Tonight is the first night of games in this years European Trophy.
Will Eisbären Berlin be able to defend the title they won last September in Salzburg? A first hint comes already on the first day of play in this years tournament when the team from the German capital visits Gothenburg and Frölunda Indians.
”Our goal is to defend the title. We have a team capable of winning every game and that’s the goal we set before every game we play” says head-coach Don Jackson.
For both teams it’s the first game of the season. ”So we expect a tough game, and hope for a good crowd” says Christian Lechtaler, assistant coach of Frölunda.
Berlin is on of six teams from European capitals that will play on the first night of games in the European Trophy, but together with Slavia Prague, they are the only one starting away from home. Slavia Prague will make it a capital meeting tough as they face off against Swedish team Djurgården in Stockholm. Slavia coach Vladimir Ruzicka – who won both Olympic goal and gold in the World Championship as a player – expects a tough game and he will mainly focus on the way the team plays, not so much on the scoreline. ”I can not say with which result we would like to return to Prague after the games in Sweden and Finland this weekend. Most important is to see how we play” says Ruzicka.
Slavias archrivals from Prague, Sparta, will also start their campaign Thursday night, but the only Czech team entering their second year in the European Trophy will start at home. They take on last years finalists, Swedish HV 71. For Sparta it will be the third game of the season. After defeats against Liberec and Chomutov they won 1–0 against Mlada Boleslav last Friday.
Tonights game will be an even harder test for Sparta. ”HV has a really good offence and we will have to work hard, but it’s the start of the pre-season for all teams so results from last season doesn’t matter now” says Sparta goalie Tomas Pöpperle. He continues: ”The European Trophy is a good way to prepare for the league season, very tough and competative games and we want to make the best possible result and not let our fans down.”
Pragues neighbouring capitals, Vienna and Bratislava will also host games on the opening night. Finnish Oulun Kärpät will visit the Austrain capital. ”Every game in the European Trophy is a like a play-off-game in the domestic league and we can not have a better way to prepare for the league-season” says new Viennacoach Tommy Samuelsson (picture). ”This will be a great game to watch for our homefans.” And Vienna can expect a good crowd. Last night already, 2 200 tickets were sold for the game.
Kärpäts Finnish compatriots KalPa – also a newcomer to the tournament – will be the first team to play a ET-game in Slovakia as they face Slovan Bratislava.
Two more games make the schedule for the first night of games, both involving Swedish teams. Linköping travel to the Czech Republic to play Pojistovna Pardubice and reigning Swedish champions Färjestad will host the game against Red Bull Salzburg, the team that will host the play-offs in December.
There you have the seven games that make up the first night of play in the European Trophy 2011. All in all, 96 games will be played before it is decided which eight teams will make up the Red Bull Salute in Salzburg and Vienna on December 16-18.
The best way to follow all action in the tournament is here on the website with up to date live reports and news about the participating teams.