EV Landshut, also known as EVL Landshut Eishockey and formerly known as the Landshut Cannibals, are a professional ice hockey team based in Landshut, Bavaria, Germany. They currently play in Oberliga the third level of ice hockey in Germany. They previously played in the second-tier league, DEL2.
|City||Landshut, Bavaria, Germany|
|Home arena||Eisstadion am Gutenbergweg|
|General manager||Jürgen Rumrich|
|Head coach||Jiří Ehrenberger|
|2013–present||EVL Landshut Eishockey|
The team was founded in 1948 as Eislaufverein Landshut (EVL), but since 2002 the professional team is organised as “Landshut Cannibals”. The EVL is still responsible for non-professional areas, i.e. junior hockey. From 1963 to 1994 the Team was a participant in the Ice hockey Bundesliga and is a founder member of the DEL. The team won the West German National Championship in 1970 and 1983.
The home arena of the Landshut Cannibals is the Eisstadion am Gutenbergweg (hockey arena at the Gutenbergweg), where they have played since 1957, after leaving tentative other locations. The arena has since been renovated several times and currently holds 6,750 people.
Landshut’s player development program is counted among the best in Germany, producing numerous well-known hockey players such as “Germany’s hockey player of the century” Erich Kühnhackl, Gerd Truntschka (All Star at the 1987 World Ice Hockey Championships) and longtime NHL players Marco Sturm (Washington Capitals) and Christoph Schubert (Atlanta Thrashers).
The origins of ice hockey in Landshut and promotion to the top division (1934–1957)Edit
It was not until 1934 when Landshut-born Heinz Wittmann organised an ice hockey equipment from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The first games were played under the name of “Team Brauerei Wittmann” (named after Wittmann Brewery) against squads from Wartenberg, Bavaria and Donaustauf. On February 1, 1934 the team was incorporated into the Ski-Club Landshut (SCL). The same season they got champions of the Danube region. The 1935-36 season marked the first appearance in the Kreisliga (then second division), where the squad played the following three years. In 1937 the ice hockey section was transferred from the SCL to another club, the Turngemeinde Landshut (TGL). After the 1938-39 season a regular schedule of the league was not possible any more because of the outbreak of World War II. During the war there only took place a few friendly games, for example against Straubing on January 10, 1943. From the first post-war season 1945-46 to 1947-48 the team started in the newly formed Landesliga – again as section of the TGL. In 1948 contentions evolved concerning transferring of the earnings from the lucrative hockey games to the club's other sections.
As a result of the dispute most of TGL's hockey players formed a new registered association, the “Eislaufverein Landshut” (EVL). The founding ceremony took place on April 25, 1948 in the “Sterngarten” tavern. The driving force behind this move was Georg Zeller, other notable players of the early time were Hans Frühmorgen, Walter Rauhmeier and Jaro Truntschka. The latter would be eight times best EVL-scorer of the year. The few players who stayed with the TGL formed a squad that broke up in 1951. The newly founded EVL-team however started in the Landesliga, the then second division. In the 1948-49 season, their first one, the team lost the finals against EV Tegernsee. The following eight seasons were also played in the Landesliga, until the team won the promotion tie 1956-57 against TEV Miesbach. That game's decisive player was Jaro Truntschka scoring two times. Following this victory the club moved up to the Oberliga, then the top level hockey league in Germany.
From the underdog to the champion of the ice hockey Bundesliga (1957–1994)Edit
In the run-up to the first season in the Oberliga calls for the construction of an artificial ice rink grew louder, because with only having a natural ice rink the EVL would not be competitive in Germany's highest hockey league. After prolonged negotiations the city favored building an ice rink instead of a public pool, and with joint work the Eisstadion am Gutenbergweg was completed timely for the 1957-58 season (then without roof). The official inauguration took place on November 10, 1957 against EC Kitzbühel. 5,000 spectators saw a 4-4 draw. Due to the new rink the EVL played against international teams (e.g. Blau-Weiss Zürich, HC Bozen or HK Partizan Belgrad for the first time. Following the season the German league system was reformed and the EV Landshut was relegated to the second division (then called Oberliga).
