Sunday, September 11, 2011

Orli Znojmo begin 1st season in EBEL

The Erste Bank Eishockey Liga began its 2011-12 season on Friday night with 10 teams from four countries in action. On Sunday, the league's 11th team from its fifth country makes its debut.

Orli Znojmo (white) in pre-season action against an EBEL foe, the
Vienna Capitals. Photo: Rostislav Pfeffer,
Orli Znojmo makes its EBEL debut in Zagreb against Medveščak, which is the start of a new era for the South Moravian club. A former member of the Czech Extraliga, Orli was relegated in 2009 and has spent the past two seasons in the First National League, which is the second tier of hockey in the Czech Republic. Sunday marks a return to top-level hockey in Europe, and everybody around the club is excited about it.

"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,, here is the team's 2011-12 schedule:

1.Sun 11.9.ZagrebZnojmo17:30
2.Fri 16.9.ZnojmoLinz19:15
3.Sun 18.9.ZnojmoVienna17:30
4.Fri 23.9.LjubljanaZnojmo19:15
5.Sun 25.9.GrazZnojmo17:30
6.Fri 30.9.ZnojmoFehérvár19:15
7.Sun 2.10.KlagenfurtZnojmo17:30
8.Fri 7.10.JeseniceZnojmo19:15
9.Sun 9.10.ZnojmoSalzburg17:30
10.Fri 14.10.ZnojmoZagreb19:15
11.Fri 21.10.LinzZnojmo19:15
12.Sun 23.10.ZnojmoVillach17:30
13.Tue 25.10.ViennaZnojmo19:15
14.Fri 28.10.ZnojmoLjubljana17:30
15.Sun 30.10.ZnojmoKlagenfurt17:30
16.Tue 1.11.SalzburgZnojmo17:30
17.Fri 4.11.ZnojmoJesenice19:15
18.Sun 6.11.ZnojmoGraz17:30
19.Wed 16.11.VillachZnojmo19:15
20.Fri 18.11.FehérvárZnojmo19:15
21.Sun 20.11.ZnojmoFehérvár17:30
22.Tue 22.11.LjubljanaZnojmo19:15
23.Fri 25.11.ZnojmoZagreb19:15
24.Sun 27.11.ViennaZnojmo17:30
25.Fri 2.12.ZnojmoGraz19:15
26.Sun 4.12.SalzburgZnojmo17:30
27.Tue 6.12.ZnojmoVillach19:15
28.Sun 11.12.ZnojmoLinz17:30
29.Tue 20.12.KlagenfurtZnojmo19:15
30.Thu 22.12.ZnojmoJesenice19:15
31.Mon 26.12.FehérvárZnojmo17:30
32.Fri 30.12.ZagrebZnojmo19:15
33.Sun 1.1.LinzZnojmo17:30
34.Tue 3.1.ZnojmoVienna19:15
35.Fri 6.1.ZnojmoSalzburg17:30
36.Sun 8.1.ZnojmoLjubljana17:30
37.Tue 10.1.JeseniceZnojmo19:15
38.Fri 13.1.GrazZnojmo19:15
39.Sun 15.1.ZnojmoKlagenfurt17:30
40.Fri 20.1.VillachZnojmo19:15

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