Posted by simon c on 2008 May 2日 Friday
A good article by Bill Meltzer, as always, in the NHL.com’s Across the Pond series, on the victorious Hungarian team at the World Championships Division I B in Sapporo last month, and their triumphant hero’s return to their homeland where they were greeted by 1000 fans! Wow, this just shows how Hungarians are really getting into hockey, I can’t imagine the same thing happening in Japan had Japan won the promotion up to the top division elsewhere and returned home.
But the more interesting part of the article for me is the inset box.
As expected, the Hungarian team finished in last place in the Erste Bank Liga by a large margin. The club lost 35 of its 42 games. Alba Volan by far had the league’s weakest offensive attack and allowed the most goals in the league. Even the ninth-place Graz 99ers finished the campaign with 30 more goals scored, five fewer goals allowed, and 17 more wins (10 in regulation, five in overtime and two in shootouts).
Meanwhile, during the OB1 regular season, Alba Volan iced a club of developmental players. The team finished sixth in the seven-club league, but the key players on Alba Volan’s Erste Bank Liga roster returned for the playoffs.
The Hungarian finals saw Alba Volan defeat Romanian club HC Miercurea Ciuc in four straight games. The decisive 6-0 victory in Szekesfehervar was played in front of a capacity crowd of 3,500 fans.
So, Alba Volan simultaneously contributed to making the Hungarian national side stronger with their participation in the much tougher Austrian EBHL, and came home and defeated a Romanian side that reached the Hungarian championship, but in turn the Romanian team’s participation in the Hungarian league is making their national side stronger as well.
Japan is in on one end of a similar deal with the Asia League, as it has bring up the level of play of the Korean clubs and national team (the Chinese are more questionable). But Japan is not the beneficiary of anything similar on the receiving end as Japanese clubs are not participating in any leagues that are tougher than the Asian League. Is there a regional Siberian league? If so, what is it’s level of play?
Maybe Japan can send in a club to that league if the federation’s really serious about moving up to the top division (doubtful, what with the lack of effort put into Sapporo). Even scheduling regular training matches against Khavarovsk and Vladivostok would help you’d think, but regular league matches would really help.