Forcing the pace of junior hockey player development the team was quite successful in the following years. Placed 1st after the 1961-62 season the EVL lost the promotion ties against TSC Eintracht Dortmund, but the consecutive season they beat Dortmund and promoted to the ice hockey Bundesliga. Without acquiring new players the Landshut-based team started in their first Bundesliga season 1963-64 as underdog and candidate for relegation. The home games attracted up to 10,000 people. Surprisingly the team reached the fifth place out of eight. 1965 marked the beginnings of a friendly relationship with HC Sparta Praha, e.g. regarding training camps and friendly games. In 1967, ten years after the construction of the ice rink, the stadium was roofed and converted into an arena. That year the EV Landshut signed coach Karel Gut from Sparta Praha for three years. In his first year at the Isar his team was placed third. The following year was rather disappointing: Being placed fourth, the squad had to play relegation. The 1969-70 season preliminary round, being under pressure to perform, was finished on the first place. As the champions round was also dominated by Landshut, the team won the German championship for the first time. The hockey euphoria in the city was immense, four out of ten home games were sold out. The most decisive players of the season were Alois Schloder, Rudi Hejtmanek and goalie Sepp Schramm. In the 1970-71 European Cup Landshut defeated SG Cortina but was disqualified due to an unlicensed player.
The following years the team were runners-up for two times (both 1973-74 and 1975–76). For years, both Alois Schloder and Erich Kühnhackl belonged to the top-five scorers in the Bundesliga. Important task for every coach was the integration of the most talented junior players into the professional team. In a legendary game in the 1974-75 season the team faced a 0-10 loss against Krefeld, because there were only six players available (due to a flu epidemic). In the following season two young players joined the team, which would be important in the years to come: Bernhard Englbrecht and Gerd Truntschka. At the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck three EVL-players joined the German national team (Alois Schloder, Erich Kühnhackl and Klaus Auhuber), which won bronze behind the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia – the greatest victory in German hockey history. After middling results in the 1977-78 season the management signed František Pospíšil. Nevertheless, the team had to play relegation and the attendance dropped from estimated 4,500 to 1,700. Signing Jiří Kochta for the 1979-80 season brought luck and the fourth place.
In 1980 the coach of the first championship, Karel Gut, returned to Landshut. This season saw the NHL-like playoff system introduced. While the team was eliminated in the 1980-81 quarterfinals, and the 1981-82 semifinals, they knocked out the Mannheimer ERC in the 1982-83 finals and could call themselves German champions for the second time. The major players for Landshut were Bob Laycock, Robin Laycock and Michael Betz (scored the decisive 4-5 goal in the last final).
In the 1983-84 season the EV Landshut only lost the finals against the Kölner EC and were runners-up. In the following years the club faced increasing financial troubles as did most Bavarian hockey strongholds. Depts totalled 2.7 mil. D-Mark. This was because Landshut's junior player education was expensive, and the well-educated players would be contracted by wealthy large city-clubs Despite signing a few well-known players like Tom Roulston, Matti Hagman and Tom O'Regan between 1984 and 1989 the club was not able to come through the quarterfinals. The preliminary standings declined from fourth to eighth, before the team missed the playoff qualification in the 1989-90 preliminaries. The relegation round was finished on the first rank. The 1990-91 preliminaries were also completed only on the ninth rank, but in the playdowns the EVL knocked out the EHC Dynamo Berlin. In the following season the squad finally hit rock bottom: Losing all relegation games, the EVL owed its participation in the Bundesliga the baize table (two contrahents resigned). After managing the 1992-93 relegation round, Landshut's management decided to invest in a punchy lineup to play for the championship, but was knocked out in the quarterfinals.
The founding of the DEL and the sale of the license (1994–2000)Edit
Due to the desolate financial situation in German professional ice hockey the Deutsche Eishockey Liga was founded in 1994. It was the first self-managed German professional league. All teams of the Bundesliga and the 2nd bundesliga were outsourcing their professional areas into corporations. The EV Landshut's team was transferred to the Cannibals Eissport GmbH and because of marketing purposes the professional team was known under “Landshut Cannibals” since then.
