The Revival of the Romanian National team and the Usual Winners of the LNH
Last season was a low point for Romanian ice hockey; the national team
suffered major defeat in the World Championships and failed to qualify,
and the domestic league was a sad story of delayed games and accusations
of cheating directed at both Steaua and the referees. This year’s been no
walk in the park either, and has had its own share of scandals, but
the season ended with triumph for the National team as they sailed home in
style with the World Championships Division 2 title in front of their home
crowd in Bucharest.
The Romanian Cup and LNH 2000-2001
The first "big" event on the Romanian ice hockey calendar this season was
the Romanian Cup in September. The teams were divided into two groups - one in Gheorgheni and the other in Bucharest. Before the tournament
even began HC Sfantu Gheorghe announced its withdrawal, and everyone believed that HCSG were finished as a team. However, with a lot of effort, Dumitru Iordan (Sfantu Gheorghe’s "Mr. Hockey") managed to save the day. Although HCSG were saved, another team had to pull out – Sportul Studentesc. The students’ lack of money meant that they wouldn’t be able play in the Cup.
With some considerable effort Steaua won their group in Bucharest, Rapid having proved a dangerous adversary. In the homogeneous "Transylvanian" group in
Gheorgheni, SCMC had the same trouble with home team Progym. But, both
favourites qualified for the grand finale in Bucharest which Steaua (defending their 1999 title, won in Miercurea Ciuc) went on to win, with surprising ease, 6-0.
The same seven teams as last season participated in this season’s Connex-sponsored
Liga Nationala de Hochei pe Gheata. Would Rapid be the
team to watch? As it turned out, they weren’t. Sadly they were already on the brink of financial catastrophe when the season started and, after going down 3-43 (!!) in Miercurea Ciuc on Nov. 5th, the bubble finally burst. With players
not receiving salaries and a turbulent quarrel with the Referee
Guild, Rapid refused to play ice hockey that November day, and the
the result was a travesty. In the end Rapid concluded the league with
a mostly junior team, plus Levente Elekes, the brilliant goalthief whom
they had bought last season from SCMC. Luckily for him, Elekes was
allowed to return to the SCMC in time for the playoffs.
Last season the preliminaries were boring, with little or no tension or excitement. This year, with the introduction of the semi-finals, the race for the playoffs had that bit of extra spice. During the last rounds Rapid, Sportul and Dunarea fought for the fourth and last place in the "playoff-shuttle" (SCMC and Steaua had already secured
their places, and in that order). SCMC made it to the last round without conceding a single point, at which point they faced their arch-rivals Steaua in Bucharest. Progym journeyed into no-mans-land, despite a new sponsor (Apicom Ltd.), and
finished third. This meant they met Steaua in the semifinals. So, who came out on top in the "3 Emperor battle"? Answer: Sportul who had to get two points from their last double, and which was, interestingly enough, decided on the Patinoar de Galati, Dunarea's home ice. Sportul made it through and were paired with SCMC in the other semi.
Only the most die-hard of Sportul fans could have hoped for a win against the
reigning champions SCMC, and indeed SCMC won the best-of-three series
2-0 (9-2 and 13-0). Steaua and Progym was a much more open-ended story, and
both teams won their respective home games. Steaua had the advantage of
home ice because of their superior position in the league. In front of
3000 spectators, Steaua and Progym offered one of the best games this
season. Steaua won with 3-2 turning the game in the last period. Progym
had to settle for the bronze with Sportul (3-1). As usual the
final pairing was old "friends" Steaua and SCMC and after only 3 games Steaua
regained the title. SCMC were a disappointment and, even according to their own
management, lost to the better team having suffered from a bad bout of self-
confidence when the going got tough. And so Steaua secured the
With two fixtures out of a possible four, Romania had a different
season internationally. The Juniors had the opportunity but failed to
produce in the end as Romania's "bogey-team", the Netherlands, brought
them down. There was Bronze for the U-20's in Belgrade (YUG), after losing to the
Netherlands in the group-final (but beating Yugoslavia) for Bronze, and
there was Silver for the U-18's in Sofia (BUL), after a narrow 3-4 loss against
the Netherlands. But these results were not as impressive as they sound, since in both cases the Championships played were in the „basement" divisions.
For the first time ever, Romania formed a womens team who were subsequently given the privilege of arranging their Championship at home. The outcome was the Ladies
qualification for Div 1, although Romania were taught some lessons by some of the the more experienced opponents. The Netherlands (surprise!) proved to be the
strongest team and won the tournament ahead of Italy.
The last event of the season was the Seniors attempts to reverse the fortunes of the team and restore some glory to their tarnished reputation. And, on home ice in the Mihai Flamaropol ice stadium, Romanian ice hockey at last had something to celebrate; a clear and steady campaign ending with 5 straight victories and 46-4 (goals), as well as promotion to next year’s Div 1; the rightful home of the ice warriors from Romania. Hopefully appropriate efforts will be made to ensure they stay there for longer than one year.
For the first time (to my knowledge), a Championship was arranged for
women. Triumf from Bucuresti won ahead of SCMC and Progym. So far these
are the only ones, but maybe there will be more teams in the future.
On the junior scene, Dinamo appeared. With former player Iustinian as
coach, the Dinamo team of U-15 kids played a tournament in Sweden and came a very impressive second place. It is not yet known if there will be a senior Dinamo team in the LNH.
