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: Vienna Capitals.
What has happened to the Capitals? What are the strengths and weaknesses? And what can you expect from the Viennese? The answers:
That was going on in the summer
In chronological order and without comment: Even if the commitments were of course a long time back, the departures of Ty Loney, Ali Wukovits and Benjamin Nissner known to Salzburg within a few days in May. Marco Richter then followed after a short time to Villach, where the strongest defender Jerome Leduc (initially) oriented himself.
The resignations of captain Mario Fischer, Julian Großlercher and Patrick Peter came to light in June, and it soon became clear that legionnaires like Colin Campbell and Taylor Vause (after five years) no longer had a future. The crowd favorite Raffi Rotter said goodbye to Linz in July after failing to reach an agreement with the club.
Two weeks before the start of training, coach Dave Cameron said “I’ll be gone”. As a consequence, Fischer immediately withdrew his resignation and GM Franz Kalla found the Cameron successor with Dave Barr relatively quickly.
Towards the end of the preparation, new signing Jordan Caron retired, but his successor Nicolai Meyer came immediately.
Strengths and weaknesses of the squad
Enough of the departures, to the people who are there:
Bernhard Starkbaum and David Kickert form the Austrian goalie duo, with Kickert acting stronger recently, but Starkbaum can claim a good second half from last season. Can this duo steal tight games from the caps? For Kickert (27) it could be the last chance to establish himself as No. 1 in the league.
On the defensive, it initially looked as if puck bearer Alex Wall would have to shoulder the offensive alone, as Matt Prapavessis (not very agile) will not be able to duplicate his numbers from Denmark and Norway. Shawn Lalonde as a proven power play specialist and king transfer came a little later. The rest of the Defender crew doesn’t promise any major offensive outliers.
In the attack it looks qualitatively and quantitatively less tight: For months a top center has been sought that can take the pressure off Matt Neal (most recently in the DEL2 average) and Brody Sutter. Cliff Pu is a U24 legionnaire with strong legs and a good physique – can he take on a scorer role in the ICE and does he have to move into the middle? Then there are Nicolai Meyer and Corey Tropp, a wing that gets its points with strength and energy. Both are currently the biggest scorer hopes. A Ty Loney who decided a few games alone is currently not to be found.
I only mentioned the legionnaires on purpose, because there is more attached to them than ever in Vienna. Here are the three best Austrians: Defensive: Hackl, Fischer, Piff (Lakos shouldn’t play a regular role, which has been said for years).
Offensive: Hartl, Antal, Kromp or Bauer. Even if Hartl can repeat his last season and Antal makes another jump, it is very thin, especially on the offensive, and can be compared positively with only a very few Austrian teams.
Interesting personal details
Shawn Lalonde was always a noticeable figure in the DEL. He’s not afraid to carry the target and is usually a force in power play with his shot. Did he keep that in the KHL? Conversely, the Capitals must first kill his and Charlie Dodero’s punishments.
Brody Sutter’s role can guide the way in cutting the caps. A large body around the gate, but with stone hands and slow footwork. In a good team it should be number 3 in the depth chart, especially in the PK. Anything beyond that is at your own risk. The pivot that has yet to be picked up has to push him and Neal backwards, the current center axis cannot be enough.
Nicolai Meyer is a very conspicuous wing – good speed, a lot of energy and also closing ability. More of an instinct than a system player, he often reaches his limits when it comes to bigger tasks (A-WM, SHL), but has always been a factor in the Allsvenskan and the Liiga. In any case, offensive he should help the caps more than Jordan Caron, who already missed chance after chance in Villach.
Such a mass exodus as this year is normally reserved for those who are lagging behind the table, the Austrian core of the caps is pretty parched, almost every legionnaire has to hit it. Biggest question: where is the offensive supposed to come from? I expect a few more personnel damage during the season. The caps have to be careful not to get caught in a downward spiral right from the start, which would not be a surprise after preparing for a few debacles. There are too many good teams in the league for the top 6 to be a sure-fire success.
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