Hockey: Eurohockey Challenge III & IV in Slovenia

Friday, June 9, 2017, 15:57

Qormi Hockey Club and Floriana Young Stars HC have just finished their commitments in their respective Eurohockey Club Challenge participation with mixed results. Whilst Qormi were relegated to Challenge IV, Floriana were promoted to Challenge III. In a way, they are reversing their positions. However, Qormi have not qualified for European hockey for next season and therefore their place will be taken by this year’s National League champions Sliema Hotsticks. As champions, Sliema will be eligible to take part in the highest ranked tournament to represent their country and will therefore be participating in Challenge III, the position Young Stars earned with their promotion from Challenge IV. Irony has it that as Knock Out winners, Young Stars qualified to take part in the European hockey competitions next year but they will have to take part in Challenge IV.

Qormi’s results in Challenge III does not do justice to their performance. With a young squad, they lost narrowly to the Greek champions Asteras (1-3)and they had an even more close tie with the Norwegian champions Kringsja. These two clubs had been promoted from the Challenge IV tournament held last year in Malta. The Norwegians won 1-0. However, with the sequence of the results of the other matches, Qormi only needed to win their 3rd match of the tournament with Swedish champions Nacka by 2 clear goals to actually make it to the playoffs for 1st place. At the beginning of the 4th quarter, with the score 3-1 in favour of Qormi, it looked like the feat was possible but a collapse in energy and lack of experience gave the opportunity for the Swedes to equalise to 3-3, condemning the Maltese team to a play off to determine who gets relegated. Unfortunately, they came up against a stronger team from Lithuania, Baltic Champs, and lost the final game 5-3. The other team to be relegated were Olcote from Hungary.

Floriana on the other hand proved to be a surprise package as up to 2 months before the event their participation was in question due to injuries and players being unavailable. However, after beating the host country’s representatives Predanovci 2-1 in the first match, their confidence and composure started to grow. With a similar result (2-1) they beat the Greek representatives Napeos, to set up a top of the table clash with Ukraine representatives Berdyscev. Ukraine has a much higher ranking in Europe and they beat Young Stars 5-3, who still gave a good account of themselves.

Floriana Young Stars had done enough however to earn a place in the playoff for 1st place and promotion to Challenge III for their country. In the playoff, they beat Bulgarian champions Toshevo 5-3, coming from 1-0 down for a well deserved top finish. 2 teams get promoted and named 1st cojointly, the other team being the Ukrainians of Berdyscev.

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