The women’s ABN AMRO EHL Ranking Cup gets up and running at UHC Hamburg with three teams battling to determine who gets top points for their respective nation.
It is a competition reduced to three teams following the withdrawal of Ireland’s Pegasus which means there will be a Saturday KO4 game between UHC and Belarus’s HC Minsk at 12.00 (CET).
The winner of that game will go through to a Sunday date against England’s Surbiton who received a bye as a result of Pegasus not taking part.
Hosts UHC are hoping to land fifth place overall following some stellar runs in the old EuroHockey Club Cup, reaching the final in 2017 and 2018 and taking bronze in 2014 and 2016.
The squad features Olympic duo Lena Micheel and Amelie Wortmann, rising German international goalkeeper Noelle Rother and Teresa Martin-Pelegrina. There is also an international flavour with Scottish international Amy Costello and Swiss duo Charlotte Heselhaus and Sofie Stomps.
But star striker Charlotte Stapenhorst has decided to return to her home club in the German second division with Zehlendorfer Wasps. Janne Müller-Wieland and Hannah Seifert have also stepped away, meaning something of a rebuild job for new coach Johannes Persoon.
He has taken over from Claus Henkel who helped the club win three national championships in eight seasons. And they currently top their section of the German Bundesliga with 14 points from seven games.
The Belarus champions are looking forward to their debut at this level of European club hockey following their run to the national title in 2019. They have previously won bronze three times in the Euro Trophy – in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – and will look to carry those experiences with them into this new arena.
Minsk enter the competition following an upbeat summer for Belarussian hockey with the side winning the EuroHockey Championship II. The country’s wider international panel features nine Minsk players: Marina Navitskaya, Kristina Moreva, Krestina Popkova, Marina Nikitina, Evgeniya Filippovich, Karina Zhuk, Anastasia Sys, Natalia Shtin and Olga Kudermaeva
They are joined by Ukraine international Yevheniya Kernoz and they have managed to keep quite active over the recent year despite all the upheaval. They did, however, miss out on their Super Cup title at the hands of Victoriya Smolevichi.
Waiting in the wings are English champions since 2014, Surbiton are looking forward to their EHL debut with a new look team following five arrivals at the club for the 2021/22 season.
Youth international Darcy Bourne returns to the club after a year at Duke University in the US while Sophie Hamilton is also back after a stint with the UConn Huskies. Charlotte Daly and Freya Bull also link up with the Sugden Road club.
On the move, though, are Hannah Martin (Hurley), Giselle Ansley (HGC) and Holly Pearne-Webb who makes the switch to Wimbledon. Emily Atkinson is retiring while Corinne Zanolli moves back to the US.
It will be their sixth European campaign having played in five editions of the EuroHockey Club Cup, finishing in fourth place in 2017.
Saturday 2 October
M2 12.00h Women SF2 UHC Hamburg – HC Minsk
Sunday 3 October
M4 12.15h 1st/2nd place Winner SF2 – Surbiton