Welcome the Moser Medical Graz 99ers! The club from Austria’s second-largest city is the newest and 85th member club of the Alliance of European Hockey Clubs. Graz, who finished second in the EBEL regular-season standings, enters the E.H.C. Alliance after also qualifying for the Champions Hockey League for the first time.
“We are really happy to welcome the Graz 99ers to the European club community,” said E.H.C. President Marc Lüthi. “Austria and the EBEL are very important to European hockey as we see lots of growth potential in both.”
Adds E.H.C. Managing Director Szymon Szemberg:
“We have had contact with the club for some time now, and obviously the timing became optimal when Graz, after such a splendid season, qualified for the Champions Hockey League. A club which feels that they are part of Europe and part of its premier club competition is obviously more enthusiastic to also join the E.H.C.”
Bernd Vollmannis the CEO of the Graz 99ers:
“We have had contacts with the E.H.C. Alliance for some time and we were looking for a good opportunity to join”, said Vollmann. “And now, after this successful EBEL season where we also qualified for the Champions Hockey League, we feltthat the timing was right.”
“We look forward to work with the other member clubs to strengthen the position of European club hockey”, said Vollmann. “We took already part in the joint CHL and E.H.C. season-ending events in Prague and we see how good it is to meet executives from other clubs and leagues, to network and to learn from each other.”
The 2018/19 season was the best in nine years for the fairly young hockey club. After either bowing out in the quarterfinals or being out of the playoffs for the last nine year, the 99ers had their best season since 2009/10.
Led by veterans like Colton Yellow Horn, Ty Loney, Dwight King and defenceman Oliver Setzinger(captain) and Matt Caito, and backstopped by goaltender Robin Rahm, Graz edged the Vienna Capitals for the basic regular-season win (44 rounds) and finished second behind Vienna in the 10-game so-called “Pick Round”, before losing in four straight against eventual champion Klagenfurt in the semi-finals.
In the Group Stage of the Champions Hockey League, the Graz 99ers have drawn reigning champion Frölunda Indians (SWE), Mountfield HK (CZE) and the Cardiff Devils (GBR). One interesting twist is that Graz assistant coach Jens Gustafsson is from Gothenburg and has been a junior and assistant coach with Frölunda. Also, off-season signee forward Sebastian Collberg played with Frölunda from 2010 to 2014.
As the name indicates, the club was founded as late as 1999, and as often is the case in European ice hockey, it was born out of consequences from financial challenges, when predecessor EHC Graz folded due to strained economics.
It was the entrepreneur Jochen Pildner-Steinburg who was behind the foundation of a new club structure in Graz, and he is still assuming the role as the club’s president.
The Alliance of European Hockey Clubs welcomes the Moser Medical Graz 99ers to the community.