ZURICH – Three AHL players were released to represent their countries in the Final Olympic Qualifications. Austrian Michael Grabner along with Latvians Martins Karsums and Janis Sprukts for the green light from their respective teams to help their nations in the quest for an Olympic spot.
Germany and Austria announced their rosters for Group E in Hanover, which also includes Slovenia and Japan.
The Germans announced a 25-man roster that will be cut to 23 players on the Thursday deadline. All players come from DEL clubs except for Canada-born Travis James Mulock, who is the scoring leader of the second-tier league. Alexander Barta will make his comeback with the national team after being sidelined for more than nine months with a broken thighbone.
The Austrians currently have four goalkeepers, nine defencemen and 12 forwards on its long roster. Austria got help from the Vancouver, the city to be in February 2010, as the Canucks released Michael Grabner for the qualification. The 21-year-old Villach native, who has never played for the men’s national team before, is the goal-scoring leader of the Canuck’s AHL affiliate Manitoba. Vancouver’s 2006 first-round draft pick scored 19 goals and nine assists in 39 games.
“He’s a great prospect and an excellent goal getter,” said Austria coach Lars Bergström. “He’s on the cusp of the NHL and I’m happy that we have the possibility to get him.” The debut of Canada-born Mickey Elick was also planned but he was injured last week.
Austria has four players from European top leagues on its team with goalkeepers Bernd Brückler, who led Finland’s Espoo Blues to the semi-final of the Champions Hockey League, and Jürgen Penkler of Sweden’s Rögle BK, Traktor Chelyabinsk defenceman Andre Lakos and Oliver Setzinger of Switzerland’s SCL Tigers Langnau.
Austria beat Denmark 4-0 in an exhibition game in Vienna on Sunday with goals from Matthias Trattnig (2), Oliver Setzinger and Philipp Lukas.
Denmark travelled to Vienna with two goalkeepers, eight defencemen and 14 forwards. The list includes Kirill Starkov, who plays for KHL team CSKA Moscow, and Swedish Elitserien players Mads Břdker and Philip Larsen, and Lars Eller, St. Louis’ 2007 first-round draft choice. The Danes will play in Oslo against host Norway, France and Kazakhstan.
The Norwegians had their NHL player Ole-Kristian Tollefsen on the long list but he won’t come to Oslo. “We have been informed by the Columbus Blue Jackets that Tollefsen will not be available for us,” General Secretary Jon Haukeland said.
Norway earned the right to host the tournament thanks to their quarterfinal participation at the last World Championship, overtaking Scandinavian rival Denmark in the IIHF World Ranking. Norway has plenty of experienced players from European top leagues especially on offence. Seven players come from the Swedish Elitserien with Jonas Holřs, Anders Bastiansen, Mads Hansen, Marius Holtet, Peter Lorentzen, Per-Ĺge Skrřder and Mats Zuccarello Aasen, four play in the German DEL and then there’s Patrick Thoresen, who moved to Switzerland’s HC Lugano last summer after two NHL seasons.
Kazakhstan has yet to announce its final roster but their coach suffered some setbacks prior to leaving for Oslo. Goalkeepers Vitali Yeremeyev (Dynamo Moscow), Sergei Ogureshnikov (Lada Togliatti); defencemen Alexei Troshchinsky (Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod), Alexei Koledayev, Evgeny Blokhin, and forward Dmitri Dudarev (all from Metallurg Novokuznetsk) refused the call for the Final Olympic Qualification according to Kazakh media reports. Two more KHL players will be missing due to injuries with Evgeni Blokhin (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk) and Alexei Litvinenko (Vityaz Chekhov). Most players from the team are expected come from the Kazakh KHL team Barys Astana.
The third tournament will be played in Riga. Latvia hasn’t announced its roster yet, but it became clear that the Florida Panthers released Janis Sprukts for the qualification. The centre, who played 14 NHL games in three seasons, is the scoring leader of the AHL affiliate Rochester Americans with 12 goals and 16 assists in 39 games.
