|Orli Znojmo (white) in pre-season action against an EBEL foe, the|
Vienna Capitals. Photo: Rostislav Pfeffer, reklamafoto.cz.
"The competition will be very good," said head coach Karel Soudek. "In the pre-season some teams from the EBEL defeated teams from the Czech Extraliga, so it is clear to us that we are in for a challenging year."
Even the team they start against, Zagreb, who is not considered one of the league's strongest, can still boast a roster with former NHLer Andy Delmore on it. They are also one of the top home draws in all of Europe, averaging over 10,000 fans per game last season. "We certainly welcome stormy atmosphere," said Soudek. "It will be a tough game, as it will with every opponent."
The 11 EBEL teams play a 40-game schedule; four games against all other teams. The league includes six teams based in Austria, two in Slovenia, and one each in Croatia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. After opening the season in the Croatian capital, Orli plays its home opener at Hostan Arena on Friday night against the Linz Black Wings.
The regular season concludes on January 20, after which the league splits into two tiers: the top six teams in one group and the bottom five in another. After a home-and-away round-robin within those groups, the top four teams from the top group and the top two teams from the bottom group advance to the playoffs. The top two teams advance to the semifinals, while the other four teams play short quarterfinal series.
From the club's website, hcorli.cz, here is the team's 2011-12 schedule: