A Finn for Hungary

Jarmo Tolvanen to coach men’s & U20 teams

11.08.2017
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Jarmo Tolvanen behind the bench of the Finnish U20 national team at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship. Photo: Jukka Rautio / HHOF-IIHF Images

BUDAPEST – Finnish coach Jarmo Tolvanen will be behind the bench of the Hungarian men’s national team and also lead the U20 national team.

The Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation decided not to use the option to prolong the contract with Rich Chernomaz after the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A that ended with a fifth-place finish – tied for the worst placing in ten years with 2014 when the Hungarians also finished the group in fifth place and 21st overall in the program.

Chernomaz was in charge of the Hungarian national team for five senior World Championship tournaments and led the team to promotion in 2015 and a participation in the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship top division in Russia. Chernomaz also served as the head coach of the junior national team at four U20 World Championship events. Last winter on home ice in Budapest the team took first place and was promoted to the Division IA level.

Chernomaz will be succeeded by Finnish coach Jarmo Tolvanen at both the senior and U20 national teams. Tolvanen spent the past two seasons with Stjernen in the top Norwegian league. After retiring from playing hockey in his early twenties with several seasons in the second Finnish league for HPK Hameenlinna and one in the top Swedish league for Timra he started coaching in the lower levels of Finland. His first breakthrough was in the early 1990s with the Finnish Ice Hockey Association. He was an assistant coach with the U17 national team which was followed up with being named the head coach of the U18 and the U20 teams. This was with the classes of 1972-73-74 that were made up of players such as Jere Lehtinen, Sami Kapanen and Janne Niinimaa. He was leading the U20 team at the 1992 and 1993 World Juniors and again in 2007.

He would end up coaching in top leagues in Europe such as the Finnish Liiga, the Swedish Hockey League, the Swiss National League, the German DEL, in Denmark, France, Norway, Poland and… Hungary. He returns to the country where he was the head coach for Fehervar AV19 during the 2009/10 season and he lead them to their first-ever playoff appearance in team history in the Austrian-based cross-border league EBEL and also won the Hungarian title.

Gabor Ocskay, former Fehervar club president, believes this was an excellent choice by the federation. “I had a great experience with Jarmo when he was in Fehervar. In the 10 years that Fehervar has playing in the EBEL, that season was one of the best ones we had in 2009/10. We just missed out on making the semi-finals as we lost to a very strong Vienna Capitals team 4-2. Jarmo is an excellent coach both on and off the ice, with excellent credentials. The head coaching position is in great hands. The Fehervar hockey community is very happy that he will be the head coach of the Hungarian national team,” Ocskay told the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation’s website.

Jarmo Tolvanen will be making his debut with the senior national team on 30th September when Hungary will host the Polish national team in Budapest during its 90th-anniversary gala.

Next spring Hungary will host the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Budapest from 22nd to 28th April 2018. Beside Hungary also Slovenia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland and Great Britain will battle for promotion to the top division.

SZABOLCS ZAVODSZKY

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