Winger Martins Karsums is expected to join the Latvian team. He’s the goal scoring leader of the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL affiliate, and has 17 goals and 24 assists in 43 games.
Aigars Cipruss will make a comeback with the national team. The 37-year-old stopped playing for the team after the 2006 Olympics. He’s one of many players who will join the national team from KHL club Dinamo Riga.
The other teams haven’t announced their final rosters for Riga, however, Italy beat Japan 3-2 in an exhibition game in Alba di Canazei, 3-2, with goals from Anthony Aquino (2) and Luca Felicetti.
Twelve of the players in Hungary’s 26-man roster come from Alba Volan Szekesfehervar, the Hungarian team participating in the Austrian league. Three Hungarians from French team Briançon are on the roster as well as János Vas, who play in the highest Swedish league for Brynäs Gävle.
Ukraine is expected to make a number of cuts from their 33-men roster today. The long list includes several KHL players with goalie Kostiantyn Simchuk (Sibir Novosibirsk), defencemen Sergi Klymentiev (Salavat Yulayev Ufa), Gennadi Razin (Dynamo Moscow), and forwards Sergei Varlamov (SKA St. Petersburg), Kostiantyn Kasianchuk (Dynamo Moscow), Andri Mikhnov (Lada Togliatti) and Vadym Shakhraychuk (Metallurg Magnitogorsk).
Current, non-final rosters:
Goalkeepers: Bernd Brückler (Espoo Blues, FIN), Rudolf Hummel (Vienna Capitals, AUT Jr.), Jürgen Penker (Rögle BK, SWE), René Swette (KAC Klagenfurt).
Defencemen: Mario Altmann (Vienna Capitals), Andre Lakos (Traktor Chelyabinsk, RUS), Philippe Lakos (TWK Innsbruck), Rober Lukas (EHC Linz), Martin Oraze (VSV Villach), Jeremy Rebek (Red Bull Salzburg), Johannes Reichel (KAC Klagenfurt), Gerhard Unterluggauer (TWK Innsbruck), Darcy Werenka (Vienna Capitals).
Forwards: Michael Grabner (Manitoba Moose, AHL), Gregor Hager (KAC Klagenfurt), Dieter Kalt (Red Bull Salzburg), Roland Kaspitz (VSV Villach), Thomas Koch (Red Bull Salzburg), Philipp Lukas (EHC Linz), Markus Peintner (VSV Villach), Marco Pewal (Red Bull Salzburg), David Schuller (KAC Klagenfurt), Oliver Setzinger (SCL Tigers Langnau, SUI), Matthias Trattnig (Red Bull Salzburg), Daniel Welser (Red Bull Salzburg).
Goalkeepers: Patrick Galbraith (SřnderjyskE Vojens), Frederik Andersen (Herning Blue Fox).
Defencemen: Daniel Nielsen (Herning Blue Fox), Stefan Lassen (Herning Blue Fox), Michael Eskesen (Rřdovre Mighty Bulls), Jesper Damgaard (Malmö Red Hawks, SWE-2), Mads Břdker (Rögle BK, SWE), Thomas Johnsen (Nordsjćlland Cobras Hřrsholm), Philip Larsen (Frölunda Gothenburg, SWE).
Forwards: Lasse Degn (Nordsjćlland Cobras Hřrsholm), Ronnie Thomassen (Totempo Hvidovre), Nichlas Hardt (Malmö Red Hawks, SWE-2), Thor Dresler (Herning Blue Fox), Julian Jakobsen (Odense Bulldogs), Alexander Sundberg (Rřdovre Mighty Bulls), Mads Christensen (SřnderjyskE Vojens), Kasper Degn (Bietigheim-Bissingen Steelers, GER-2), Morten Green (Leksand Stars, SWE-2), Kim Lykkeskov (SřnderjyskE Vojens), Lars Eller (Frölunda Gothenburg, SWE), Rasmus Olsen (AaB Aalborg), Kirill Starkov (CSKA Moscow, RUS).
