The Top of the D has already looked at the first 8 teams contesting the KO16 this weekend in Amsterdam in part one. Here is all you need to know about the other eight sides fighting to win European Club Hockey’s most prestigious prize.
Dragons qualified first from arguably the toughest group of all, beating Reading and St Germain to secure their place.
As Belgian hockey has begun to make its mark on the world game, Dragons have become one of the success stories of the EHL, winning a bronze and reaching the quarter finals.
They are currently in fourth place in a very competitive domestic league and will be keen to continue their excellent recent run in this competition.
EHL this season: vs. St Germain. Won 2-1. vs. Reading. Won 4-3.
Players to watch: Florent van Aubel is one of the most exciting talents in world hockey today. Pace on and off the ball, strength, outrageous technical ability and the scorer of spectacular goals the 21-year-old quite simply has it all.
Lisnagarvey won many friends in the first round, in part due to their partisan fans and their witty songs, but also as a result of their gritty and determined rearguard action to hold Bloemendaal to scoring just three goals, securing their qualification on goal difference at the expense of Lille, whom they drew with.
Garvey finished second in their domestic league this season, missing out to Banbridge despite remaining unbeaten in the league.
EHL this season: vs Lille. Drew 3-3. vs. Bloemendaal. Lost 3-0.
Players to watch: Mark Raphael has a great deal of experience and showed he has both creative flair and the ability to dig in and do his part for his team’s defensive work. He was outstanding in both games in round one.
John Tormey in goal had an inspired game against Bloemendaal with a string of incredible saves in a heroic losing cause. With Garvey expected to come under great pressure Tormey will have to be on top form again.
Beeston have had a superb season. In round one they beat WKS Grunwald Poznan 6-0 before coming out on top in an incredible game against Amsterdam, winning 5-4.
Domestically, they had the championship sewn up in February. They finished 11 points clear of second place and have been scoring plenty of goals. The Bees are a real danger to any opponent and probably represent England’s best hope of reaching the final four, provided they can overcome domestic rivals East Grinstead first.
EHL this season: vs. WKS Grunwald Poznan. Won 6-0. vs. Amsterdam. Won 5-4.
Players to watch:
Simon Egerton has had a blistering season up front. A summer signing from Bowdon he has netted 23 times in the league, forcing his way into the England set up in the process. Egerton’s goal threat will be crucial to his team.
George Pinner is the heir apparent to the Great Britain goalkeeping throne. The giant goalkeeper is exceptional at penalty corner saves and his presence and command of his D means that as well as scoring plenty of goals The Bees aren’t too leaky at the back.
The hosts of round one came through a tough group by virtue of their win over SC Stroitel Brest. They were beaten by Waterloo Ducks but had already secured their place at KO16.
Grinstead have endured a tough season domestically. Their squad has been ravaged by injuries and subsequently they have been unusually off the pace. Their place in the end of season play offs still depends on winning their final game against Southgate.
With a good EHL pedigree and two indoor triumphs (domestic and European) in the bag this season they will still feel they can compete with the best.
EHL this season: vs. SC Stroitel Brest. Won 5-0. vs. Waterloo Ducks. Lost 1-2.
Players to watch:
Ashley Jackson wasn’t fully fit during the first round of the competition, but has since spent some time playing in the Hockey India League, where he was part of the winning side, the Ranchi Rhinos. He is the most creative player in the East Grinstead team and is a huge threat from penalty corners. If he is on form he is hard to stop.
The Dutch masters who won the EHL in 2009 are one of the most feared sides in the competition and with good reason. They won both their games in the group stages, thrashing Lille and beating Lisnagarvey. Their squad is bulging with quality and is currently 4th in the Hoofdklasse. Their galaxy of stars plays an exciting attacking brand of hockey and on their day there are few teams who can live with them.
EHL this season: vs. Lille. Won 7-2. vs. Lisnagarvey. Won 3-0.
