The EHL season 2014/15 will kick off tomorrow with its first round in Barcelona, Spain. 12 teams have prequalified to the next round (KO16/Final Four), so in Barcelona we will see 12 teams compete in four pools of 3 to take the remaining 4 spots.
Pool A will see East Grinstead (ENG), SV Kampong (NED) and Dinamo Stroitel (RUS) battle it out. There are high expectations for the match between East Grinstead and Kampong, who will meet on Saturday at 17:30 for the last match of the day. East Grinstead is a veteran of the competition, marking their 6 appearance in 7 years, but they will have to be at their best to take victory. SV Kampong had a solid if not stellar debut at EHL last year, bowing to pressure in the knock out stages, but their performance in the Dutch National league this year has been excellent. Dinamo Stroitel are the newcomers in this pool, making their EHL debut, who narrowly missed a place in the Russian National Final.
Pool B features three new teams who have never before participated in EHL. Monkstown (IRL) come to the competition after an excellent year, where they won the EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy in Cagliary in May of this year. They have also won the Irish Hockey League for two years in a row (2012/2013 and 2013/2014). Our second contender in pool B is France’s Racing Club, who recently won silver in the French National League, beaten in the final by St. Germain HC. Lastly, Royal Daring (BEL) come to EHL in the middle of a winning streak: they have won 7 games in a row in Belgium’s Audi League.
Pool D is where we find our host, Atlètic Terrassa. Back for a seventh time, they hope to make the most of their home advantage. Another veteran of EHL, Bromac Kelbourne (SCO), come back for their sixth try at the title. The Glasgow based club has won the last 10 Scottish Championships. Rounding off this pool, SV Arminen return to EHL after their debut last year, where they suffered some heavy defeats. Marshalling a lot of spirit, Arminen have come back and hope to improve on last year’s performance.
Pool C is where we see one of the favourites of this round, Rot Weiss Köln. They are hoping to improve on last season’s career finish fourth place. WKS Grunwald Poznan (POL) are back once again, having become a fixture in EHL, competing in every single edition so far. They narrowly missed a bye by losing the Polish final to Pomorzanin Torun. The last team in this pool is HC Bra (ITA) who is back for the third time after a few year’s absence. They won their fifth Italian title in their history last season, in a very celebrated victory, as the finals were played in Bra.
To follow all the action LIVE http://www.ehlhockey.tv/live/
Photograph: EHF/Frank Uijlenbroek