In the 1994-95 DEL season – the first ever – coach Bernie Johnston was able to keep most of last year's squad and strengthened it with signing NHL-star Wallace Schreiber. Furthermore, benefited the team from the 1994–95 NHL lockout more than most other DEL franchises, with Pavel Bure, Scott Young and Uwe Krupp playing shortly for the Cannibals. Bure's only game for Landshut was legendary, scoring three times against the Eisbären Berlin. Ranked second after the preliminaries, the Cannibals knocked out the Lausitzer Füchse in the round of sixteen, before defeating both Kassel Huskies and Krefeld Pinguine. In the finals they were only beaten by the Kölner Haie. Wallace Schreiber and Mike Bullard were top-scorers of the league with 38 and 39 goals resp. The following season the Cannibals had landed José Charbonneau (top-scorer with 42 goals), while Marco Sturm entered professional level and scored 12 times. In the 1995-96 playoff season they defeated the Starbulls Rosenheim in the first round and swept the Adler Mannheim, setting up another showdown with the Kölner Haie, which was lost. In the 1996-97 playoffs they played Köln for the third time in a row, this time knocking them out in the quarterfinal round, before losing to Mannheim in the semifinals. Best scorer was Gino Cavallini with 28 goals. The team of following season's top-scorer, Dave McLlwain, swept “favorite opponent” Kölner Haie, but lost to the Eisbären Berlin in the semifinals.
For the 1998-99 DEL season the Cannibal's management envisaged proceeding to the final round for the first time in the last four years. After signing Chris Valentine as coach they contracted former NHL players Dean Evason, Jason Herter, David Bruce, Mike Casselman, Peter Douris and Bob Joyce as well as Evan Marble and Jari Korpisalo. Ranked sixth after the preliminary round the squad was knocked out surprisingly in the quarterfinals by the Adler Mannheim. The disappointment of the early elimination gave way to consternation regarding the club's financial situation. With depths totaling 10 mil. D-Mark (about 6.5 mil. USD) the club management announced on May 12, 1999 they would not be able to run a team for the 1999/2000 DEL season. The corporation Cannibals Eissport GmbH (i.e. the franchise) was sold to the Anschutz Entertainment Group, renamed “MEC Münchener Eishockey Club GmbH” (Munich ice hockey club Gmbh) and relocated to Munich, where the franchise played for three seasons as Munich Barons. In 2002 the franchise was relocated to Hamburg and started operation as Hamburg Freezers. A cooperation contract ruled out that the EV Landshut had to stay two levels below the Barons for at least three years, therefore earning 350,000 D-Mark for junior hockey development p.a. As a result, ice hockey in Landshut had to continue in the third level semi-professional Oberliga after 36 seasons of top-level participation.
The new beginning in the third division (2000–2003)Edit
With canceling top-level professional ice hockey in Landshut most of the squad left the team and continued their careers with the Munich Barons or other clubs of the DEL. At first it was Michael Eibl who the team, that consisted mainly of young players out of the club's junior teams (e.g. Markus Hundhammer and Christoph Schubert) but also foreign players like Kamil Ťoupal from HC České Budějovice. Later the management signed Gary Clark as coach. On the sixth rank after the preliminaries the squad knocked out the Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg and the TSV Erding and were qualified for playing the 2000/01 2nd Bundesliga season but had to resign due to the cooperation contract with the Munich Barons.
After completing the 2000/01 Oberliga preliminaries on rank six the team was swept by the Füchse Duisburg in the playoff quarterfinal round. That season saw later general manager Bernd Truntschka return as a player due to player shortage. The average audience dropped to 1,300 – a record low in the younger history of the club. The following season the management signed coach Bernhard Englbrecht and tried to struggle for promotion. Due to ongoing financial troubles – a legacy of the DEL-era – the club filed for bankruptcy, while the team still was playing the preliminaries. They were placed first finishing 14 points better than the second-place ESV Kaufbeuren. Finally the squad swept Erding in the semifinals and the Dresdner Eislöwen in the finals. Consequently, the EV Landshut promoted to the 2nd Bundesliga.
