HK Acroni Jesenice

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Jesenice
Club crest
Full name Hokejski Klub Acroni Jesenice
Nickname(s) Železarji (The Steel Workers)
Founded 6 January 1948; 66 years ago (1948-01-06)[1]
Dissolved 2012; 2 years ago (2012)[2][3]
Based in Jesenice, Slovenia
Arena Podmežakla Hall
(capacity: 5,500)
League
Uniform Acroni Jesenice Jersey.png
Team colors                    

Hokejski Klub Acroni Jesenice (English: Acroni Jesenice Hockey Club), commonly referred to as HK Acroni Jesenice or simply Jesenice, was a Slovenian ice hockey team that last played in the Austrian Erste Bank Hockey League and the Slovenian Ice Hockey League. They played their home games at the Podmežakla Hall in Jesenice. Throughout its history Jesenice was regarded as one of the most successful clubs in Slovenian and Yugoslav ice hockey until September 2012, when the club filed for bankruptcy and was dissolved.[2][3]

History[edit]

Before the World War II[edit]

Roots of an ice hockey in Jesenice go back to pre-World War II, when enthusiasts started skating on a natural ice surface (these days it's a soccer field very near the hockey arena). The name of Karlo Vergles is being mentioned most often with regards to these ice hockey beginnings. In the season of 1940–41 the first amateur team was assembled with simple equipment mostly made in the local steel and iron factory (which is still the main sponsor today). Despite that Jesenice team lost their first game to Zagreb with only one goal.[4]

After the World War II[edit]

After the World War II, ice hockey returned to the sports park Podmežakla. And the start wasn't easy. Other clubs had years of tradition to count on and the Jesenice team had a hard time getting matches. Therefore in 1948 an ice-hockey/skating section was formed in the local sport society under the leadership of Drago Cerar. Other people involved included: France Božič, Mitja Verovšek, Vinko Čižman, Pavle Hafner, Milan Marolt and others. This year was also important for the fact that it was the first time Jesenice played in a real tournament against Maribor, Brežice and Celje. Somewhat surprisingly (although not by score) Jesenice team won the tournament.[5]

Development of hockey continued in Jesenice in the following years with the opening of the artificial ice-hockey surface in 1954 which was the first in former Yugoslavia. This also included a spectator area.

In 1956 Jesenice team hired a hockey coach from former Czechoslovakia Zdenek Blaha. This started the jesenice ice-hockey rise. In the 1956–57 season Jesenice won the Yugoslav championship against far more known teams from Ljubljana and Belgrade.

The Golden Age[edit]

After winning the 1957 championship Jesenice completely dominated the Yugoslav ice-hockey winning 15 consecutive championship titles. Most coaches in this period were foreign coming from former Czechoslovakia. Notable players in this period include: Albin Felc, Dušan Brun, Bogo Jan, Ciril Klinar, Viktor Tišler, Vlado Jug, Gorazd Hiti, Franc Smolej, Rudi Knez and others.[6]

Before the Slovenian Independence[edit]

After 1971 season, the Yugoslav championship was more or less divided equally between Jesenice and Ljubljana. Jesenice won the league between 1956–57 and 1970–71, in 1972–73, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1984–85, 1986–87 and 1987–88. Jesenice also won the 1974 championship but this was later taken away from them by the ice-hockey federation. Notable about this period is that the majority of players came from Jesenice or neighboring cities, a trait for which the Jesenice team is still known today.[6]

After the Slovenian Independence[edit]

Jesenice vs. VSV EC in 2006

First years after the Slovenian independence were again dominated by the Jesenice team. Alongside good local players the team was reinforced by some excellent players from former Soviet Union under the coaching of Vladimir Krikunov. This resulted in three consecutive championship titles. However financial and staff problems brought the team to the brink of collapse. The peak of these troubles was the exclusion of Jesenice team from the Slovenian championships in 1988–89 season.[7]

It took a couple of years for Jesenice to bounce back and in 2004–05 season with the arrival of four players from Olimpija (Ljubljana) and most local players once again playing for their home team Jesenice won the championship once again. This was continued with further good play in one of the International Hockey Leagues (including one championship title) and one more national championship title.

