lamoureux was often the savior for a team with limited offense two years ago. In the preseason, however, he weakened tremendously, his body language – always a strength – often even appeared despondent. At the age of 37 and injured at the start of the season – can he deliver one last hurray?
With all offensive, it will also need one or the other key save, be it from him or his (possible) replacement. Does one only come for a short time or for the whole season? I cannot imagine that you would fully trust Nicolas Wieser for a long time after you had completely sidelined him a season ago.
Interesting personal details
TJ Brennan was an offensive guarantor in the AHL for years, his reputation was more that of a fourth striker. For an NHL career, his Playstation numbers were not enough due to his defensive weaknesses. His specialty: drifting into the slot when the puck comes from the side or back gate and a strong wrist shot. Expect tons of points and a dominant PP crack. Vincent LoVerde is also a respected AHL veteran who is expected to have an impact on both sides of the ice like Brent Regner once did
As “fake” legionaries (two points each), the two Germans Danjo Leonhardt and Jakub Borzecki are academy products that, like Filip Varejcka, should take up regular positions in the previous year. Leonhardt is a clever center with scoring potential, Borzecki, on the other hand, only has a limited offensive, but a league-suitable physique. Can any of the other academy or farm team players like Philipp Wimmer, Paul Stapelfeldt, Oskar Maier, Lucas Thaler or Aljaz Predan cling to the rest of the season like Kilian Zündel, Paul Huber or Tim Harnisch last season?
How ridiculous the dual citizenship rule of the ICE is becomes evident in Salzburg in particular. Despite having an Austrian passport, Peter Hochkofler is considered a legionnaire, while Aljaz Predan is not considered a legionnaire without one (ice hockey Austrian). No wonder that Hochkofler (currently awarded four points) will fight this regulation in court …
Keegan Kanzig (a long-time ECHL regular) was the last new addition to the Legionnaires, the two-meter man is said to be the rough counterpart to the many offensive artists. Is his physique sufficient as a deterrent? Experience in the ICE shows: Physically strong players are often punished for checks that have no consequences in other leagues. Players like him then either tear open many penalties or castrate themselves, but then have no skill set to fall back on. Can Kanzig break this tradition?
Anything but a permanent top 2 place would not be acceptable with this squad …
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