The Landshut Cannibals in the 2nd Bundesliga (since 2003)Edit
With re-entering the professional league system the professional area of the EV Landshut was outsourced again. Since 2002 the team is organised by the “Landshuter Eishockey Spielbetriebs-GmbH” and is known as the “Landshut Cannibals”. Bernd Truntschka was appointed general manager. In October 2002 the insolvency plan was approved and the following year the last rate was paid.
The 2002-03 2nd Bundesliga preliminaries were surprisingly finished on the fourth rank. In the playoffs the squad knocked out the Heilbronner Falken but was defeated 2-3 games by SC Riessersee in the playoff semifinals. Christian Brittig was top-scorer with 20 goals. The Cannibal's second season in the league was even more successful: They beat the EV Duisburg, before defeating EC Bad Nauheim in the fifth and last game 3-2 SO. After losing the finals to Wolfsburg in four games Landshut were runners-up. 2,622 spectators per game watched this spectacular season, and another pleasure for the manager: The insolvency proceedings were completed, the EVL was free from dept.
In the 2004-05 preliminaries the team could just qualify for the playoffs. In the quarterfinals they were knocked out by derby opponent EV Regensburg. The following season the club signed among others Daniel Naud as coach and goalie Martin Cinibulk. The powerful squad was ranked second in the first round. Understandably management, players and fans were heavily disappointed as the team was defeated by underdog Dresdner Eislöwen in seven games. Strangely enough the EVL celebrated walkovers in the home games (7-1, 7-1, 4-1), while losing narrowly away. After all the team lost the final game in Landshut 4-1. In the 2006-07 season the Cannibals knocked out the Schwenninger Wild Wings, were however swept by Wolfsburg in the semifinals.
In the 2007-08 pre-season coach Andreas Brockmann formed a powerful team consisting of Brent Walton, Brandon Dietrich, and Peter Abstreiter and kept most of the regulars. The second placing in the preliminaries got fans and team in the right mood for a successful playoff season. In the quarterfinals the team defeated the Bietigheim Steelers 4-1, and swept Heilbronn in the semifinals. Thus the Landshut Cannibals entered a 2nd Bundesliga final round for the second time since 2004. Although the team's opponent, the Kassel Huskies, had a budget twice the amount of Landshut's, the finals were narrow. Winning the first game 1-0 in Kassel, the team lost the following two encounters (0-6 and 0-5). In the fourth game the Cannibals cleared 5-4 OT. The final game was not finished until Drew Bannister shot Kassel to the championship and promotion to the DEL in overtime.
In the 2008-09 season the financial background was not that bright, so that the fifth rank after the preliminaries was a good result. Ben Cottreau (top-scorer with 59 points) was a lucky pull, and Tom Kühnhackl made his debut in professional hockey. Unfortunately the team was defeated in the quarterfinals by EV Ravensburg in six games. The 2009-10 preliminaries were finished on the fifth rank again. Even the young forwards Tom Kühnhackl and Tobias Rieder, who left for Canada after that season, could not prevent losing against Bietigheim in the playoff quarterfinals.
Updated September 16, 2010.
Many important hockey players played in Landshut or learned playing hockey there. The first-ever German drafted for the NHL, Bernhard “Bernie” Englbrecht was a product of Landshut’s system, as were the two bronze medal winners of the 1976 olympics, Klaus “Butzi” Auhuber and franchise player Alois Schloder. Some of the most known were Sepp Schramm, Jaro Truntschka, Rudi Hejtmanek, Jiri Kochta, Bob and Robin Laycock, Helmut Steiger, Christian Brittig, Mike Bullard, Petr Briza, Wally Schreiber, Matti Hagman, Jiri Pospisil, Craig Laughlin, Bernd Truntschka and in the nearer past Kamil Toupal. The most notable coaches in club history include Dr. Karel Gut and Bernie Johnston.
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