SALZBURG, Austria – One year ago Austrian second-tier clubs and Slovenian teams together with their national associations founded the Inter National League (INL). For the second season they will be joined by five Italian teams.
The league will now include 15 teams from three countries that take part in this joint project.
It was founded one year ago because only few teams in Austria had the finances to play semi-professional ice hockey at a national level and Slovenian teams – apart from Olimpija Ljubljana that plays in Austria’s highest league EBEL – also had problems playing their games at a competitive level.
Austrian team EHC Bregenzerwald won the first edition of the league 3-2 in a best-of-five final against Slavija Ljubljana from Slovenia.
For the 2013/2014 season they will be joined by five teams from the Italian second-tier league Serie A2. The contracts were signed at a meeting with representatives of the three national associations and the participating clubs on Friday in Salzburg, Austria.
“Having the new Italian teams join us enormously enhances the Inter National League,” said Peter Schramm, Vice President of the Austrian Ice Hockey Association. “We’re glad to run a league with 15 teams. It’ll be an exciting and well-balanced season like last year.”
The teams will play 28 rounds followed by a tiered secondary round and the play-offs starting with best-of-five quarter-finals.
Also the Italian teams share the happiness. Many of them are located in Alpine areas close to Austria and Slovenia, and the ones from South Tyrol share the same language with the Austrian teams. By joining forces the teams avoid having to play in a league with just five or six teams.
“Already last season the Serie A2 had only limited competitiveness. Many fans came only for the playoffs,” said Reinhard Zablasing, President of the Eppan Pirates, one of the new Italian teams in the league. “With the new teams we’ll have a wind of change in our arena. This will be good for everybody and I hope also the fans will share our enthusiasm.”
The 15 teams in the Inter National League 2013/2014
- Austria: EHC Bregenzerwald, EHC Lustenau, VEU Feldkirch, EK Zell am See
- Italy: Kaltern Hechte, Eppan Pirates, HC Meran Junior, HC Neumarkt, HC Gherdeina
- Slovenia: Slavija Ljubljana, Triglav Kranj, HKMK Bled, HDK Maribor, HK Celje, Jesenice.