Medvescak Zagreb of Austria’s Erste Bank Eishockey Liga has said goodbye to two Ontario Hockey League grads, Jeff Heerema and Brad Smyth. Remaining captain Alan Letang and alternate captain John Hecimovic will be joined by three other OHL alumni for the 2011-12 season.
Zagreb, a city in Croatia, will enter it’s third season in the EBEL. The Austrian based elite league has truly become an international league with teams in Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, as well as Austria. Zabreb finished each of it’s first two seasons in the EBEL in eighth place in the ten team league.
Michael Ouzas brings some great goaltending talent to ‘The Bears’. Ouzas played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League from 2002-03 to 2005-06 with the Barrie Colts, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, Mississauga IceDogs and Owen Sound Attack. In 2004-05, Ouzas was the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year with a 2.18 GAA and .926 save percentage in 44 games with the IceDogs.
Undrafted, Michael played two seasons with the University of New Brunswick before becoming a regular in the ECHL. This psat season, 2010-11, Ouzas started the ECHL All-Star game as a member of the Las Vegas Wranglers. He was a call-up for on game with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.
Andy Delmore brings 283 games of NHL experience to Zagreb, despite the fact that he joins the team on a ‘try-out’ basis. Delmore played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League from 1993-94 to 1996-97 with the North Bay Centennials and Sarnia Sting. He played NHL hockey with the Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Delmore’s highlight season came in 2005-06 with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. In 66 games, he scored 17 goals and totalled 72 points. He won the Eddie Shore Award as the league’s top defenseman while leading all blue liners in goals, assists and points. He played an additional seven games with the NHL’s Blue Jackets that season.
This year will not be Andy Delmore’s first European experience. He has played in Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) and played this past season in Norway’s Get-Ligaen.
The team captain of Medvescak Zagreb, Alan Letang, begins his fourth season in the EBEL and third with Zagreb. Letang played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League from 1991-92 to 1994-95. After playing his rookie season with the Cornwall Royals, he followed the franchise as they morphed into the Newmarket Royals and then the Sarnia Sting. In his final season, he was a teammate of Andy Delmore.
A late pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Letang appeared in 14 NHL games with the Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames and New York Islanders. Letang spent four years in Germany’s DEL before moving to the EBEL.
John Hecimovic enters his third season with Zagreb. He played five seasons in the Ontario Hockey League from 2000-01 to 2004-05. Hecimovic was a Sarnia Sting until midway through his final season when he was sent to the Mississauga IceDogs. John has been in Europe since 2007-08. He played two seasons with The Hague in the Netherlands before moving to the EBEL.
Tom Zanoski returns to his roots, having been born in Zagreb. Tom played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League from 2001-02 to 2004-05, starting with the Owen Sound Attack and moving to the Mississauga IceDogs midway through his third season. Zanoski is surely looking for stability with Zagreb after playing for six different teams in 2009-10 and three teams in 2010-11.
Zagreb Medvescak has been in existence since 1961. Originally part of the Yugoslav Hockey League, the have played in the Croatian Ice Hockey League from 1991. They actually play in both the CIHL and EBEL at the same time. The team plays out of the 6400 seat Dom Sportova in Zagreb.