Pool A features host club Mannheimer HC from Germany, Ukraine’s OKS-SHVSM Vinnitsa, Sweden’s Partille, and Denmark’s Slagelse. Pool B has Switzerland’s Luzerner SC, the Netherlands’ Pinoké, Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague, and Ireland’s Three Rock Rovers.
For the former group, hosts Mannhime are proud to be playing with a young squad with many hometown players and they regarded reaching the Final4 last week in the German Bundesliga as a great success.
Key players include goalkeeper Lucas Stumpf, Tokyo Olympian Linus Müller, and captain Jan-Philipp Fischer. Outdoor World Cup gold medalist Teo Hinrichs returned to go straight back into their line-up.
It is their second European men’s indoor competition, the previous one was a 2011 victory in Lucerne in the top-tier European Club Cup.
The Slagelse side is quite a young squad mixed with very experienced players like Mikkel Steinmetz and Stephan Trzepacz who both have a long history in Euro club events indoors as well as outdoors.
Steinmetz, the ageing president of the team, is playing his last season before retiring after 34 years in the Slagelse jersey and wants to finish on a high with a good result in this tournament and the following weekend with his final games at the Danish Final4 by winning his seventh Danish indoor championship.
Among the younger players in the squad are Oscar Birch-Hald and Nikolaj Moll, who despite being only 21 years, have a lot of experience in Euro Club events and are also among the key players with their great indoor skills.
Joining for their first indoor EuroHockey tournament are the young guns Magnus Thorsted and Rasmus Westrup who lined out for the Danish Under-21 side.
On the first weekend of January, the team participated in Mason Cup in Denmark playing teams from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and GB. The team made it to the top of the tournament undefeated. The weeks following were packed with league games and training sessions.
The goal is to at least stay in the Trophy or, who knows, maybe even a spot among the top 4 teams.
Ukraine’s OKS SHVSM Vinnitsa’s preparation and training were held at the Ukrainian championship which was held in December and January. Two international tournaments were planned but, in connection with the war in Ukraine, they were not able to participate.
Yurii Dzemukh Yurii and Oleksandr Yasinskiy took part in the European Under-21 championships in the Czech Republic but, otherwise, the war has seen adjustments to their line-up with some main players currently in the ranks of the armed forces.
“It was very difficult to find funds for travel and to prepare the team for this competition but our club will come to Mannheim and represent Ukraine at these competitions!” says coach Pavlo Mazur.
Sweden’s Partille will be playing in their 19th European indoor competition having previously won the top tier in 2019 and bronze in 2016, showing their pedigree.
Joakim Björkman was the player of the tournament at that 2019 competition and he is included in their panel for this event as were Erik and Axel Ströby.
In Pool B, Luzerner SC is a team with a wealth of Swiss national and international experience. They reached the Final Four two weeks ago to complete their pre-EuroHockey programme and they arrive in Germany with a strong line-up.
Goalkeeper Lars Kleikemper is a key figure, playing 49 international games and 17 competitions with the senior and Under-21 sides, winning a goalkeeper of the tournament last summer in Lausanne in the Hockey5s format.
Sebastian Schneider has over a century of international appearances, as does Martin Greder who was excellent in December’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships in Hamburg.
They have a strong history on the club scene, winning bronze medals in 2009 and 2010 in the Cup but this will be their first time in action since 2016. Swiss hockey dropped to the third tier in 2020 but bounced back with Rotweiss Wettingen earning promotion in Slovenia in 2022 to get up to this tier.
Slavia Prague will contest this competition hot on the heels of a number of their players lining out at the World Cup in South Africa. The vastly experienced Tomáš Procházka is back on his old stomping ground having previously played for Mannheim.
Martin and Tomáš Hanus were in Pretoria too with Under-21 captain Patrik Dubina as a reserve. It will be Slavia’s 17th European campaign, their most recent being a 2019 seventh-place finish in the Trophy.
Three Rock Rovers have been at the forefront of Irish hockey in recent years, participating in EHL competitions outdoors as well as indoors. The club has featured in the Irish Indoor finals in each of the last six years, winning the national title five times.
The strength of the team lies in the international experience of Jody Hosking, Ross Canning, and James Walker combined with the talents of seasoned campaigners and enthusiastic youth.
They won the latest of their titles in late January with an 8-7 final win over Monkstown with Hosking scoring the winner with the last play of the tournament.
Captain Canning says: “We won through the Irish finals in very tough, close matches. They were ideal preparation for the EHF Trophy competition next week. We are excited to play at such a level where no other Irish side has done since 1996.”
It has been quite a journey for Rovers who were in the fourth tier in 2018 in Georgia, the third tier in 2019 in Norway, and then finished sixth in 2020 in Alanya, Türkiye.
They will meet a Pinoké with a lot of talent, enthusiasm, and drive, looking forward to their first-ever European indoor competition. The men’s first team has made incredible growth over the last few years, resulting in the first indoor title in club history last year.
With Dutch national indoor players Hidde Brink (goalie) and Niek Merkus (defender and captain), the squad combines indoor experience with young, mostly homegrown talented players like last year’s FIH rising star nominee Miles Bukkens.
The team is coached by former Bloemendaal player Joep van der Loo, under whose leadership the team was present at every national final four series since he joined the team in 2019. The goal during this tournament in Mannheim is to build on the indoor success of last year and promote it to the first division of the EuroHockey indoor club championship.
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