The Austrian players celebrate a goal in the first exhibition game against Hungary.

By Martin Merk –

The November international break saw few events going on such as the Karjala Tournament and the Deutschland Cup in men’s senior hockey.

However, many tournaments in several categories had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures against it. And some that were planned got cancelled in the last minute such as U20 and U18 games between the Finnish and Swedish national teams due to players tested positive on the Swedish side.

The only international U20 games were played in St. Polten between host Austria and Hungary. Belarus and Denmark abstained from travelling to the event and Latvia, also planned for the tournament, cancelled its flight booking after positive tests.

The Austrians, who were promoted to play in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton, succeeded with two wins against their neighbours – 4-2 and 6-3.

Recent first-round draft pick Marco Rossi scored a goal, Senna Peeters and the team’s youngest player Marco Kasper led the Austrians with two markers. 16-year-old Kasper is the son of former Olympian Peter Kasper and moved to Rogle Angelholm in Sweden ahead of this season where fellow U20 national team players Peeters and Thimo Nickl are among his teammates.

“The association did a good job and our safety concept worked well,” said head coach Marco Pewal about the event. “In a few weeks we will enter a bubble to prepare for the World Juniors. This will be a completely new experience for everybody. I hope all players stay healthy so that we can participate at the World Junior Championship with our strongest team.”

The team will enter the bubble at home on 6 December in St. Polten and fly to Edmonton one week later. There the Austrians are seeded in a group with Russia, Sweden, the United States and the Czech Republic.

The only other U20 national team that had games this week was Poland, which ended up playing against club teams Polonia Bytom and Zaglebie Sosnowiec.