A season to watch

A season to watch

Davide Tuniz15 Dec 2014Davide Tuniz»

Eurohockey.com talks with experienced Haskey Hasselt defender Gabe Yeung to introduce Belgium hockey season


1) it was a busy summer in Belgian hockey, with many changes in leagues format, can you explain how works the 2014-2015 season?

The 2014-15 season began with the Belgian Cup format with all six teams plus Gullegem from the National League in order to keep the 12 game format competitive the same like last season as when Herentals was in the league. This is also provides Gullegem with the experience in order to be competitive for next season should they field a necessary roster for the competition. The Championship format will include six teams: Antwerp, Liege, Leuven, Liege, Olympia and Hasselt with a 10 game championship format playing 2 games against each opponent (1 home and 1 away).

2.) is this a good changement for hockey in Belgium?

I think its a good thing from a developmental point of view as the Belgian League seems to go through a cycle period with each season as some teams choosing to remain in National League meanwhile others like Gullegem desire to be in a higher competition while playing in the Belgian Cup. With the Netherlands losing a team or two each season, I only see a possible merge between the two leagues in the distant future. However like always budget is a problem for most Belgium teams to join a co-operative effort with the Netherlands each year. For the time being I see both leagues retaining strength as teams rebuild each off season with free agents from dormant teams as its always good to build within.

3) Currently Belgium has a top team - HYC Herentals - and other teams almost amateurish. There isn't a risk of "Latvianization" of Belgium hockey, like in Latvia or in Croatia where a unique team (Dinamo Riga) monopolize the scene, overshadowing all other hockey in the country?

Herentals have always been the model organization for teams in Belgium year after year. They seem to always retain their players,  resources,  corporate sponsors as well as reformulate their budget each year. Most players on the Belgian National Team are comprised of players from HYC Herentals. As I would expect, in order to keep their players playing at more of a competitive level,  I do not see them leaving the Netherlands unless they are forced to join another league such as Belgium or possibly the German Oberliga. Belgium has been taking massive strides at the international level recently and will vastly improve within the upcoming years. I would not be surprised if they end up being promoted to Divison 1A within a few years time.

4) Your favourite for Belgian League and Cup?

Without being biased I would have to say Antwerp Phantoms. They have a really good club that is in tuned with developing their players from youth and doing their best to retain their players for seniors such as the Belgian Championship. Historically they have always been a championship contending team and I do not see them giving anyone the advantage at this stage in the cup. This season each team has been more competitive by picking up players from dormant teams as well as acquiring imports from abroad. It's anyone game as far as who wins the cup and championship. Looking at the results of the cup it's very easy to see who the competitive teams are. I think Antwerp will also be the heavy favorites for the championship..

5) is there some young player to watch?

Jordi Laan from Hasselt is an exciting forward to watch. Not yet quite 18 years of age but is already mirroring older players in terms of production and should be a dynamic force in the future. Sean McCann-Coppens and Bryan Verhaegen are another two youngsters who have already bide their time in the youth system in Antwerp and are making rapid strides this season. Its difficult to say as each team has their own crop of young talent but nonetheless they all do a great job in sustaining a very bright future for Belgian hockey.

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