Following a successful Round 1.1 event in Barcelona earlier this month, the Euro Hockey League has arrived in Paris for Round 1.2, which takes begins this Friday in the picturesque suburb of St-Germain-en-Laye.
Round 1.1 in Barcelona witnessed eight teams progress through to next Easter’s prestigious KO16 tournament, with Atlétic Terrassa (ESP), Reading HC (ENG), RC Polo (ESP), Waterloo Ducks (BEL), H.C. Rotterdam (NED), Pembroke Wanderers (IRL), UHC Hamburg (GER) and WKS Grunwald Poznan (POL) all reaching the second phase of the competition.
This weekend’s event at St Germain HC will see the 12 more of Europe’s finest teams featuring some of the world’s best players fighting it out for the eight remaining places in Round 2, which features the clubs drawn into Pools A, C, D and F. Each Pool consists of three teams that play each other once over the three day event, with the two highest ranked sides progressing into the next round and the third placed team being eliminated from the competition.
Pool A: Der Club an der Alster (GER), Rotweiss Wettingen (SUI) & HC Bloemendaal (NED)
Team to watch: HC Bloemendaal
Germany’s Der Club an der Alster and Rotweiss Wettingen of Switzerland are two teams that have excellent squads of players, but they will have to be at the top of their game if they are to deny reigning Euro Hockey League champions HC Bloemendaal a place in the second Round. Alster have been boosted by the arrival of Canadian internationals Scott Tupper and Mark Pearson, while Maurice Brozzo, Michael Kloter and impressive goalkeeper Patrick Egloff bring considerable international experience to Rotweiss Wettingen. However, HC Bloemendaal’s outstanding attacking trio of Teun de Nooijer, Jamie Dwyer and Ronald Brouwer is arguably the most feared forward line in the competition, making them favourites to progress into Round 2 as Pool winners.
Pool C: East Grinstead HC (ENG), KS AZS AWF Poznan (POL) & Amsterdam H&BC (NED)
Team to watch: Amsterdam H&BC
Amsterdam were eliminated from last season’s competition at the Quarter Final stage by countrymen H.C. Rotterdam, but have ambitions to lift the Alain Danet trophy this time around. Sadly they will be without Spanish superstar Santi Freixa who is still recovering from knee surgery, but the signing of Dutch international Rob Reckers from Orange Zwart will go some way to filling the considerable space created by Freixa’s unavailability. East Grinstead are another team that reached the Quarter Final stage in last season’s tournament, only to be defeated by eventual champions HC Bloemendaal. The team lead by former Great Britain Olympian Mark Pearn is aiming to go even further this season. The KS AZS AWF Poznan team is a newcomer to the EHL and consists purely of students from Poznan’s University of Physical Education. Polish international Tomasz Gorny is the star of the show, and will be hoping to guide his team into the second Round.
Pool D: Club Egara (ESP), HC Bra (ITA) & Rot-Weiss Köln (GER)
Team to Watch: Rot-Weiss Köln
Three seasons ago, Rot-Weiss Köln were in the second tier of German hockey. However, their fortunes changed with the arrival of a number of world class players, amongst them being Germany captain Timo Wess and the most famous siblings in hockey – Philip and Christopher Zeller. Having claimed an indoor and outdoor double last season in Germany, Rot-Weiss now want to be crowned Euro Hockey League champions. It is the ultimate challenge for the team, but with a squad that includes no less than seven Olympic Gold Medallists there can be little doubt that they are serious contenders for the title. However, their first priority will be negotiating their way through a tricky group featuring Italian champions HC Bra and the in-form Club Egara of Spain. Egara lost a number of star players over the summer including Edi Tubau, Guillermo Schickendantz as well as David and Ramon Alegre, but the new-look team is performing well and any side featuring legendary Spain striker Pol Amat can never be under-estimated.
Pool F: St Germain HC (FRA), KHC Leuven (BEL) & Beeston HC (ENG)
Team to watch: St. Germain HC
This Pool is definitely the toughest one to predict, as three evenly matched teams fight for a place in Round 2. French champions St Germain have the edge due to their home advantage, but Belgian runners-up KHC Leuven are a team that reached the semi finals of last season’s Euro Hockey League and will be aiming for a repeat showing this season. Sadly they will have to do it without star striker Pau Quemada, who has joined Spanish giants RC de Polo de Barcelona. Beeston are also a team not to be under-estimated, with Great Britain internationals Martin Jones, Ali Wilson and goalkeeper George Pinner all determined to make a name for their club in Europe this season. St Germain themselves are a talented and exceptionally fit group of players who have performed excellently in previous editions of the EHL, ensuring that they will not just be relying on a vociferous home crowd to guide them to success.
The Euro Hockey League has gained a reputation as a testing ground for new regulations and technology, with the “self pass” and video umpire referrals both proving to be popular additions to the event last season. The Green Card two minute suspension – recently introduced by the FIH to a number of upcoming World Level events – also began life in the EHL. This season, the competition is trialling a rule which allows the scoring of own goals, another bold move by the organizers of the competition. On Sunday 11th October during Round 1.1 in Barcelona, Atlétic Terrassa’s Spanish international defender Xavi Ribas became the first player in the history of the game to score an own goal when he deflected into his own net against Reading.
www.ehlhockey.tv - the official website of the Euro Hockey League - will be broadcasting the action from this weekend’s event in Paris via its live streaming service. All twelve matches will be broadcasted live over three days of competition. It is your chance to watch arguably the world`s finest club competition being televised in the best way possible, with incredible close-ups, stunning camera angles and video replays all adding to the experience. Match commentary for every game will be supplied by Eurosport’s hockey expert Nick Irvine.
A full summary of the Round 1.1 action will appear here on the FIH website at the end of each tournament day.
For more information about the Euro Hockey League, please visit www.ehlhockey.tv
EHL Round 1.2 – St Germain HC, Paris (FRA), 23 - 25 October 2009
Schedule (all times are local – GMT +1)
Friday 23 October 2009
14.30 hrs Pool D Club Egara v HC Bra
16.30 hrs Pool C East Grinstead HC v KS AWF Poznań
18.30 hrs Pool A Der Club an der Alster v HC Rotweiss Wettingen
20.30 hrs Pool F St Germain HC v KHC Leuven
Saturday 24 October 2009
10.30 hrs Pool D Rot-Weiss Köln HC v HC Bra
12.30 hrs Pool A HC Bloemendaal v HC Rotweiss Wettingen
14.30 hrs Pool C East Grinstead HC v Amsterdam H&BC
16.30 hrs Pool F Beeston HC v KHC Leuven
Sunday 25 October 2009
10.30 hrs Pool D Rot-Weiss Köln HC v Club Egara
12.30 hrs Pool C Amsterdam H&BC v KS AWF Poznań
14.30 hrs Pool A HC Bloemendaal v Der Club an der Alster
16.30 hrs Pool F St Germain HC v Beeston HC
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