At just past the midway point in the Slovak Extraliga season, HC Banska Bystrica (HC ’05 officially) sits in fifth place in the ten team league. The team has had a flurry of activity of late, including picking up two alumni of the Ontario Hockey League.
Marek Biro began the 2012-13 season with 25 games as a member of rival Slovakia club HC Dukla Trencin. For the big defenseman, it’s a return to his hometown. He last played for HC Banska Bystrica in 2010-11, his third years with the Extraliga club.
Biro was the 18th overall selection at the 2006 CHL Import Draft by the Windsor Spitfires. Marek played two seasons with the Spitfires, 2006-07 and 2007-08. In each season, Biro totalled 13 points with Windsor, his highest single season totals in his junior/pro career to date. During his final season in the OHL, he played for Slovakia at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. The tournament was held in the Czech Republic. Slovakia won just one game in the round robin and was kept out of the medal rounds. In the end, Slovakia finished eighth.
For the second year in a row, Mike Danton has started his season in Sweden’s Division 1 and moved elsewhere in Europe after Christmas. Division 1 is tier 3 hockey in Sweden – the ECHL to North America’s NHL. The OHL grad put up great numbers with Kramfors-Alliansen, scoring 21 goals and totalling 37 assists in just 21 games. His points per game was the seventh highest in the league for players with over 20 games played. He was to start the season in Great Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) with the Coventry Blaze but red tape got in the way.
The previous season, Mike started the season with IFK Ore of Division 1 and even wore the ‘C’ on his jersey. In 27 games, he scored 16 and totalled 41 points. Danton finished off his season in Austria’s Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (EBEL) with Orli Znojmo.
Danton played three years in the Ontario Hockey League from 1997-98 to 1999-00 with the Sarnia Sting, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors and Barrie Colts. He was a fifth round pick of the New Jersey Devils at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, 135th overall. In 2003-04, Mike played his first full season in the National Hockey League with the St. Louis Blues before a forced five year hiatus from the game.
So. Where is Banska Bystrica? This is a city in the centre of Slovakia. The population is nearly 80,000. The team plays out of the 3,000 seat Banska Bystrica Ice Stadium.