32 teams play in the European Trophy this year.
32 games will be played this weekend starting Friday.
"It will be the grand opening of this years European Trophy, even if we have allready played five games" says tournament director Bo "Kulon" Lennartsson.
Bo Lennartsson is proud of how the European Trophy has evolved.
"It’s a great feeling to see so many high quality teams play competative games as early as in August in front of huge crowds. We have come a long way" says Lennartsson as he reflects on the games that have been played allready. And the games to come.
Three of them have involved Slovan Bratislava and the Slovak Champions have averaged crowds of more than 6 000 spectators, peaking at 8 843 against Sparta Prague on Tuesday.
Slovan will travel to Sweden this weekend to take on Linköping and HV71 as the tournament kicks off for real.
Friday will feature 30 of the 32 sides in the tournament with 15 games played in Finland, Sweden and Germany. The remaining two teams will enter the tournament on Saturday. "The start of a very exciting autumn of icehockey" says Bo Lennartsson.
It will be an autumn that stretches all the way into the regular leagueseasons of the participating teams. "The schedule this year will make the torunament stay alive and keep it interesting a lot longer ahead of the play-off in Vienna and Bratislava" says Lennartsson. This year the Red Bull Salute will be played from December 13 to 16.
There was a lot of interest from teams to participate in the European Trophy this year and the tournament has expanded from 24 to 32 teams. "But there were a lot more teams who wanted to get a place in the ET, but there was no room for in the format we have set up. We have had to settle for 32 teams to find a good working schedule for the teams" says Bo Lennartsson.
The tournament has not only grown in size this year to 32 teams. The prizemoney has also increased substantially.
In the groupstage, the five top-teams in each of the four divisions is entitled to prizemoney with 25 000 Euro going to the groupwinner. The second placed team will recieve 20 000, the third placed 15 000, the team in fourth place 10 000 and the fifth placed team 5 000 Euro.
In the Red Bull Salute, the winnner will recieve 50 000 Euro with the losing finalist returning home with 10 000.
In total 360 000 Euro to play for and a team winning both the group and the Salute will win 125 000 Euro.
"It is with a lot of pride we are able to present this tournament with 32 such quality teams. I hope, no, I'm sure the fans will enjoy watching the games" says Bo Lennartsson.
The schedule for Friday night looks like this:
HIFK - Adler Mannheim (Valtti Arena, Vantaa) 18:00
Tappara - HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice (Hakametsä, Tampere) 18:30
TPS - Bili Tygri Liberec (HK Areena, Turku) 18:30
KalPa - HC Sparta Praha (Niiralan Monttu, Kuopio) 18:30
JYP - Pirati Chomutov (Synergia-areena, Jyväskylä) 18:30
Djurgårdens IF - SC Bern (Hovet, Stockholm) 19:00
Brynäs IF - HC Fribourg-Gottéron (Läkerol Arena, Gävle) 19:00
Oulun Kärpät - EC Red Bull Salzburg (Kajaani Arena, Kajaani) 19:00
Luleå Hockey - HC Mountfield (Coop Arena, Luleå) 19:00
Linköpings HC - HC Slovan Bratislava (Cloetta Center, Linköping) 19:00
HV71 - UPC Vienna Capitals (Kinnarps Arena, Jönköping) 19:00
Färjestad BK - ZSC Lions (Löfbergs Lila Arena, Karlstad) 19:00
Frölunda Indians - EV Zug (Frölundaborg, Gothenburg) 19:00
Eisbären Berlin - HC Plzen 1929 (O2 World, Berlin) 19:30
Hamburg Freezers - HC Kometa Brno (Kunsteisstadion, Crimmitschau) 20:00