Back between the 1997-98 and 1998-99 Ontario Hockey League seasons, Jason Pinizzotto went from the Barrie Colts to the Toronto Majors. Going the other direction was Andre Lakos. Both played just two years in the OHL, one year each with the Colts and Majors. Both are still active in pro hockey today. Pinizzotto is a major factor in the Bietigheim Steelers success in Germany’s DEL2 while Lakos has been a scratch for Langnau’s SCL Tigers during Switzerland’s NLB playoffs. The Tigers are currently in the finals against EHC Olten.
Pinizzotto was a third round pick by Barrie at the 1997 OHL Priority Selection, 47th overall. He played his first year with the Colts and his second with the Majors. After four years at York University, Jason has played pro in Germany since 2005-06 in the DEL and DEL2.
2014-15 is Pinizzotto’s first year with the Steelers. During the regular season, he scored 19 and assisted on 25 for 44 points over 46 games. His DEL2 numbers are impressive with 177 goals and 180 assists for 357 points over 364 regular season games. He will cross over the 80 playoff game plateau this week and is just off a career point per game pace.
The club has been in the DEL2 (formerly 2.Bundesliga) since 2007-08 and were champs in 2008-09 and 2012-13. In 2013-14, Bietigheim lost in the finals. The Steelers play home games at the EgeTrans Arena in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany, a 4,583 seat venue that opened in 2012.
This season, the Steelers finished first overall in the 14 team league over the 52 game regular season schedule. Bietigheim finished 15 points ahead of second place Pinguine Fischtown. The league uses a proper three points per game system.
Small skilled players shun the North American game to play in Switzerland, right? Lakos is certainly the exception at 6’7″ and a playing weight nearing 250. The Austrian was undrafted by the Majors and played in his first IIHF World Hockey Championship for his country after the Colts were eliminated from the Robertson Cup playoffs in 1998-99. That Colts team finished first in the Eastern Conference and second overall behind the Plymouth Whalers. However, the Oshawa Generals upset Barrie in the conference semi-finals.
The New Jersey Devils took Andre in the third round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, 95th overall. He has played pro hockey since 1999-00 in a handful of leagues including the AHL, ECHL, Austria’s EBEL, Sweden’s SHL, the Russian based KHL, Germany’s DEL, the Czech Extraliga and the NLB in Switzerland. Add to that a single game in Romania at the start of the 2014-15 season.
Lakos signed with Langnau for a one month tryout on December 19. The tryout was successful and he signed for the rest of the year on January 30. However, he has played sparingly since.
On the international front, Andre has played in ten World Championships for Austria. He also played for his country at the 2002 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Langnau SCL Tigers
The SCL Tigers have a long history. They were last promoted to the NLA for the 1998-99 season and demoted back down to the NLB after 2012-13. This past season, 2013-14, Langnau reached the finals before bowing out.
This season, the SCL Tigers finished first overall in the nine team NLB, points ahead of the second place HC Red Ice. The NLB also plays a proper three points per EVERY game system that should be adopted in North America.
Currently, the Tigers are in the finals against the fifth seed EHC Olten. Olten finished the regular season 33 points behind Langnau over the 48 game schedule.