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Olimpija Ljubljana to join Giants in CHL line-up for 2022/23

The Champions Hockey League, in which the Belfast Giants will be competing, together with its media and marketing partner Infront have decided to allocate a Wild Card to Olimpija Ljubljana for the upcoming 2022/23 season.

The team from Slovenia join the competition as Ukrainian representatives HC Donbass Donetsk are forced to withdraw from the upcoming CHL season due to the ongoing situation in their country.

“The act of war against Ukraine is a tragedy, and it is unimaginable what suffering it is causing to the people of Ukraine.

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“It is of course comprehensible that HC Donbass Donetsk are unable to participate in the 2022/23 CHL season under such circumstances and we would like to thank the club for their commitment and the huge amount of effort they put into their first CHL appearance last season,” a CHL board statement said.

Players of Rögle celebrate with the trophy after winning the CHL final between Rögle and Tappara on March 1, 2022 in Ängelholm, Sweden. PictureL: Ludvig Thunman/CHL

“It is the CHL’s objective via the Wild Card system to appoint deserving clubs and to contribute to the development of European club ice hockey by having a participation field as internationally diverse as possible.

“The nomination of Olimpija Ljubljana offers us the opportunity to add a new country to the CHL map. The club is on the rise and just concluded its first season in the ICE Hockey League in a decent manner. For this reason, it was decided to allocate a Wild Card and the 32nd place in the 2022/23 CHL season line-up to them,” the CHL board concluded.

Qualification overview as per 2 May 2022:

Sweden (5 places)

Players of Rögle celebrate with the trophy after winning the CHL final between Rögle and Tappara on March 1, 2022 in Ängelholm, Sweden. Picture: Ludvig Thunman/CHL

Rögle Ängelholm (CHL Champions)

Luleå Hockey

Skellefteå AIK

Frölunda Gothenburg

+ National champions or regular season 5th placed team (if champions are already qualified)

Switzerland (5 places)

EV Zug

Fribourg-Gottéron

Rapperswil-Jona Lakers

ZSC Lions Zurich

HC Davos

Germany (4 places)

Eisbären Berlin

Red Bull Munich

Grizzlys Wolfsburg

Straubing Tigers

Finland (4 places)

Tappara Tampere

Jukurit Mikkeli

Ilves Tampere

TPS Turku

Czech Republic (3 places)

Oceláři Třinec

Mountfield HK

Sparta Prague

Austria/ICE (3 places)

Red Bull Salzburg

Villach SV

Hungary (1 place)

Fehérvár AV19

Challenger Leagues and Wild Cards (8 places)

Comarch Cracovia (Poland/IIHF Continental Cup winners)

Aalborg Pirates (Denmark)

Grenoble (France)

Stavanger Oilers (Norway)

GKS Katowice (Poland)

Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia, Wild Card)

Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia)

Belfast Giants (UK)

Finnish and Swedish ice hockey players playing in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and other leagues in Russia will not be selected for their national teams, the two countries’ ice hockey associations have announced.

The move followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The position of the Finnish Hockey Association is that players playing in Russia next season will not be able to play for the national team,” the Finnish Ice Hockey Association said in a statement.

Finnish club Jokerit also withdrew from the KHL in late February, days after the invasion.

The Swedish Ice Hockey Association (SIF) said it was leaning towards not selecting Swedish players plying their trade in the KHL, but will make a formal decision after the season ends.

“But what we can now state is that none of the players who participated during the playoffs in the KHL are eligible for the World Cup tournament in Finland,” the SIF said in a statement.