Ahead of the 2016 World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, an initial list of 38 players was released who were in contention to make the final squad for Team GB ahead of that years tournament.
Among the usual suspects like Robert Dowd, Jonathan Phillips, Mark Richardson and Ben Bowns was one name and only one player not playing in any league in the UK. At the time, Joe Lewis was playing for the Heilbronner Falken at the end of his first season in the DEL 2, the second tier of German hockey.
Fast forward to the current season, and now at the age of 26, the forward originally from Wales is still in the same league, but playing for ESV Kaufbeuren and is having a stellar season.
Right now in the EIHL we have some superb goalies. Ben Bowns for example leading the way for the Brits, Tyler Beskorowany back stopping the Giants to potential silverware this year and Patrick Killeen putting in stellar performances despite his club being in last place.
But one of the best goaltenders the league has ever seen stopped by for one year in Scotland, and since then has gone to unbelievable heights following his year in Dundee.
Just in his second year of professional hockey following a great four years at Bemidji State University between 2008 and 2012, Dan Bakala joined the Dundee Stars for the 2013/14 season, helping the Stars to an incredible third place finish in the EIHL that year, with Bakala playing outstanding in net, and guys like Nico Sacchetti, Jerry Pollastrone and Nikita Kashirsky scoring for fun to help Dundee to their highest ever finish in their EIHL career.
Paul Thompson has a had a tough few months, but had a fantastic night in his coaching debut for German side the Schwenninger Wild Wings, helping the DEL side snap a four game losing streak.
With the Wild Wings playing host to Red Bull Munich, Thompson could hardly have asked for a tougher test in his first outing with his new side, but his team managed to take the win but needed an extra session to get it done.
Former Coventry Blaze and Sheffield Steelers Head Coach Paul Thompson is back in hockey employment. Today Deutsche Eishockey League (DEL) side Schwenninger Wild Wings announced they had appointed him in succession to Canadian Pat Cortina who was relieved of his Head Coach duties towards the back end of last month.
Another interesting weekend of hockey in Germany’s DEL came and went, and with it saw a new leader after an action-packed Round 10 and 11 with Adler Mannheim soaring above the rest of the pack in the standings, following their back to back victories over the Wild Wings and Kölner Haie.
Kölner Haie made it three wins on the bounce to beat Iserlohn Roosters 2-1 in Cologne, after Felix Schutz opened the scoring late on in the second period courtesy of a power play goal, that was until Anthony Camara equalised early on in the third for the Roosters to see overtime and have Michael Zalewski skating from his own zone to snap a shot that beat the keeper for the extra point.
Two teams that haven’t got going so far this season are the Nurnberg Ice Tigers and Grizzly Wolfsburg. Their game saw Gerrit Fauser firing the home side in front on the power play with Philippe Dupuis soon levelling things up for Nürnberg. A Daniel Sparre effort soon restored the lead for Wolfsburg four minutes later.
Leonhard Pfoderl then tied the game up with less than five to play. With 2.19 gone in the extra overtime period, Brandon Buck slammed home the puck to give the Ice Tigers victory.
From two sides out of form to two teams that are in-form. The Augsburger Panther and the Straubing Tigers meeting up in Straubing and saw the visiting Panthers side holding a two-goal advantage for most of the game, thanks to Daniel Schmolz and David Stieler scoring inside the opening ten minutes.
Straubing then scored twice in a minute, as Stefan Loibl made it 2-1 before Antoine Laganiere drew the scores level at 2-2. Adam Payerl managed to put Augsburger back ahead late on and then have Matthew Fraser closing the game out an empty-net goal for 4-2.
Eisbaren Berlin won on the road at Krefeld 3-1, as a Louis-Marc Aubry goal cancelled out a Jacob Berglund effort for the hometown Penguine side midway through the first. Brendan Ranford scored on the power play for a 2-1 lead and then had Sean Backman adding a third for the win.
Adler Mannheim moved to the top of the DEL summit after beating the Schwenniger Wild Wings 3-1 in Mannheim. Both sides traded goals, with a Mirko Sacher power-play strike sandwiched in between the Mannheim goals from Benjamin Smith and Matthias Plachta for the home side. Garrett Festerling added a third as Mannheim eventually overcame the stubborn bottom of the table side.
Recent leaders DEG Dusseldorf suffered back to back overtime losses over this past weekend, starting firstly a 3-2 overtime loss against ERC Ingolstadt in Bavaria, as goals by Jaedon Descheneau and a power-play effort by Ryan McKiernan put DEG 2-0 up. Vili Sopanen and Brett Olson then levelled things up for Ingolstadt to force overtime and saw Mike Collins netting the game-winning goal for ERC.
On Sunday, Dusseldorf then faced another Bavarian side in German champions Munchen Red Bulls in a nine-goal thriller at Munich’s Olympia Eishalle. As Maximilian Kastner and Matthew Stajan scoring a brace each for Munchen, with Stajan scoring the overtime winner with 1.10 gone into the extra period for the 5-4 victory.
ERC Ingolstadt travelled to the German capital to take on Eisbaren Berlin and left with all the points, as goals by David Elsner and Brett Olson put them two up before a powerplay effort by Danny Richmond made it a one-goal game and late on saw Jerry D’Amigo scoring into an empty cage for a 3-1 win.
Straubing Tigers picked up a 4-2 road win over Iserlohn Roosters, as two goals by Michael Connolly helped the Tigers get back to winning ways and moved up into fourth place in the standings.
Krefeld Penguine made the trip to Nurnberg to face the Ice Tigers and was forced to battle back from 3-1 down, having led through a Jacob Berglund goal till the hosts scored three unanswered goals from firstly Chad Bassen, Brandon Buck and then a power-play goal from Jason Bast made it 3-1. The Penguine hit back with three unanswered goals of their own, starting with a Vincent Saponari goal and was soon followed by Daniel Pietta tying the game up with less than nine to play and had Phillip Bruggisser scoring the winner with five minutes to play for a 4-3 win.
The winless Schwenniger Wild Wings welcomed Bremerhaven Pinguins to the Helios Arena and despite two goals by Simon Danner, the visitors led thanks to strikes by Michael Moore and Miha Verlic with the Pinguins leading after one. Danner scored his second of the match for the Wild Wings for 2-2, but Chad Nehring scored the deciding goal nearly ten minutes from time to see Bremerhaven as 3-2 winners.
Augsburger Panther made it four wins in a row, and are the current form team in the DEL as it stands now following their 6-0 hammering of Grizzly Wolfsburg. Goals from Matthew White and Simon Sezemsky put the home side two up inside seven minutes of play before Wolfsburg collapsed in the final ten of the match and see Thomas Holzmann, a quick-fire double from Patrick McNeill and a Daniel Schmolz goal completing the rout.
The last word belongs to leaders Adler Mannheim, as they came back from a two-goal deficit away at Cologne, as Chad Kolarik started the comeback and saw two powerplay goals by David Wolf and then Markus Eisenschmid put the leaders 3-2 up, before former Chicago and San Jose man Andrew Desjardins made sure of the points for a 4-2 win.
This past weekend saw Rounds 8 and 9 of matches taking place in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) over in Germany as just nine points separate first and tenth positions in the standings, but we are still very much in the early days of the season and a long way to go yet.