The majority of you have probably been enjoying the last bits of your summer but hockey is already in full swing over in Europe! The newly minted Champions Hockey League features 44 teams from six different leagues and at least eight different countries all competing for the title of Europe’s best and the pay-day of 1.5 million Euros isn’t bad either.
The 26 founding clubs send off their best every season to compete in the “A” tier. Tier “B” would be two teams from each league who have gained the top regular season title or were the playoff winners who weren’t apart of the founding group of clubs. These leagues include the DEL, Swedish Elite, Finnish Elite, Swiss league, and many others.
The “C” tier would be considered a wild card spot and made up of two to six teams from high European leagues but are not a part of the founding members. This would be your Elite league, and leagues from Denmark, Italy, Norway, France and Slovakia.
I’ve managed to catch a couple of games myself and its great hockey and interesting to see how other countries are building their teams.
For those of us from Cornwall, we do have a connection.
Former Cornwall Colt and President of Cornwall’s Own The Ice Hockey training, Brock McBride is suiting up for Villach SV from Austria. Villach has entered the tournament in Group C alongside Sweden’s Frolunda Gotherburg, Switzerland’s Geneve-Servette, and France’s Briancon Diables Rouges. They are currently tied for second with Frolunda by splitting their first two games.
During the first game against Briancon, McBride sealed the win for Villach when he scored with less then three minutes left to go in the third period. McBride who is an essential part of Villach’s first line brought the same intensity to their matchup against Geneve-Servette the following day. Despite losing 4-2, Villach played a close and rough game to counter the Swiss side.
Villach SV has won six national championships with their last one coming in 2006. This is McBride’s second year suiting up for the Austrian club. His hockey career so far has seen him makes stops with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces, Elmira Jackals, South Carolina Stingrays, the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, Houston Aeros, Milwaukee Admirals and a brief tenure with the EIHL’s Belfast Giants before sitting comfortably in Austria.
Stick around Cornwall for updates on Brock’s impressive ride into the inaugural Champions Hockey League season.