VILNIUS – The Lithuanian Ice Hockey Federation signed Bernd Haake from Germany as new head coach of the Lithuanian national team for this season. The team also hopes to add Dainius Zubrus, currently locked out of the NHL.
He will be assisted by Lithuanian U20 and U18 national team coach Andrius Jadkauskas, and Daniel Goller from Italy who will be the goalie coach. Scouting duties will be given to Toni Waldmann from Germany.
Haake, 66, was an assistant coach for the past six years with the Iserlohn Roosters of the German top league.
Before that he was coaching in Italy for several years. He led the Bolzano Foxes to one championship in 2000 and also coached Fassa and Sterzing. From 1992 to 1997 he was an assistant coach of Kölner Haie (champion in 1995) and assisted IIHF Life Member Roman Neumayer from 1974 to 1986.
Haake was also working as a coach and organizer of the international hockey school of the German Ice Hockey Associaiton in Füssen for 14 years and established the Tretiak goalie school in Füssen (1990-1994). He also worked as a team host at several occasions with Canada (1993 & 2001 World Championships), the United States (2006 Olympics, 2010 World Championship) and Norway (2010 Olympics).
In 1976/77 he coached the Spanish national team with his fellow countryman Toni Waldmann when it competed in an IIHF World Championship for the first time.
Haake’s first tournament will come soon as Lithuania will play in the Olympic Pre-Qualification Group G in Budapest, Hungary, 9-11 November. The Lithuanians will face host Hungary, the Netherlands and Croatia.
In spring Lithuania will participate in the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Donetsk, Ukraine, competing against Ukraine, Poland, the Netherlands, Romania and Estonia.
The team will be comprised of players playing in Lithuania and abroad in countries such as Russia, Finland, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Great Britain. Due to the lockout, the Lithuanians also hope that their most famous player, New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus, will represent the national team for the first time since 2005.
However, there is not only good news from Lithuania. The country’s strongest team, Energija Elektrenai, was not admitted to play in the Latvian league where it had participated for many years. It will now play in the Lithuanian league.