Players to watch: A man who needs no introduction, Teun De Nooijer. Over 450 international caps, aged 37 and still blessed with incredible technical skills and a seemingly limitless supply of energy, De Nooijer creates chances for others and scores them himself. He has announced he will retire at the end of this season, it would be fitting if one of the greatest of all time won the EHL as part of his swansong.
Campo had a busy summer bringing in a trio of top class German players in an attempt to ensure a successful season. They finished as runners up in this competition in 2011 and came through their group with a hard fought win over Uhlenhorst Mülheim and a surprise loss to Dinamo Kazan. Both of those results show that they are capable of brilliance and mediocrity on any given day. They currently sit second in the Spanish league and would love nothing more than to capture a first EHL title.
EHL this season: vs. Dinamo Kazan. Lost 1-2. vs. Uhlenhorst Mülheim. Won 4-3.
Players to watch: World Player of the Year, Olympic Gold Medallist, three-time EHL winner, twice EHL MVP, it is fair to say they don’t come more decorated than Moritz Fürste. A perfect blend of skill, power and grace the German is capable of turning any game in his team’s favour.
Terrassa have qualified for every EHL competition since the tournament began. They have yet to reach the final four, but have the potential to beat the best. They beat Izmailovo Moscow in their first game and drew with Royal Leopold to secure their passage to KO16. They are currently fourth in the Spanish League and within striking distance of the the top places.
EHL this season: vs. Izmailovo Moscow. Won 4-0. vs. Royal Leopold. Drew 3-3.
Players to watch:
Sergi Enrique has won a gold and a silver medal at the Champions Trophy and has a glut of international caps to his name. Simply put, his experience is invaluable to his team. A fine defender who will be a calming influence to his younger team mates.
Amsterdam are another of the Dutch sides with a good EHL pedigree, finishing as runners up in 2012. Their team is packed full of quality players. They didn’t quite scale the heights expected in the first round, losing to Beeston and drawing with WKS Grunwald Poznan, but they did enough to qualify. Expect the real Amsterdam to show themselves now it is the business end of the competition.They currently sit fifth in the Hoofdklasse.
EHL this season: vs. Beeston. Lost 4-5. vs. WKS Grunwald Poznan. Drew 2-2.
Players to watch: You could list any number of the current Amsterdam squad, but to narrow down to just one, I’d go for Santi Freixa. No doubt keen to put one over his old club he will show us his full array of skills and score his customary spectacular goals.
Waterloo Ducks are the reigning Belgian Champions and are currently leading the Belgian league this season, too. They returned to the EHL this year after a two season absence and turned heads by winning both their group games against SC Stroitel Brest and hosts, East Grinstead.
Their pace on the counterattack will give teams plenty to think about as they bid to reach the final four for the first time.
EHL this season: vs. SC Stroitel Brest. Won 4-0. vs. East Grinstead. Won 2-1.
Players to watch: Alastair Brogdon has flourished since he left England to ply his trade in Belgium. His style fits perfectly with the way Wat Ducks play as his eye for a pass, ability to break at pace and score goals make him an integral part of Waterloo’s attacking plans.
Berliner have had a tough season domestically and are languishing down in 9th place in the league. In their début campaign in the EHL they have forgotten their domestic troubles with an 8-0 thumping of Grange and a hugely impressive 2-2 draw with Rotterdam. They will hope to replicate that kind of form in the KO16.
EHL this season: vs. Grange. Won 8-0. vs. Rotterdam. Drew 2-2.
Players to watch: Martin Haener, had already scored goals in the EHL for East Grinstead and now with an Olympic Gold Medal in his possession he is still banging them in for Berliner. A fine defender and a dangerous penalty corner option who could shoot down Waterloo Ducks.
And so we wait for the first game to start on Friday morning as the finest players from across the continent prepare to lock horns. We will know after a weekend of top class hockey, who will be going on to the Final Four.
Click the Euro Hockey League Link at the top of the page for coverage over the course of the weekend.
Reading are playing at 2:30PM CET tomorrow. No doubt I’ll tune in an hour early/late and miss it.