Goalkeepers: Dennis Endras (Augsburger Panther), Dimitri Pätzold (Hannover Scorpions), Youri Ziffzer (Eisbären Berlin).
Defencemen: Sven Butenschoen (Adler Mannheim), Christopher Schmidt (Iserlohn Roosters), Michael Bakos (ERC Ingolstadt), Martin Ancicka (Sinupret Ice Tigers Nuremberg), Korbinian Holzer (DEG Metro Stars Düsseldorf), Andreas Renz (Kölner Haie), Frank Hördler (Eisbären Berlin), Andre Reiss (Hannover Scorpions), Moritz Müller (Kölner Haie).
Forwards: Sven Felski (Eisbären Berlin), Travis James Mulock (Tölzer Löwen, GER-2), Michael Wolf (Iserlohn Roosters), Kai Hospelt (Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg), John Tripp (Hamburg Freezers), Andre Rankel (Eisbären Berlin), Alexander Barta (Hamburg Freezers), Michael Hackert (Adler Mannheim), Yannic Seidenberg (ERC Ingolstadt), Manuel Klinge (Kassel Huskies), Christoph Ullmann (Kölner Haie), Richard Mueller (Hamburg Freezers), Philip Gogulla (Kölner Haie).
Goalkeepers: Krisztián Budai (MHK Kezmarok, SVK), Zoltán Hetényi (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar), Levente Szuper (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar).
Defencemen: Omar Ennaffati (Tours Diables Noirs, FRA), András Horváth (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar), Dávid Jobb (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar), Balázs Kangyal (Budapest Stars), Rastislav Ondrejcik (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar), Tamás Sille (HC Miercurea Ciuc, ROU), Bence Svasznek (Budapest Stars), Viktor Szélig (Briançon Diables Rouges, FRA), Viktor Tokaji (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar).
Forwards: Dániel Fekete (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar), Tamás Gröschl (Budapest Stars), Roger Holéczy (Budapest Stars), Dániel Kóger (Red Bull Salzburg, AUT), Csaba Kovács (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar), Balázs Ladányi (Briançon Diables Rouges, FRA), Gergely Majoross (Budapest Stars), Gábor Ocskay (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar), Krisztián Palkovics (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar), Imre Peterdi (Dab Dunaujvaros), István Sofron (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar), János Vas (Brynäs Gävle), Márton Vas (Briançon Diables Rouges, FRA), Artyom Vaszjunyin (Alba Volan Szekesfehervar).
Goalkeepers: Pĺl Grotnes (Stjernen Frederikstad), Andre Lysenstřen (Stavanger Oilers), Ruben Smith (Storhamar Dragons).
Defencemen: Alexander Bonsaksen (Vĺlerenga Oslo), Jonas Holřs (Färjestad Karlstadt, SWE), Tommy Jakobsen (Graz 99ers, AUT), Juha Kaunismäki (Stavanger Oilers), Lars Erik Lund (Vĺlerenga Oslo), Anders Myrvold (Stavanger Oilers), Mats Trygg (Kölner Haie, GER).
Forwards: Morten Ask (Füchse Duisburg, GER), Anders Bastiansen (Färjestad Karlstad, SWE), Kristian Forsberg (Storhamar Dragons), Mads Hansen (Brynäs Gävle, SWE), Marius Holtet (Färjestad Karlstad, SWE), Peter Lorentzen (Rögle BK, SWE), Mathis Olimb (Augsburger Panther, GER), Martin Rřymark (Sparta Sarpsborg), Per-Ĺge Skrřder (MODO Örnsköldsvik, SWE), Lars Erik Spets (Vĺlerenga Oslo), Patrick Thoresen (HC Lugano, SUI), Tore Vikingstad (Hannover Scorpions, GER), Mats Zuccarello Aasen (MODO Örnsköldsvik, SWE).
Note: The final rosters of all participating teams will be published onto our Olympic Qualification Channel on Thursday night.