New foursome joins E.H.C. Alliance

New foursome joins E.H.C. Alliance

The Alliance of European Hockey Clubs welcomes four new clubs as of the 2022/23 season:

  • HK Dukla Trenčín (SVK)
  • HC Slovan Bratislava (SVK)
  • HC Pustertal (ITA)
  • Löwen Frankfurt (GER)

HC Pusteral becomes the E.H.C.’s first club from Italy. The Alliance is approaching its goal of 100 member clubs.

“We are obviously very excited to add these four clubs to the Alliance,” said E.H.C. Managing Director Szymon Szemberg. “All four clubs come from countries and regions which are vital to the development of professional club hockey in Europe.

“With Dukla and Slovan, we are welcoming two traditional clubs from Slovakia, a country which now senses a resurgence in its hockey after some lean years. With HC Pustertal we have finally entered the Italian market and Löwen Frankfurt is the newly promoted DEL club from one of Europe’s main financial centres,” said Szemberg.

Following is a short presentation of the four new members in the E.H.C. Alliance:

HK DUKLA TRENČÍN: The club from western Slovakia, near the Czech border, is celebrating its 60-year anniversary in 2022. Founded in 1962 in the former Czechoslovakia, Dukla Trenčín has four national titles. The first one was captured in 1992, when still playing in the Czechoslovak league, only two years prior to the founding of the Slovak league. The three Slovak titles were won in 1994, 1997 and 2004.

Some of Slovak hockey’s biggest stars have represented Trenčín: Pavol Demitra, Marián Gáborík, Žigmund Pálffy, Róbert Petrovický, Zdeno Cíger, Ľubomír Sekeráš, Oto Haščák and Ján Pardavý, who is the club’s all-time leading scorer with 515 points in 606 games. The club, which last played in the Slovak finals in 2018, finished ninth in the league in the 2021/22 season. Former NHL players Róbert Döme and Branko Radivojevič are head coach and sports director, respectively.

HC SLOVAN BRATISLAVA: One of Europe’s most accomplished and well-known hockey clubs celebrated its 100th season in 1921. Just like their rival Dukla Trenčín, Slovan has one national championship from the Czechoslovak times (1979) but nine Slovak titles, with the latest coming very timely in the centennial season. In the third year back in the Slovak league, following a seven-year stint in the Russian KHL, Slovan defeated HK Nitra in six games in the finals. It was a huge comeback season for the Bratislava club which also won the regular season, four points ahead of Zvolen.

Slovan is one of few clubs that has taken part in virtually every European club competition, starting with the Spengler Cup in the 1970s, the inaugural European Cup in 1979, followed by the European Hockey League and the Continental Cup in the '90s and 2000, the European Champions Cup 2005 and 2007, the European Trophy, and the first edition of the Champions Hockey League (2008/09). Slovan will represent Slovakia in the 2022/23 CHL.

HC PUSTERTAL: The club from Italy’s South Tyrol province was founded in 1954 as EV Bruneck (Brunico in Italian), a town of some 16 000 inhabitants, who by a vast majority speak German as their first language. HC Pustertal plays in the Austrian-dominated ICE Hockey League, where its traditional South Tyrol rival HC Bolzano also takes part. The club was six times Italian Serie A runner-up (last in 2018). By then, the club had also joined the Alps League in 2016/17 where it reached the finals in 2019.

The club was ready for the next challenge in 2021 when HCP joined the major ICE League (previously EBEL) and the first 21/22 season went beyond expectations: a fine fifth place in the regular season and also qualified for the playoffs before losing in the quarter-finals. Martin Crepaz is the club’s cult player, and had his number 4 retired after 22 seasons and 863 games for the Wolves (1980-2004). Max Oberrauch and Armin Helfer are other regional heroes who also have represented Italy internationally.

LÖWEN FRANKFURT: Although ice hockey has been played in Frankfurt since the early 1930s, professional hockey has had its challenges. Following Eintracht Frankfurt (1959-1991), Frankfurter ESC (1991-1994) and the Frankfurt Lions (1994-2010) Die Löwen were born the same year as the Lions went out of business. After humble beginnings, working its way up from the German fourth division, the new Frankfurt hockey organization reached the second-tier DEL2 in 2014.

Despite winning the DEL2 in 2017, Löwen Frankfurt continued to build a solid financial and sporting base before taking the big leap following the 2021/22. That season, Die Löwen won the regular season and swept through the playoffs, winning 12 consecutive games, including 4-0 in games over Ravensburg in the DEL2 finals and earned a promotion to the Penny DEL, where they will begin playing in 2022/23. The team plays out of the 7000-capacity Eissporthalle Frankfurt.

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