As a recognition of their quality in 2006 Jesenice was invited as first non-Austrian team to play in the expanded Austrian ice-hockey championships. From 2006 and until 2012 the club has also won four more Slovenian titles in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Bankruptcy and dissolvement[edit]

The club had accumulated debt, reportedly near €2.5 million (approximately $3.161m USD) at the conclusion of the 2011–12 EBEL season), and was eventually expelled from the league.[8] On 31 August 2012, HK Acroni Jesenice filed for bankruptcy and was dissolved.[2][3] Their affiliate HD Mladi Jesenice were registered and run separately from the main squad. They will continue to remain in existence and continue with their ice hockey school.[2][3]

Arena[edit]

The team played their home matches at the Podmežakla Hall, a 5,500 all-seated multi-purpose indoor hall in Jesenice.

Supporters[edit]

The club's ultras group was called the Red Steelers.

Honours[edit]

Coaches[edit]

Year Coach Info
1963–1966 Czechoslovakia Jiŕi Pleticha 3 x Yugoslav Champion
1966–1967 Czechoslovakia Rudi Černy 1 x Yugoslav Champion
1967–1969 Czechoslovakia Oldrich Mlcoch 2 x Yugoslav Champion
1969–1972 Slovenia Ciril Klinar 2 x Yugoslav Champion
1972–1974 USSR Boris Afanasiev 1 x Yugoslav Champion
1974–1975 Slovenia Jože Trebušak
1975–1976 Czechoslovakia Rudi Černy
1976–1978 Czechoslovakia Vlastimil Bubník 2 x Yugoslav Champion
1978–1979 Slovenia Ciril Klinar
1979–1982 Slovenia Boris Svetlin 2 x Yugoslav Champion
1982–1983 Slovenia Albin Felc
1983–1985 Slovenia Boris Svetlin Fired before end of contract
1985–1987 Slovenia Roman Smolej 2 x Yugoslav Champion
1987–1988 Czechoslovakia Vaclav Červeny 1 x Yugoslav Champion
1988–1989 Slovenia Rudi Hiti
1989–1990 Slovenia Ciril Klinar Fired before end of contract
1989–1990 Czechoslovakia Vaclav Červeny
1990–1991 Czechoslovakia Jan Selvek
1991–1993 Russia Vladimir Krikunov 2 x Slovenian Champion
1993–1995 Russia Sergej Borisov 1 x Slovenian Champion
1995–1996 Slovenia Drago Mlinarec
1996–1997 Canada Paul Arsenault Fired before end of contract
1996–1997 Slovenia Franci Žbontar
1997–1998 Canada Zdenek Uher Fired before end of contract
1997–1998 Slovenia Drago Mlinarec
1998–1999 Slovenia Pavle Kavčič
1999–2001 Czechoslovakia Vaclav Červeny
2001–2002 Slovenia Pavle Kavčič
2002–2006 Czechoslovakia Roman Pristov 2 x Slovenian Champion
2006–2007 Slovenia Matjaž Kopitar EBEL: 5th place
2007–2008 Canada Kim Collins Fired before end of contract
2008–2009 USA Douglas Bradley 2 x Slovenian Champion, EBEL: 2 x Quarterfinals
2009–2009 Russia Ildar Rahmatuljin Fired before end of contract
2009–2010 USA Mike Posma
2010–2012 FIN Heikki Mälkiä Fired before end of contract
2012 FIN Bojan Magazin Team dissolved on 31 August 2012.

Players[edit]

Notable Players[edit]

Slovenia

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "HK Acroni Jesenice" (in Slovene). HZS. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Živa Krušič Gorišek (3 September 2012). "Miha Rebolj: Hokej na Jesenicah ne bo propadel" (in Slovene). Siol. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Toni Gruden (3 September 2012). "Zelo žalostna zgodba, a hokej na Jesenicah se še igra". rtvslo.si (in Slovene) (RTV Slovenija). Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.hkjesenice.si/?subpageid=15&contid=132
  5. ^ http://www.hkjesenice.si/?subpageid=15&contid=133
  6. ^ a b http://www.hkjesenice.si/?subpageid=15&contid=134
  7. ^ http://www.hkjesenice.si/?subpageid=15&contid=136
  8. ^ Martin Merk (3 September 2012). "The end of Acroni Jesenice: Most storied club from former Yugoslavia collapses". IIHF.com.