On Friday, September 17th, the ICE Hockey League starts into a new era.
After the league expansion, 14 teams are now on the hunt for pucks and points in the national league. LAOLA1-Scout Bernd Freimüller takes a close look at all teams. Checked out today: Bratislava Capitals.
What has happened to the Slovaks? What are the strengths and weaknesses? And what can one expect from the capital city dwellers? The answers:
That was going on in the summer
Compared to last season, almost all legionnaires’ positions were newly occupied, only Brett Carson (who came very late last year) stayed or was allowed to stay. Ryan Culkin (Znojmo) and Mitch Hults (TPS Turku) are likely to get lost the most.
Six of the locals also lost their jobs and had to be replaced. In other words: 16 new names, including ten legionaries.
In contrast to last season, when the level of the ICE was completely underestimated and then one foreigner after the other was signed up over the course of the season, manager Dusan Pasek at least tried to do it right away To provide a full roster at the beginning of the season. Significant: From the team that started last season, exactly five men remained with backup goalie Samuel Baros, defender Martin Chovan and the attackers David Buc, Roman Faith and Dennis Hudec. A rotation unprecedented in the league.
Strengths and weaknesses of the squad
Connor LaCovee is the new firsts goalie, after a typical AHL / ECHL existence he got to know Slovakia through a short guest appearance at Dukla Trencin. He made a good impression in preparation.
Next to Chovan are in the defensivee four legionaries and only zeroPunkter – no wonder, the Capitals battled the whole last season with the upper limit of points. Sam Jardine and ex-Innsbrucker Luc Snuggerud should most likely be able to get involved offensively, Snuggerud may have recovered from his concussions in recent years, but the last time he completed something like a full season in 2017/18.
There are only twelve names in the attack, one or two Slovaks have to join in here. Since people like Buc, Hudec, actually also the newcomer David Bondra (a very good skater and PK-Guy) promise little offensive, one has to hope for a corresponding production of the legionnaires. But expect more squad damage over the course of the season.
Interesting personal details
What Sergey Kostitsyn was towards the end of last season is Nikolai Zherdev this year: a once great name with NHL experience, who has recently been almost continuously in his retirement (nine games in the last three seasons!). Can such an experiment work? Even in his best days, Zherdev had a reputation for being a very capricious loner. The fact that he was once drafted as the fourth player is a story journalists like to highlight, but it might as well be carved on stone tablets: that was 2003!
It is always dangerous to want to forecast individual performances for the season based on the test matches. Summer ice hockey remains summer ice hockey. But Marc-Olivier Roy made a very strong impression and seems to be able to create offensive with good hands. The Swede Tor Immo (a name like a Bond villain!) Confirmed his reputation from the Allsvenskan as a brilliant PP playmaker from the right Halfwall.
The Capitals could again be a work in progress and change significantly in terms of personnel during the season. In the summer, however, they weren’t as naive as they were last season. Coach Peter Draisaitl proved to be a pragmatic man in the preseason, his team could find themselves on the pre-playoff places without putting their hands on the fire.
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