06.10.2015, Brussels, EHL; “Everything was so quick,” Tobias Hauke says, looking back on Harvestehuder THC’s victory in the Euro Hockey League in 2013/14.
In one of the fairytale stories of the EHL, the debutants were dark horses amid a well-stacked top of the KO16 draw in Eindhoven.
It opened with an immense tussle against fellow German outfit Uhlenhorst Mülheim 1-0, before running up wins over Club de Campo and Racing Club Bruxelles before eventually upsetting Oranje Zwart on their home patch in a thrilling shoot-out.
Hauke – the 2013 World Player of the Year – was pivotal to that success, a dynamo at the base of midfield, setting their attacks in motion while protecting the defence in an awesome display, not that he remembers the exact details.
“It was our first year in the EHL and we were really proud just to in it. We trained really hard for the first round in Barcelona and get qualified for the KO16 in Eindhoven.
“From there, it was only six short days and no time to think about what happened! The final in Eindhoven against OZ was unbelievable.”
And he is now hoping to set the wheels in motion of another title assault from his home patch at HTHC, an event that he says will provide a great moment in his club’s history.
“We are really happy to host such a big tournament at our home ground; our club members have worked really hard to make this tournament the very best and we are looking forward to welcoming the other top teams from all over Europe.”
He adds that the Hamburg public are known for their love of the game and says that it should make for a “really special atmosphere” for all the matches.
On the pitch, his focus is singularly on winning Pool B ahead of Scotland’s Grange and Austria’s HC Wien.
A lot of faces have changed since 2014 with English trio Brendan Creed, George Farrant and David Goodfield joining the ranks this year while Felix Mathes is another strong arrival from Nürnburg.
Hauke says that they can make an impact: “They are really good players and bring new qualities to our team. They are young and getting better and better every day but we still have a lot of things we can improve.”
Meshing the new players with the established stars like Hauke, Michael Körper and Tobias Walter has been their aim in the early weeks of the German league season.
And, if they can make it through Round 1, they will be looking to make another big impact on the competition when the knock-out stages come around.
It is one of a series of intriguing story lines in Hamburg this weekend where 12 of Europe’s top teams will battle it out for one of the four tickets to next Easter’s KO16.
Image Credit: Euro Hockey League/Frank Uijlenbroek. This image may not be reproduced without the explicit permission of the EHL or the photographer.