Idzan is dreaming big
by Ivan Tchechankov|21 APR 2022
Bruno Idzan is all smile with his gold medal at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division II Group B.
photo: Bonchuk Andonov
Croatia recently won the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division II Group B in Sofia, Bulgaria. One of the best players on the team was 16-years-old Bruno Idzan, who came to represent his national team after a great first season in Sweden.

Idzan scored two goals in the first game against Spain, with the first one a shorthanded tally. The following day he had the game-winning goal and an assist versus Netherlands and finished the tournament with 4 points, tied for fifth on the scoring leaders’ list after his teammates Karlo Marinkovic (10), Luka Bodiroga (8), Tin Alic (5) and the Dutch Floris Vooren (5).

“He is one of the youngest players on our team. He made the HV71 team for next year and will play high-level U18 hockey. Bruno is a really good guy. He is working hard and if he doesn’t have problems with injuries, he will be great for the Croatian hockey. He lives and breathes hockey every day,” said Domen Vedlin, his head coach with the Croatian U18 national team.

“Bruno has good hands, good shot, he is fast. He still looks like a boy in the U18 world stage, but I think already next year we will see a different Idzan. When you are young, you just play hockey, trying to make nice moves and score goals. You are not too much into the system. Sweden and Finland are the best places to develop players to the next level of thinking and playing hockey. For example, Karlo Marinkovic is two years older than Bruno Idzan, he plays in Sweden too and you can see that he changed his approach to the game this season. He thinks more as a man, he is always on the right spot, playing the system, has good positioning and that is the most important thing,” explained Vedlin.

There are two historic moments for Croatian hockey, which had a big effect on the popularity of the sport and the number of kids that decided to play it, instead of basketball and football. On 6 September 2013, with 7,500 fans at Dom Sportova saw Medvescak Zagreb open their debut season in the KHL with a huge 7-1 win over CSKA Moscow, the most successful hockey team in Europe’s ice hockey history. The Bears had a great first season and even qualified for the playoffs. The average attendance for Medvescak’s home games that season was 7,828, ranked 16th for European clubs. Unfortunately the KHL adventure for the Bears ended in a financial disaster in 2017.

“I started playing hockey when I was 3 or 4 years old. When Medvescak began to play in KHL, a lot of kids took up the sport. We were all watching their games and we had a first touch with the top level,” recalled Idzan.

On 9 December 2014, Borna Rendulic became the first Croatian-born and trained player in the history of the NHL. In his fourth game for the Colorado Avalanche, 22 days later, he scored a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers. A broken shinbone cut his first season in North America to 11 games in NHL and 26 in AHL. In total Rendulic spent three seasons on the continent with 15 games in NHL (14 with Colorado and one with the Vancouver Canucks) and 163 in AHL.

“After the fracture he had difficulties to return to top form, but then he played in KHL, in Finland, in Sweden, and now is one of the best players in Germany, competing for Adler Mannheim. Borna Rendulic is a good example for our guys, great motivation for them. If you work hard and you do the right things, with a little bit of luck, maybe you can reach the top of our sport,” said Domen Vedlin.

It seems that Rendulic paved the way to the dreamland for the next generations. He went to Finland, when he was 15 years old and played seven seasons there. In the last two he had 94 games with 19 goals and 44 points as a depth forward for HPK Hameenlinna in Liiga. Noticed by the NHL scouts, he then signed a two-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

“I was just a small kid, when Borna Rendulic played in the NHL. He was always a role model for me, how should I play. He was and still is an idol for me. I don’t know if he knows anything about me, but when I was maybe 6-7 years old, I met him and had a picture taken with him. I also have his NHL hockey card. My dream, of course, is to play in the NHL, but it will take a lot of time and full dedication. We will see how it goes,” admitted Bruno Idzan, who has an older brother – Vito, born in 2003.

Vito Idzan is a physical force (190 cm / 92 kg) and last season had few games with Nykopings SK in the U18 and U20 regional leagues in Sweden before coming back for the U19 and men’s playoffs in Croatia. This season Vito Idzan played 49 games in the top Czech U20 league for Mountfield Hradec Kralove.

“We are in touch, talking at least once a week. It’s very helpful because, I get advices from him. He had been through all of this before me and knows how to prepare and react to different situations,” said Bruno Idzan (181 cm / 75 kg), who played a total of 65 games with 120 points in his first season in Sweden with Viggbyholms IK. The Croatian sensation was the second leading scorer in the J18 Division 1 with 81 points (50+31) in 35 games played. He had 32 (26+6) in 17 games in the U16 Division 1 and respectful 7 points (3+4) in 13 games with the club’s senior amateur team. That gave him the chance to move up to the top level of Swedish U18 hockey for next season.

“It was a little bit surprising for me. I didn’t think I would play with the men, just train with them, but the whole experience turned out quite well. This was a great season and finishing first in the tournament in Sofia is the icing on the cake. I was tired after the long season, but this was my debut with the national team, so I found enough energy for the championship. It was a little bit different, because two third of the team played together in the ICEJL and these were my first games this season with the guys, but we have known each other from many years, so it wasn’t difficult to be in synch,” commented Idzan. 

His success in Sweden went almost unnoticed in the home country: “There is no media interest on me. It is not big news in Croatia. There are not many people, outside of those that are involved in hockey, that follow what is going on, especially abroad. Next season I know that the level will be higher with HV71. I have no idea what to expect, but I hope to have similar results. So far, I didn’t have a chance to play hockey on such level.”

This would be the next step on the road to the top for Bruno Idzan, following a similar path as his childhood idol Borna Rendulic.
2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division II Group B