During the season rumours not only abound about Dinamo's comeback, but also about the construction of yet another ice rink in Bucharest, and a program to expand ice hockey to Cluj, Tirgu Mures, Radauti, Suceava and maybe other cities in the future. Connex, as the main sponsor, has a genuine interest in the game and would like to see a bigger market.
Shortly from Romanian league...
(01-12-00 Rollo) HC Rapid Bucuresti seems to have been dissolved in the middle of the
season. According to rumors, Elekes have returned to SCMC and Lupascu,
Andrei and Popovici have gone to Steaua. Earlier the 5-6 Ukrainians also
left the club. Indeed, the leadership of the team have declared that due
to financial problems everyone is free to go to other teams. Because of
the financial situation Rapid did not travel to Galati, and therefore
Dunarea was awarded 2x5-0. It is obvious, we have seen the last of Rapid
this season. How this will inflict the standings and the rest of the
season is yet unknown.
A season filled with scandals and accusations and a prolonged schedule
(03-07-00 ada) Let's have a look at a real hockey-developing country - Romania. Elsewhere in Europe all the hockey leagues were over, in Romania there was still
regular season on, only NHL was longer. Why? Read in article written by a
Swede Rollo who likes Romania and ice hockey.
Author: © Rollo
Language correction: Elmer and Marylin
Translations: Czech (by Petra)
French by Jack Barron
What promised to be an exciting "Liga Nationala de Hochei pe
Gheata" 1999-2000, turned out to be one of the most negative seasons in
Romanian ice hockey history. Not only did the National team severely fail
in the WC-C pool in Chinese Beijing, the championship at home was also a sad story
of scandals and foul play. But apart from all negativity the season saw
some exciting games and a more evenly competitive league than for many
Liga Nationala de Hochei pe Gheata 1999-2000
Crippled and prolonged until the end of May, the league schedule had to be
changed many times. The main reason for the delays
was the repairs to the
ice halls in Bucharest and Galati. The pipes for the cooling systems had
to be delivered from Romania's only company constructing these; Silcotub
in Zalau, and they failed to deliver in time. Thus, the teams from
Bucharest and Galati "stood" without a home arena in the first
rounds. Steaua and Rapid refused to play their home games in
Transylvania. SCMC with a functional arena speared ahead early and
remained on top for the whole season. What was regarded as the usual
affair between SCMC and Steaua turned out to be more exciting then
that. Rapid bought SCMC's top-scorer Levente Elekes and became a respected
adversary. Progym with their fine junior effort had created a winning
team. In the end Steaua held their position against the chasing two and
became the opponent to SCMC in the final playoff. Rapid and Progym had to
settle for a "bronze play-offs".
For the last two seasons Steaua
had narrowly won the finals
with the closest of margins; 3-2 in games. SCMC had now for the first time
since 1997 won the preliminary round and looked forward to have the
decisive match at home. This was not to be as SCMC won three
straights! The first home game in Miercurea Ciuc, ended with a close 5-4
victory, after being down 3-4 in the second pause. The two following games
in Bucharest promised close and hard fought fights, though in the end
Steaua stood there humiliated after loosing 0-8 and 3-7. In the 3rd prize
fight, Rapid grabbed the bronze, winning once in Gheorgheni was enough for
a 3-1 total.
For the other teams
the season was a boring run. They had
very little to upset the four "bigs", though Dunarea
managed to win at
home against Progym
and draw with Steaua
made a weak appearance,
far from their last season's fourth place. Poor HCSG
did not manage to win
a single point, mainly due to the loss of their key players.
Though creating an exciting run for the play-offs this season made
headlines mainly because of scandals. All teams accused the referees of
being puppets to Steaua. Rapid's
fans started a riot in the stands when
Rapid played Steaua. Players in the SCMC were under suspicion for some
criminal doings. Let's hope we do not have to see this next season.
Apart from the league Steaua and SCMC participated in the Continental
. Both teams made it to the second run where hard and excellent
opposition made it stop. Steaua though made headlines because of bold and
The Romanian Cup was also played in october -99. Held in Miercurea Ciuc, Steaua won surprisingly easy.
will unfortunately be a team short. Rapid decided to close down their ice hockey activity after only one season. However, rumours are
that a second team is emerging in Miercurea Ciuc. In time for this report
both these rumours are unconfirmed.
Romania went to China in the belief that it should at least be a final
against old arch-rivals Hungary. However, it turned out to be the worst
ever World Cup in Romanian icehockey history
. Things started smooth and
well - 9-1 against southern neighbour Bulgaria
. That was about it. After
4-4 vs Croatia
, Romania was out of the final play-offs on goal defecit. A
play-offs for 4-6 place could not be as challenging but Romania only
managed to draw with Lithuania
and lose to Korea
! After the debacle
scandals were told; heavy drinking, touristing and a lack of
In the fall of 1999 Romania played a qualification
in Poland. The team consisted of players from Transylvania
(SCMC and Progym) solely. 0-4, 1-9 and 2-11 were not flattering results
against Great Britain, France and Poland.
I learned that ice hockey is indeed played by women
too. Appearently a team in Bucharest had some activity and is now joined
by SCMC and Progym who decided to start sections for women.
The really good news for Romanian ice hockey this season was Dinamo Bucuresti's
announcement that they are back on the hockey scene with plans to build a completely new ice hall in Bucharest. Dinamo will however start
with only a junior team next season.
Rollo's website devoted to Romanian hockey: http://home.swipnet.se/hochei