The European Trophy
A trio of Vancouver Canucks prospects and a handful of Canucks alumni find themselves competing in the largest ice hockey tournament in Europe: the European Trophy.
Thirty-two teams from seven different countries are split up into four divisions where they each will play eight games over the next four months, with the top eight teams advancing to the Finals (also known as the Red Bulls Salute) from December 13th until the 16th.
This is year seven for the tournament, which started out with only eight teams from two different countries back in 2006. The first four years the tournament was named the Nordic Trophy and was played between teams from Sweden and Finland, before expanding and rebranding itself as the European Trophy in 2010. While a bulk of the games are played before the competing clubs start their respective league games, teams will also play games in the middle of their seasons.
Defenseman Henrik Tommernes of the Frolunda Indians (Swedish Elite League), along with forwards Alexandre Grenier of EC Red Bull Salzburg (Austrian Hockey League) and Ludwig Blomstrand of Djugardens IF (HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden) are the three Canucks prospects taking part in the tournament with their respective club teams.
This marks the third year in a row Tommernes has played in the tournament; he collected 13 points (7-6-13) in 19 games during his first two appearances. The Canucks seventh-round selection in the 2011 started this year’s tournament off with a bang, scoring in Frolunda’s opening game, a 3-2 win over EV Zug, and followed that up with an assist in the Indian’s 2-0 win over ZSC Lions.
The offensive defenseman has collected three points (1-2-3) through six games, helping the Indians to a 3-1-2 record, which leaves them tied for third place in the West Division. Up next for Tommernes and his SEL squad is a game against Jokerit on September 7th.
Grenier, the Canucks third-round pick in 2011, joins the defending European Trophy Champions, EC Red Bull Salzburg, in his first year playing in Europe. After wrapping up his QMJHL career with the Halifax Mooseheads last season, the Laval, Quebec, native signed a one-year deal with Red Bull hoping to develop his game in Europe.
Grenier has been used up-and-down the line-up through six games as Red Bull sits tied for third place in the North Division with a 3-3-0 record. The 6-foot-5 forward has four penalty minutes so far, but has failed to register a point. Red Bull has an extended break from the tournament; up next they will take on HC Kometa Group on October 16th.
After a slow start to the tournament for Blomstrand, which saw him scratched from Djugardens’ second game of the tournament, the Canucks fourth-round pick in 2011 has bounced back with three goals in four games since. His three goals currently have him tied for first among junior players in the European Trophy in that department. The 19-year-old forward and his squad are currently in sixth place in the East Division with a record of 2-3-1. Up next for Djugardens IF is a tilt against Tappara Tampere on September 6th.
Along with the three Canucks prospects competing in the tournament, a handful of Canucks alumni are also taking part. Notable names include: Rob Davison and Alex Auld (EC Red Bull Salzburg), Matt Pettinger and Brandon Reid (Hamburg), Jozef Balej (HC Pizen 1929), Petr Nedved (Bili Tygri Liberec), Byron Ritchie (SC Bern), Mario Bliznak (HC Slovan Bratislava), Jason Krog (HV71), Tyler Bouck (ERC Ingolstadt), Josh Holden (EV Zug), Jarkko Ruutu (Jokerit), along with Jeff Tambellini and Ryan Shannon (ZSC Lions), who are coached by former Canucks player and head coach, Marc Crawford.
Not taking part in the European Trophy is AIK Hockey Harnosand of the SEL; the new team for the Canucks 2011 first-round draft pick Nicklas Jensen. The 6-foot-3 forward opted to sign a one-year contract in Sweden instead of returning to his Ontario Hockey League squad, the Oshawa Generals. The Denmark native does have an out-clause in his contract if he should make the Canucks roster this season.
Through three preseason games, Jensen has recorded one assist, while splitting playing time on the first, third and fourth lines. The SEL regular-season schedule kicks off on September 13th.