DRESDEN – Veit Holzmann won’t have to travel far for the 2013 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship. He played with Dresdner Eislöwen of Germany’s second-tier ice hockey league, in the Saxonian capital of Dresden, which will host the world’s finest inline hockey players starting on Sunday.
Veit Holzmann is the son of long-time inline hockey national team coach Georg Holzmann, who played in six World Championships and two Winter Olympics for Germany and West Germany.
It was during the time Georg Holzmann was coaching in Füssen when Veit, now 21, started to skate and work his way up through the junior system to the senior team in the third-tier league. In 2012 he left Bavaria to play one tier above in Dresden.
“People in Dresden are hockey-crazy, I hadn’t expected it like that,” Holzmann said.
The city was not traditionally known for hockey for a long time. During the era of the Berlin Wall, the top level in East Germany only included two teams, Dynamo Berlin and Dynamo Weisswasser. In other cities ice hockey was played as a recreational sport at best due to lack of funding. From 1970 until 1982 there was no official ice hockey game played in the city of 530,000 inhabitants at all.
Later on a team was formed to participate in the recreational league and after the German reunification a new hockey club was founded in 1990 that worked its way up through regional amateur leagues and has been playing at the second level – 2 Bundesliga – since 2005.
In 2007 the EnergieVerbund Arena with a capacity for 4,127 fans opened, along with a second ice rink.
Veit Holzmann. Photo: Robin Trettin / Dresdner Eislöwen
“Dresden has great preconditions with a great arena, and a big, beautiful city,” Holzmann said. “By getting promoted to the second league they created hype. It was really fun to play there and I hope it continues like this next season. Everything was a good fit with the environment and conditions for practising.”
For Holzmann it will be his second InLine Hockey World Championship after 2010 in Sweden. And before going back to Dresden for the tournament he already got in touch with his friends there.
“They told me positive things and that it’s going well with ticket sales. If inline hockey will be received as well as ice hockey in Dresden, it will be a great and interesting InLine Hockey World Championship,” he said.
16 teams will travel to Dresden. Mostly it’s the classic ice hockey countries that compete for the world title with rosters that also include ice hockey professionals, but there will also be teams from countries where inline hockey is bigger, such as Argentina.
Among the stars in Dresden is Sweden’s Dick Axelsson, who won the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship recently, while the German team will be starred by top-league players like Marcel Müller.
“Our entire team consists of professional ice hockey players but we are passionate inline hockey players in summer. There’s no better summer practice for ice hockey,” Holzmann said. “That’s why we’re looking forward to play here. For me it’s a highlight. There are some big names here like three years ago when I was able to play with players who are role models for me. And it’s also special because I played this season for Dresden.”
He is ready to face questions about Dresden and be the tour guide for his team. And playing for his father’s team is a special motivation.
“We’re a real hockey family. It was clear from my childhood what I’d be doing. In Füssen I already played for my father for three years, so I know him well also as a coach,” Holzmann said. “Now I’m at an age to make the jump to professional ice hockey.”
If you’ve ever planned to visit Dresden, which with its beautiful architecture and art collections is often referred as Florence on the Elbe, there’s no better time than coming now when the weather turns to summer and the venues to two inline hockey rinks.
“Before I came I really didn’t know what to expect in Dresden but the old town is really gorgeous and the Elbe shore is very nice,” Holzmann said. “But the main attraction for me is the ice rink and I can recommend everybody to come to watch the InLine Hockey Worlds.”