Clubs representing four different European nations have battled their way through to the semi-final stage of this season’s Euro Hockey League following a pulsating four days of action at the competition’s legendary KO16/KO8 weekender.
KHC Dragons of Belgium, who will host the upcoming FINAL4 event at their stadium in Brasschaat in June, will play Rot-Weiss Köln of Germany in the competition semi-finals with England’s Wimbledon of England taking on Dutch giants HC Oranje-Rood, hosts of KO16/KO8, in their FINAL4 contest.
With 16 teams being reduced to just four over four days of intense knockout action, the Euro Hockey League’s KO16/KO8 weekender has long been considered a highlight in the hockey calendar. The tenth edition of this unique event proved no different, with plenty of incredible moments as some of the world’s finest players put on a show in front of big crowds.
KHC Dragons claimed the first of the two wins required for a safe passage thorugh to FINAL4 by defeating compatriots Racing Club de Bruxelles 2-1 thanks to strikes from Thomas Verheijen and Belgium Red Lions star Thomas Briels. They made light work of KO8 opponents Racing Club de France, with Briels and Alexander Hendrickx both hitting doubles with Florent van Aubel also on target in a 5-1 win.
With home support on very much on their side in FINAL4, KHC Dragons will feel that their chances of winning a first ever Euro Hockey League title are looking good. However, in semi-final opponents KTHC Rot-Weiss Köln they face a team that are clearly in form and packed with talent.
Goals from Germany international Mats Grambusch and Jonas Gomoll gave Köln a 2-1 victory over SV Kampong of the Netherlands to set up a KO8 meeting with iconic Spanish club Real Club de Polo de Barcelona. Rot-Weiss again proved themselves too strong for their opponents, with legendary Germany striker Christopher Zeller and Marco Miltkau scoring the goals as their team emerged as 2-1 winners to move into the FINAL4.
Wimbledon became the first English club to reach FINAL4 since Reading HC in 2011, a team that contained England and Great Britain international Simon Mantell, an attacker who played a pivotal role for Wimbledon over the weekend. The English champions defeated Moritz Fürste’s multiple EHL champions UHC Hamburg in the KO16 round before recording a shootout win over a second German outfit in the shape of Mannheimer, with Mantell on target in the 2-2 draw ahead of a perfect five from five conversion record in the shootout.
Wimbledon’s opponents in the FINAL4 will be HC Oranje-Rood, who thrilled the home fans with two impressive victories. A 3-2 triumph over Dutch rivals AH&BC Amsterdam was inspired by Argentina Olympic gold medallist Agustin Mazzilli, who scored twice in a 3-2 win to set up a KO8 clash with Spain’s Atletic Terrassa. Netherlands internationals Mink van der Weerden and Bob de Voogd gave the home favourites a 2-0 triumph to keep alive their ambitions of winning the tenth edition of the Euro Hockey League.
Tickets for the FINAL4 are already on sale at www.ehlhockey.tv/tickets for a 5,000 capacity stadium in Brasschaat for what promises to be the perfect end to a wonderful tenth EHL season. For more details on the Euro Hockey League as well as highlights from all the weekend’s matches, visit http://ehlhockey.tv/.
EHL 2016-2017 KO16 and KO8
14-17 April 2017 at HC Oranje-Rood, Eindhoven (NED)
Friday 14 April
M1: Banbridge HC 1 (M Allister), Racing Club de France 1 C Peters-Deutz). Racing win 3-0 on shoot-out
M2: WKS Grunwald Poznan 0, Real Club de Polo 6 (A Casasayas 3, D Alegre 2, A Reyne).
M3: KHC Dragons 2 (T Verheijen, T Briels), Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles 1 (J Truyens).
M4: SV Kampong 1 (Q Caspers), KHTC Rot-Weiss Koln 2 (M Grambusch, J Gomoll).
Saturday 15 April
M5: Atletic Terrassa 4 (R Oliva 3, M Bolto), Lisnagarvey HC 1 (S Murray).
M6: Wimbledon 3 (P Roper 2, B Arnold), UHC Hamburg 1 (J Schmid).
M7: HC Oranje-Rood 3 (A Mazzilli 2, M van der Weerden), AHBC Amsterdam 2 (B Burkhardt, J Reid-Ross).
M8: Mannheimer HC 2 (G Barreiros, F Schües), Club Egara 1 (P Quemada).
Sunday 16 April
M9: KHC Dragons 5 (T Briels 2, A Hendrickx 2, F van Aubel), Racing Club de France 1 (C Peters-Deutz).
M10: Real Club de Polo 1 (G Coll), KHTC Rot-Weiss Köln 2 (C Zeller, M Miltkau).
Monday 17 April
M11: Wimbledon 2 (S Mantell, I Sloan), Mannheimer HC 2 (G Peillat, J Ehling). Wimbledon win 5-3 on shoot-out
M12: HC Oranje-Rood 2 (M van der Weerden, B de Voogd), Atletic Terrassa 0.