Getting to know the Tilburg Trappers
Founded in 1938 the 'Destil' Tilburg Trappers have become a stalwart of hockey in the Netherlands. Tilburg is of a similar size to Coventry both being home to around 300,000 and both ice hockey teams having a winning tradition. The Trappers have lifted silverwear on 28 different occasions in the various guises of the Dutch Hockey League (Eredivisie). This however was to end in 2015 when a dwindling number of teams left the Eredivisie in disarray and the Trappers of Tilburg were accepted into the 3rd Tier of German Ice Hockey – Oberliga. There were originally plans for the Heerenveen Flyers to follow their countrymen into battle in German Hockey, however this never materialised, leaving the Trappers to fly the Dutch colours alone.
Another comparison you can make between the Trappers and the Blaze, is that both have been given under-dog status, later going on to prove to be ‘up-starts’ in their league. The Blaze famously won the Grand-Slam in only their second season in the EIHL, the Trappers own achievements saw them crowned Playoff Champions in their first season in the Oberliga, defeating EHC Bayreuth during the 2015/16 campaign. Tilburg that season also finished second in “Der Oberliga Nord” (the North conference) marking an incredible year. Being Champions meant that the Trappers were eligible for promotion to the DEL2, a league of a high calibre which has seen Blaze alumni Dustin Cameron, Bjorn Bombis and Andreas Moborg (among others) ply their trade. However, the Trappers were always going to have to decline this invitation:
“We knew beforehand that we could be Champions, but we could not take advantage,” said Gerard Arink, the General Manager. “On-ice we would have been ok, but the organisation has to handle it. So we're going back next year to play in the Oberliga.”
It is no surprise that this decision was made as Tilburg lies around 2 hours from their nearest rivals (and North Conference Champions last season) Duisburg, and many of their roster also hold down day jobs including Dutch international and Team Captain #27 Diederick Hagemeije, “I work four days a week, like many others. It's been a tough season. You're at the point in a flow, a kind of daze.”
So what should Coventry Blaze fans expect from the Trappers? Well, one immediately familiar face will be that of 300 EIHL games, former Braehead Clan, Fife Flyers and Dundee Stars winger #28 Bobby Chaumont, who last season in Dundee posted 30 goals during the regular season. They also boast both parts of the Netherlands National Teams netminding duo in #40 Martijn Oosterwijk and #39 Ian Meierdres.
Although both saw equal playing time during the regular season it was Meierdres who played 15 times during the playoff run posting an impressive GAA of 2.02. They’re both very different netminders however, Meierdres is the shorter of the two at 5’10 whereas Oosterwijk stands at a lofty 6’4. Meiedres is known for his athleticism and Oosterwijk plays a very good butterfly/shoulders high style that’s becoming very popular in the NHL.
A number of the Tilburg squad are not unfamilar with the Skydome Arena. Aforementioned Diederick Hagermeije and Ian Meierdres for example have played in Coventry before, icing during the P&O Ferries Cup with Tilburg back in 2011/12 where Blaze were victorious 6-1, and before that in a pre-season friendly 2010 where Blaze won 6-2.
Last year’s leading point-scorer for Tilburg was #6 Ivy Van Der Heuvel who also played in the Skydome game of 2011. The Dutch International forward, along with Chaumont and other new signing, 6’3” Canadian #29 Justin Larson should provide Tilburg with a scoring threat.
Like Coventry, the Trappers have a relatively young coach with Blaze's Danny Stewart being 37 and Tilburg's Bohuslav Subr, 36. Subr, of Tabor in the Czech Republic had a successful playing career winning the OHL with Guelph in 1997/98 and the Beker Cup in 06/07 with the Amstel Tigers in the Netherlands. During his playing career he also had a good year with Bergen in the Norwegian League before settling to spend the rest of his playing career in the Netherlands and turning to coaching. Last season was the Czechs first as Head Coach for the Trappers leading them to the Oberliga Championship. Before this Subr was Under 18’s Head Coach and Assistant Coach for the Under 20’s Dutch National sides.
We look forward to welcoming the Trappers to Coventry on Sunday evening (5.15pm face-off). Full game information is available, here.
Written by: Ed Kimberley @EdKimberley
Tickets are still available for the game by calling 02476 630693 or using the new e-ticket system ONLINE.
Why not treat yourself to a luxury ticket in the Crowngate SkyLounge, just £30 per-person and these can be bought online too, here.